Covid lockdown returns and we each react in our own way. Some delight in the prospect of nature reviving, others fear being alone without support. That mental health was and is an issue during lockdown world-wide shows many of us are fragile, however, we need not sink, we can grow from the experience.
Years ago, I spent ten days locked in a room without sight nor sound of the outside world apart from food being laid at my door by a soft footed waiter. Inside, I had no window, radio, books, pencil or paper. OK, unlike lockdown, I was there of my own volition. What it showed me was that beneath my/our multiple personalities, each boasting its own rabid thought-clusters, emotional knots, extraordinary creativity, and each vying for my/our attention, lies a simple truth.
We have forgotten that we are animals. This is where many of our psychological problems start because we spend too much time in the mind, assuming it is ‘us’ and ignoring the distinction between the mind and the brain. The thoughts of our gloriously dramatic personae dominate. Thoughts, muddled accumulations of millennia of reflection, conclusion and delusion, mindsets inherited from our family, clan, tribe and culture, grip our attention. With their historic weight, we think our deeper thoughts are solid, unmovable, yet beneath these streams of complex, intertwined thinking, we are not too dissimilar.
We are equal, that we all have great inner strength. Individuals in the Kenyan tribe I grew up alongside had the same aspirations most of us have today, although they might appear different in detail. There was one huge difference, living in the bush, their world view revolved around their relationship with nature. Most of us inhabit urban environments, places where nature has long been controlled by systems, it has become a backcloth rather than a pressing feature of our daily existence. This encourages us to live more in our minds than those tribal folk whose sensual awareness was vital to their daily survival. That gave them a pungent vitality. Joining them during the holidays from my school 300 hundred miles away, I too had it, but at school it was dulled by the busy, demanding European world imposed on me.
My meditation retreat in that cell revived that hallowed state and lockdown allows us time to step from the whirl of civilisation’s wondrously addictive circus, to settle beneath our discerning minds to relish the body’s sensual messages. This is all that’s needed to lead us towards a calmer mindset.
Lingering in our ears, eyes, upon our skin, we discover the sensation of surfing the present moment. Light splaying across a wall, hear the world’s music, sense the firmness of the sofa against your arms, smell the air, tasing it. Shots of raw connection with your world, brief, repeated whenever you remember, they create new pathways in the brain.
At one with your environment, not judging, not wanting, simply being, is a relief and is calming. In this fleeting space worry becomes merely a wavelet splashing our toes, where thought is but a baby seal lolling beside our surfboard. There you are, your private heaven here upon the sofa.