Adapting to change is a process

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that I’m not being so emotionally affected by the coronavirus situation. Seeing so many of my friends struggling, I feel bad that I myself am not. When my friends come tell me how difficult life is for them right now, I refrain from saying how I’m feeling ok about everything (except about the Brazilian president) – I don’t want to sound like I’m dismissing what they’re feeling, but at the same time I wanted to tell them that I completely understand what they are going through. I’ve been there. Not necessarily right now, but I’ve experienced huge unexpected changes that turned my life upside down, and all the uncertainties that came along with these changes.

I didn’t ask for any of these unexpected changes, yet I’ve had to find ways to cope with loneliness, emptiness, lack of money, lack of face-to-face interaction, to let go of so many different things, from objects to people, as well as my life and my lifestyle as I knew them.

Nevertheless, the same feeling of peace wasn’t there for me in Bali when all the coronavirus thing started. There, although I was still doing my sadhana, praying, seeing my psychologist, and talking to friends online, I wasn’t feeling grounded at all , some wounds were coming to surface, my emotions were everywhere, my digestive system (and so my brain) was suffering. So all of this shows that adapting to change and coping with difficulties is a process. It isn’t something we accomplish overnight, particularly if we are open to dive deeply into our heart and soul. So this coronavirus situation seems like a new stage of this long process, only now it got to a level where all feels familar – living with less, interacting with fewer people, being quieter and looking within. Perhaps all the hardship I’ve been through has somehow prepared me for this. And you know what? I didn’t get why all of these changes were happening to me if you asked me a few months ago. But now I can only think that it’s a f***ing privilege to be able to go so deep into my soul and understand myself, heal my wounds, and feel freer.

To all of my friends who are struggling – I see you, I feel you. As many of you helped me with supporting words, messages and calls in the recent past – I hope you can feel I’m there a little for you too. Going through uncertainty and change is hard, but let’s lean on each other. That’s what has got me going as you know, and I’m a strong believer that a support network and a tight nonjudgmental community are one of the most important things we can have in our lives. This situation might take a while to pass, it might be painful, but I’m certain that all of you are super resilient, and I’m really proud of you for enduring through these tough times. Big big hug.

On self-compassion

Today I naturally woke up during brahma muhurta, those one-and-a-half hours before sunrise, best time for knowledge and connection with divinity, as described in sacred texts like the ayurvedic Ashtanga Hridayam (for more on brahma muhurta, click here). I had set my alarm for 7 am, but at 5.14 am I was awake. I tried to go back to sleep, but my mind was too fresh and alert. It was pouring down outside and cold in the bedroom, yet I still sat down in bed encouraging myself to meditate. A mantra came to mind, and I found it on YouTube, focusing my attention on such a pure and touching chant – Namo Avalokiteshvara. If you haven’t listened to this mantra yet, I highly recommend – watching the video on YouTube (below) is highly soothing and moving.

Namo Avalokiteshvara is known as the Great Compassion Mantra. I heard it for the first time while watching the documentary Walk with Me – it had a profound effect on me; it really touched my heart and after a few minutes listening to it, I do feel like my heart is melting with compassion.

Compassion – and particularly self-compassion – has been an important aspect of this journey I’ve been through lately. I was raised to be tough, to hold my cry, to get things done no matter what emotions I was having, to never fail. So it’s natural that I go easily into a self-criticism mode and feel inadequate when/for having hard times. Or I just somehow ‘forget’ that I’m going through so much and start doing too much, putting on my plate many more things than it can hold, until I’m reminded through a chat with someone that I’ve been going through a tough time, and that it’s normal to take it easy. So more and more I’ve been finding that I need to practice self-compassion, self-kindness, and self-love while navigating this journey. And I think I’ve been succeeding in doing it here and there. When things get hard while I’m sorting things, packing, or just when emotions arise, I try and cultivate understanding and kindness toward myself. Like it happened yesterday – I was packing and this avalanche of emotions hit me, as my mind started to think about my uncertain future and the fact that I’m leaving my life as know it behind. I let the emotions flow, distanced myself from packing, thinking: it’s ok, I can sit with my emotions now and come back to packing tomorrow. For some, this might seem like a natural response. But for people who have always been criticised for having emotions and for their sensitivity, being so gentle on themselves may take lots and lots of practice, and a voice may still echo in their head questioning if being warm and accepting is really the right thing to do.

I’m glad I was up in brahma muhurta, with a fresh mind, ready to accept compassionate energy from the mantra, and with clarity about what I’ve been learning about self-kindness and being imperfect. This opens a new window to see everyone as imperfect, and to be compassionate and understanding also toward everyone around me. It’s a new perspective on life!