We are less affected by outside forces the more we practice, the more we are rooted in ourselves. And that presence is who we really are. As you practice, you become more present and less in thoughts.
I am a healthcare worker. My work involves educating patients on enteral feeding. When they can’t eat enough – or at all – by mouth, one alternate route is that they are fed directly into their guts. So that’s where I come in. I visit patients, mainly in hospitals, to give them the education they need to be able to go home. I always saw it as a bit of a gift – my visit gives them the “get out of hospital” free card. And in these crazy days more than ever people are wanting to be at home. They’re in a hospital bed – sometimes for months – watching the world from a television and a window and hearing about the pandemic, risks to health, importance of staying home, and feeling even more at risk and powerless.
Yesterday I drove hours, deep into the country, to visit a young girl with a feeding tube in place. She had been hospitalised for months and was happily and patiently waiting to go home. The weather wasn’t good. It was pouring rain and between the rain and the spray from the trucks, visibility was low. And then in the mountains the fog hit. I could see a little more than a car’s length in front of me. But slowly, and steadily, I made it to the hospital. I did the teaching and packed up to leave.
The gown, gloves and mask came off. I pressed the elevator buttons with my elbow and I paid my parking at the machine, trying to be careful about what I was touching, if I had used enough hand sanitizer and gotten it into all of the crevices of my nailbed. I got into the car, and sanitized my hands again. And then I started the long drive back to the city. But the drive back felt different. There were few cars on the road, and the fog was even thicker than before. There was an eerie silence. But the air smelled like pine and spring. And as I drove down the winding mountain roads, I thought about how I could only see what was right in front of me, but nothing in front of that – or in back. And I started to relax and enjoy it all.
We’re all living in uncertainty and fear on some level. It’s easy to give into it now more than ever – you can’t turn around without taking it in in some way. You can turn off the radio, the TV, social media and take a walk. But the streets are empty and the stores are closed. People are walking around with masks and gloves, and it’s hard to not think of “what if.” But the truth is that it doesn’t help anything to feed into the panic. All we know for sure is that we’re living in a moment – a new situation – we don’t know what is in front of us, but we know that if we’re ok now. We have food, shelter, water. We have connection, albeit virtually, and that’s a new normal for a lot of us as well.
As a yoga teacher I see my community posting all kinds of online classes, thoughts, meditations, reflections. I’ve been silent because there’s already so much out there, do you really need more? But as a dietitian, and a health and wellness provider, and as I get ready to go back into the hospitals on a Saturday morning – so that I don’t leave patients in the hospital for longer than they need to be – I wanted to share what I am getting from them, what is helping me, and what I can put out at this time.
Stay present, stay focused. Don’t look to far ahead. Enjoy the scenery – the fact that the sun rises every morning is certainly a sign that we are moving forward. Do what you can do to stay safe, but don’t let the thoughts derail your personal safety and security. Find what calms you and practice that. And when you don’t feel calm, practice that again. Keep coming back to it, whether it’s yoga, meditation, working out, walking, cooking, or booking facetime with friends. And ultimately the practice will become your peace – and your peace of mind.