– My tiredness still is an issue, as is my chest. Sometimes my heart races and my GI system acts up. (body)
– I struggle on and off with accepting that Covid still is a part of my life after 8+ months. I long so much to put it behind me! Also: I don’t hear as often anymore that people experience long-term consequences of the virus in the way that I have. What is that about? (mind)
– All Is Well, I am deeply grateful to be alive. (soul)
Does living like this, in pretty much constant awareness of my body/mind/soul-status, make me the world’s most boring, serious and/or weird person? The voice of my mind (I call him Lennart) definitely thinks so! Lennart wants to convince me that life is easier without contemplation, without going inside. That I just should stop thinking, feeling and writing about Long Covid and that this will magically make it go away in the end. And that I, when I’m healthy that is, can just take a glass (or five) of wine whenever I feel anxious/stressed/worried/depressed.
Someone once told me: I do not go deep inside myself because if I don’t dig deep, I won’t find anything unpleasant either. This person lives their life according to this philosophy and from what I can see, it works pretty well (but what do I know?). I catch myself being envious of this sometimes because it sure sounds much easier! Less complicated. Less heavy. Right?
But here I am, and I don’t seem to be ‘wired’ for living like that. I sure have tried though! Many years of my adult life I turned my focus outwards to try and find happiness and inner peace. I focused on other people and what they could give me or do to complete me and I frequently used alcohol to calm my system when I felt overwhelmed. I traveled the world, had lots of adventures. I worked hard and lived hard, as they say. Sometimes I wonder if I could have continued living like that. Many people do, so why not me, right?
I don’t have the answer to this question other than: my body showed me I couldn’t. Almost seven years ago I remember lying on the floor of my living room one day, totally exhausted both mentally and physically. I looked up at the ceiling and said out loud: I need help. That day I surrendered everything and let myself fall. For the first time in my life I didn’t care about the consequences, I just knew that I couldn’t continue to live the way I did. It cost me my job, it cost me some friends, it almost cost me my marriage and it sure cost me a lot of money in therapy/self-development retreats and trainings to get me where I am today.
So where is that? Well, the best way to describe it with one word would be: Home. T.S. Eliot used 21 words for it, so beautifully, when he wrote:
The end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
It turns out, I found, that underneath (or: beyond, if you will) all the noise of my mind and the layers of accumulated stress/trauma/worry/numbness/fear/anger in my life, there is a space of total calmness and peace inside me. It’s a space that is so obvious in a way, that it’s almost laughingly simple. It has always been there inside me, I had just completely forgotten somehow that it existed*.
* To clarify: I do not live my life in constant connection with this space. I believe very few people on earth do. It’s part of our humanness, I believe, to bounce back and forth between different stages of consciousness. Anyway.
Being in the space of Home is very much a physical experience for me. I can visualize it in my mind with lots of pretty images but not until I feel it in my body does it feel real and can I feel the true depth of it, as well as the calmness, peace and endless energy that reside there. I believe the body always shows the way; it is just up to me to listen to it and follow it without any doubt or hesitation. This is not so easy, I have found, and it takes a lot of practice (hint: meditation is a major key). But here is where Covid has shown itself to be such a gift. Why?
Well, Covid has shown me so clearly in my life how vital it is to follow the signs of my body. Covid-19 and Long Covid make it completely impossible to live without listening to what the body says, that is my experience from the past 38 weeks. Everything else takes a backseat, the body firmly and unapologetically places itself on Number One and all you can do is follow it and listen to what it says it needs. Resting has been what my body mostly has needed in the middle of the storm it experienced, so that’s what I’ve given it: radical resting. In combination with healthy food and exercise in a pace that feels good and not pushing or stressful. Whenever my mind interfered and tried to get me to do something that my body wasn’t ready for, I relapsed and found myself in a huge physical set-back that could last for weeks. For months on end, all I could do was be with my body and listen to it. Forget work, forget social engagements, forget sugary treats. I’ve never before in my life experienced living like this and by remaining aware of what was going on (with the help of my regular writing about it) I have learned so much about myself and living life.
I keep coming back to it again and again: awareness is such a key in living life! As simple as that. Awareness about what’s going on in my body, my mind and my soul and being honest about it. This means that I don’t have to change anything, I can just be with whatever is going on at the moment and (also a major key) accept it. This gives me so much inner space, and freedom to live my life according to what feels true for me.
I love and can relate to what Jack Kornfield writes in his wonderful book After The Ecstasy, The Laundry:
If my life was a crowded garage where I kept bumping into furniture and judging myself, now it’s like I’ve moved into an airplane hangar with the doors left open. I’ve got the old stuff in there, yet it doesn’t limit me like before. I’m the same, yet now I’m free to move about, even to fly.
Boring/serious/weird or not, this is the way I want to live my life: with awareness of what’s going on in my body, my mind and my soul. Covid or no Covid!
– My body will have symptoms at certain points in my life, if not from Long Covid then perhaps from another illness or old age at some point. It’s part of life.
– My mind will continue wanting to be in the driving seat. It will have millions of opinions on what I should and should not do in my life. It’s how it works.
– My soul just is. Grateful to be here and experience this life on earth. There is no pushing, no pulling, just being. Breathing in and out, in rhythm with nature.
Like the ebb and flow of oceans.
The light and darkness of seasons.
And the blooming and wilting of flowers.
Always, always remembering the words of Osho:
Life is not a puzzle to be solved.
It’s a mystery to be
lived and enjoyed.
Photo: Wilsan – unsplash.com