11. Racing to find new norms
How are you finding this digital age? Does it feel great to use your screens for different means - staying connected with loved ones? Or is being continually wedded to your phone or laptop giving you square eyes and a racing heartbeat?
I am enjoying the novelty of Zoom with friends on a Friday night, video recording birthday messages, and laughing with my partner and his band as they strike up ten different instruments - a virtual cacophony attempting weekly band-practice.
However, it is an interesting reflection noticing that digital is creeping in to become the new norm for connecting. We humans do this all the time. We find a void and we fill it. We consciously or subconsciously worry we may not cope with silence or too much time – discomfort compels us to find a familiar comfort. I am noticing more invites to social activities, virtual quizzes, a virtual home-party! We are so creative when the chips are down. But I am curious to know whether we are avoiding the adjustment phase we are in, and in so doing, missing the additional gift we've been given, a chance to attempt to sit with the challenges and understand them, to learn from them, and possibly even carve out new ways of living less frantic, and calmer lives.
It is also so very important to disconnect from our devices to prevent eyestrain, cognitive overload, musculoskeletal problems in that familiar mouse-hunch position, and the blue light emitted impacting on our circadian rhythms. We also know that it is exhausting being on non-stop video calls because we must concentrate harder to see the visual body-language cues that we subconsciously process and rely on for info.
Personally, I have felt weighed-down at moments with the number of messages, check-ins and requests for social meet-ups – anyone else feeling this? This can sound like a complaint, but when I reflect, I realise it's that negative voice of anxiety and worry "can I keep up with all the demands, have I the head-space to process it all without feeling overwhelm?". I feel huge gratitude for the wonderful people that fill up my world, but it is equally important to acknowledge the emotions and feelings present – and that they may be contradictory and confusing.
What feels important to me right now is to allow things to unfold rather than forcing new norms. For many however the need to maintain contact and stay connected will be a very real concern, and to find new and regular meetups will be hugely important. It comes back to balance.
This is where a mindfulness practice can support; become aware of the emotions that might underpin behaviours and establish what is right for us 'in this moment' so that we don't tip the scales too far one way, or the other.
Today I want to invite you to check-in with yourself, see if you can identify what emotional drivers may be present in any actions that you are about to embark upon, and then you can decide if it's the right course of action for you today. It is going to take a lot of time for us to fully assimilate and learn from all that has and is still happening, so let us see if we can become more attuned to what our inner voice needs.
Re-visit the R.A.I.N. practice for this. I have recorded a slightly different one for this purpose.
Recognize what is happening.
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is.
Investigate with interest and care.
Nurture with self-compassion.
Go gently, remember to practice non-judgemental awareness, kindness, and lean into any difficulties gently, if it is too much pull back, tune into your senses – listen to sounds, count objects in the room, notice your breath.
And remember you can practice with positive emotions also! In-fact right now, I would actively encourage this. However, with a practice we are not striving to keep a hold of or cling onto something positive – that can also cause us to suffer, we simply allow it to be there as it is.
Look after yourselves.