So today I panicked. I didn’t realise straight away. I knew I wasn’t feeling well. And that in itself scared the hell out of me. So as I often do when I don’t feel “well”, I slept. And as I was asleep, I felt better. I know this because I was often in an in between state of being awake and asleep and I could feel that my bodily and mental condition was improving. As I was lying on my bed, with my eyes closed, I breathed in purposefully through one side of my body, and then purposefully out of the other side of my body, and then I reversed the direction. Alternate breathing via the imagination. This had an immediate effect on my state, mental and physical. A yoga trick I picked up.
Suddenly, I woke up, got out of bed and panicked. I realised I was panicking and had this urge, this need to leave the apartment and go outside into nature. It was sunny at the time and there is a park I often frequent close to where I live. So I did that. I got dressed without thinking too much. Followed an impulse to make my bed, got my shoes on, my travellers coffee mug, told my flat mates that we should smile and laugh more and almost ran downstairs. My first stop was a coffee shop where I often buy coffee and baked goods from. I opened the door and noticed an elderly woman walking in the direction of the door, so I waited and held the door open for her. Suddenly I realised that I touched the door and that it might be contaminated. On the other hand and at the same time, the elderly lady and I exchanged a smile and I thought that it was nice that we could still do that. A simple, small gesture and probably not something to think about but in that moment, I did and I appreciated it.
I approached the serving counter, simultaneously noticing the TV, that was turned on to the news channel with running headlines regarding the Corona virus. I tried not to look. I knew by this point that this wasn’t helping me feel any better. I needed clarity not more anxiety. I give the server my travellers mug and realise, “Oh don’t put the lid on the counter in case it’s contaminated.” Oh another thought of contamination. Other thoughts cross my mind and I start questioning whether I should start buying my own coffee so I can prepare it at home in case my server is infected. Avoidance strategies starting to develop in my mind. As I give the server my money, all with a smile and no sign of fear on her being, I forget and lay the lid of my travel mug on the counter. “Shit! I forgot!” And then she gives me the change. “Oh no, contact. Where was this money?” I then turn to leave the establishment and, “Shit! The door is closed. I have to touch the handle.” These were only 6 awareness I became aware of and eventually said, “Fuck it!”. And drinking my coffee I moved myself to the park, looking at everyone around me, trying to suss what they were all thinking and feeling. To my surprise people seemed pretty relaxed. I don’t know for sure of course since I cannot read minds.
Anyway, I make my way to my usual spot, coffee in hand and I sit down. I feel like crap, I’m scared and I don’t know what to do. I can feel the isolation creeping up on me, getting closer and closer. My mind and body in shambles. The disharmony overwhelming me. I remember my training. This time a Yoga mantra, “So Ham”, I am that I am. I breathe in “So” and exhale “Ham”. I do this a few times. I stop. I get distracted. I feel tears swelling up in my eyes. I’m not sure what to do. Worldly tasks require my attention. I attempt to give them my attention. I accidentally delete WhatsApp and all my social media Apps. Ironic! The isolation continues. I go ‘old school’ and attempt a telephone call. No answer. I send a text message. I complete my worldly task. A scheduling task related to a future that in this moment feels so uncertain to me. I do it anyway. Tears swelling up in my eyes again. I notice the sun. I let it in. I continue to sit and remember my mantra again. “So Ham” I am that I am. I breathe in and think “So”, and I breathe out I think “Ham”. I feel torn inside, but I continue to give my mind focus. I give it this task to think “So” on my in breath and “Ham” on my out breath. I continue to feel the nature around me. The strong wind howling in the trees, the breeze against my skin. Suddenly a leave blasts me in the face. Ouch! That hurt! That was a first. I’ve never been the victim of nature before. I’m noticing a pattern here.
So, more and more breathing. Following impulses, moving around, listening to music, listening to my own voice. I walk. Allowing the sun to feed me, I touch trees, I let myself be, more and more. I hum, I sing, I breathe, So Ham. I continue to walk. Thoughts rush into my mind and I work through them as I walk. With every step, a thought is moved and walked through. Another more allowing thought arises. Walking with a flow and a steady pace, so do the thoughts in my mind, finding structure, movement, release and freedom from confinement. Tears come, and go. I feel tired, I sit down. Somewhere else this time. A new perspective emerges. A new view. I continue to listen to my music. I laugh with it. It’s a recording of a rehearsal I had. I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to sing, but I listen and prepare myself as if I will anyway. So many unknowns right now, and all I got is now. All I got is my health. I start to feel better. Then I’m inspired to lie down on the stone slab I’m sitting on. Not my normal orthodox way of behaving, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I lie down. I feel my back spread over the stone. I sense a calmness. I feel my body more. It’s recovering from the stress I put it under. My mind is continuing to calm down. I look at the people. Dogs pass me by with interest. Their owners react. Children notice me, as they do. I smile. I remember my own children at work and how lovely they are and how they don’t seem to care much for panic and continue to play and be in the moment regardless of what the world says. I feel better now. I’ll take the kids’ advice, while washing my hands regularly and looking after myself. I remember how my mind affected the health of my body. How shitty I felt. “Oh no, a cough, a tickle in my throat, a muscle pain. Corona? Corona? Is that you?” No not yet. So I realise, “Stay healthy James. What does that mean? Stay healthy. Listen to your intuition. Eat healthily. What does that mean? Eat products that support your health and well-being. Be happy James. Laugh and remain in contact with the people you love. Not to complain and be in fear, but to celebrate each other, support each other and be in love with each other.” Those are my precautions and guidelines to healthy travel through this pandemic. My emotional and mental health matter too and will influence how well I deal with the inevitable. I feel less isolated now. I feel the love of nature around me and in me. I feel happy and grateful that I have loving friends and that we can do this together. I gather some facts, I put some procedures in place and now, there’s nothing more I can do, but wait, and see what comes next. To play and dance to the sound of my voice in the howling wind through the trees.