I initially wrote this more for myself as I try to make sense of the new reality we’re all facing at the moment. Working from home, unable to meet family and friends and – maybe worst of all – not knowing what tomorrow will bring. I initially didn’t want to share it because the last few days have been very fearful. But then again, I thought maybe some of you could benefit from my experience and how – at least sometimes – I’ve managed to find moments of peace and clarity in the seemingly mundane.
When the reality of the coronavirus epidemic finally hit Indonesia earlier this month, my thoughts immediately went to our artisans. More than 100 families who rely on our business being sustainable for their living wages. Yet the cut in revenue was brutal – compounded by the fact that we simply don't know when things will change. Being completely self-funded, we don’t have investors to bail us out. I knew that no matter the cost, we have to survive this. But I was not sure what I should do.
And so my journey down the rabbit hole began.
Being the nerd that I am, I went deep into research into contingencies to keep our social enterprise alive in this recession. First, I wanted to get a better idea of the pandemic's impact, diving right into health and business experts' analyses of the matter and understanding different scenarios. What became clear then was that there is still so much we don’t know – but it doesn’t look good. Next I took to case studies. The closest being the global financial crisis in 2008, I scoured deep into the internet to read about how businesses, big and small, had braced through the recession. But that wasn’t enough, I had to read about how governments all around the world are managing the outbreak so I can have a plan – even when it changes every hour.
I was so consumed by my research I barely slept. Crawling into the covers at 3 a.m every night took a toll on my health. Apparently, stress is not conducive to immunity (yeah). I spent the weekend nursing my fever. To make things worse, I sprained my thumb from too much screen time. It was the opposite of calmly navigating through the waves. I felt so powerless against a wave that was inevitable. Of not being enough.
It was then that the Universe provided me with a much needed slap in the face. With a book that I’ve always promised to read but were always too busy to. Among all the gems in it, a paragraph really struck me: “When we get our minds stuck in the clouds – pretty clouds, ugly clouds – we cannot see that they are impermanent, that they have a life on their own, and that they will pass on, if we let them.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how Denica finally came out of her rabbit hole.
Or so you would think right? Isn’t that how these stories are supposed to go?
Well, honestly, I’m still in it. The unease it still there and I’m going in and out of it at least 10 times a day. But I’ve found myself a better, healthier coping mechanism rather than being trapped in my worries and fears: Rituals I can follow, small things I can notice to keep me centered and in the present – the only point in time that really matters right now.
The unease it still there and I’m going in and out of it at least 10 times a day. But I’ve found myself a better, healthier coping mechanism rather than being trapped in my worries and fears.
It started with just watching my breath. Every time I felt like the world was going to end, I breathed in. I breathed out. I stood still, showing up for the moment as it is. I started to realize, the world wasn’t ending. The world was beautiful. Is beautiful. And right in front of me. From there, I was able to get back to work, focus on what I could do, right now.
As I kept practicing, something strange happened. I started noticing things I hadn’t noticed in a long time. The steam rising from the coffee mug in the morning mist. The little cracks in my favorite coffee mug. The sound of crickets in the distance, the smell of the wind. The tiny hairs on Bertram’s cheek that go up when he smiles.
Rituals that Connect
I started developing little rituals I follow every day: small acts done with awareness and intention.
Like my morning ritual: going to the balcony to water the plants every morning, watching the water disappear into the brown potted Earth, as if returning home. Making my bed, preparing breakfast and cleaning up. I cherish my 10am meeting on Skype with my team.
And a calming afternoon ritual: Do a few calming Yoga postures such as forward bends, child’s pose, and my favorite: Savasana, to just let go. This relaxes your muscles & mind and creates a mental switch that work is done for the day.
I felt like these rituals somehow grounded me. Whenever I adhered to them, it wouldn’t be so easy for my mind to distract me and send me straight back to panic mode. They are what connect us to the little things that we often forget are gifts from the Earth.
A homemade ceremony has the power to focus our attention to a way of living that is awake.
And deep inside of me is a wish for you to feel the same.
So try it. Stay still for a second. Take a deep, conscious breath in. And a deep conscious breath out. With your next breath in, feel the present moment. And when you breathe out, feel this wonderful moment.
Feel how life continues, in all its forms. At this very second, in every corners of the world, flowers are blooming and life is birthed. The world is okay. And so are you.
Do you feel it?