If our collective COVID experience is like a marathon, as far as social isolation goes, I think I’ve hit the wall.
Apparently, it is common after mile 18 or so for many marathoners to deplete their glycogen or carbohydrate stores and experience fatigue so extreme they literally feel like they’ve run into a stack of bricks. Hitting the wall, or bonking, is described as a time when both body and mind are challenged—a time when one’s pre-race plans go out the window. Sound familiar?
Remedies are physical (consume small amounts of carbohydrates) and also mental (positive self-talk, visualization, keeping your focus on your goal).
COVID has certainly thrown most of my “pre-race” plans out the window, and my bonking strategy is to get out of my mind space and step into the present moment.
Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle says: “Most humans are never fully present in the now because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.”
Yikes, I’ve missed a bunch of my life! We are all so addicted to distraction: social media, television, consuming, worrying about the future, replaying the past, judging others, judging ourselves…you name it. It seems the simplest thing—just being here now—is the most difficult.
But, since most of my pre-virus plans have been scrapped, I’ve got time to practice. And the more I practice, the more life I get to enjoy!
The most effective techniques for me include body awareness, movement and nature, so this summer I have been practicing a five-senses walking meditation. Simply put, I walk in nature focusing on what I can take in with each of my five senses individually. For example, what do I notice with my eyes in the far distance, in my periphery, in the middle distance, close up? If my mind begins to wander, I bring myself back to the sense I was attuning to before I wandered off.
After moving through each of the five senses, I take a moment to connect with my overall sensation. What did I perceive from the trees, grasses, rocks, ground, air and creatures? Generally, it is a strong sense of peace and a tighter connection to now. I audio-recorded a guided version of this practice, so if it is of interest to you, message me and I am happy to share! I would also love to know what you rely on to bring yourself to the present moment.
I’m not a marathon runner, but I imagine the appeal of the experience for most people is less about finishing in first place and more about personal growth. If social isolation is the race in which I learn how live more in the present moment, I will count myself a winner.