Relearning communication and life.
A post from my retreat.
Just before the UK’s soft lockdown in March 2020 and social distancing was just beginning, I went for a long walk. The park was in a way a lot quieter and most were promenading, but giving each other a little more attention than usual. Up the river, now much cleaner, and towards the furthest end of the park I rested at a stone bridge. In the gentle spring sun, the air had an almost Edenic quality. With much less traffic and plane activity I could hear and see with a surprising level of clarity, that filled me with peace. The river, birds and sun caressing new buds and rustling leaves fed my senses and soul.
Away from the path and with an eye out for loose dogs that might nose my leg, I pondered. There’s powerful benefits to being a hyper-empath as in sensitively facilitated environments it’s contributed to success supporting people. But the flip-side plays itself out in situations I can’t control, for example being among lots of random strangers in a park, which can make me nervous or over-excited. When I’m faced with someone coming towards me in public my openness doesn’t react well to the multi-layered unpredictability of this everyday occurrence and in the past rendered me frozen with discomfort until we’d passed each other. I’ve been fortunate to have done practices and learned skills to support a healthy nervous system and have managed this a lot since a younger adult. Yet today was different.
With a powerful sense of hearing and smell too, staying at home for a couple of days when I need a break from the city, has been something I’ve felt slightly guilty about. It’s odd to consider retreat has been an essential part of life for many cultures for thousand of years, when I can feel like I’m wrong for not contributing with the majority, even though a sudden air-brake release from a passing bus might induce trauma and ear-pain for 2 days, or the level of social vigilance needed to function means I cannot be fully with my own thoughts, leaving me mentally exhausted.
To be instructed by the government to stay at home along with the rest of the nation, has lifted a weight from my shoulders. Like many people I love quiet coffee shops and rummaging through second-hand book, record and charity shops in my spare time, yet staying home, working or relaxing for long spells is often preferable and has suddenly placed me, and many thousands of others with similar traits and preferences, in the majority. And in the park I felt through my interactions with others that things had equalled out a bit.
At home, millions are learning video-conferencing, which is also great news for those, like me, who enjoy it to interface at work, and for our families too – mine has an open room at the same time every morning where anyone can check-in and chat around breakfast.
Out in our parks, glances of the eye and the more lingering curiosity is now framed by newly uniting social implications. From within the peace and quiet, a new social culture is emerging and with it, higher levels of consciousness. I sense an increased gratitude for being outdoors, in this unusually more natured environment. Because we are social creatures, it means there is suddenly more empathy around too. Albeit from a safe distance (except for the odd sweaty runner charging past within inches), we can look upon other people more innocently in this simpler social context.
Suddenly, our bioculture is changing fast and awareness of this and ourselves, is more important than ever before, because of a lethal new virus. It has united humanity in so many ways, by keeping us apart, altering our ways forever, at the same time as destroying lives.
If we act wisely and with compassion, we could use this mandatory, awareness-raising retreat time to go deeper into what it means to be one unique human among billions of living, breathing, conscious, soulful beings.
We can emerge and visit the park and neighbourhood every day as a new person, serving the whole of our humanity.