If it is true that everything is energy, that we are all connected with our environment and with each other, as we have learned in quantum physics – and it is – we urgently need a new paradigm of health that takes feelings, thoughts, consciousness, environment into consideration when caring for patients, giving treatment for illnesses and especially dealing with cronic diseases. And if the macro level reflects the micro level, the same thing that we can relate to us as individuals, also relates to the world.
Was the Earth showing signs of sickness, already before the corona crisis? Climate change, levels of stress and illnesses related to lifestyle flourished. Society was showing signs of fatigue – people were overwhelmed with work, with offers and possibilities, were tempted instead by the easy choice of staying at home with social media. Calendars were filled up. There were so many offers and so much to choose between. Another fun family activity was just another item, just another overwhelming option, another burden or plight. Many chose to stay at home anyway. Children were not running out to play in the streets, as they did in my childhood. Drawn to virtual playgrounds. Roblox as the free-of-charge nanny.
What most of us really needed before the corona crisis was a refuge from all the to-do lists; just a SPACE for not another to-do-thing, a just-to-BE space. More and more of us got sick, fell apart in crisis, stress or with illness, and had to push the stand-by button for the soul to have its space of slowness and stillness to survive and feel its own needs.
During the corona crisis we have – or have had – the strange situation of having been IMPOSED a self-quarantine. Where we HAVE TO stay at home with our family and our computer. Even if we already did that, to some extent, our freedom to meet and do as we like is restrained. Some of us have a lot of open time. There are limits imposed on us. This is creating a greater contrast in our lives; between what we want and what we do not want. It gets even clearer what we need: We need social contact. We do want to get out of our homes and meet other people. We do want physical, live interaction and events. We do want a real, physical hug and kiss.
Interestingly, imposed limits has always been the creatives’ answer to create great art, and to get over creative blockages. A good example is Lars von Trier’s dogma films. That is what is showing up now: in these days of self-quarantine, where options are very limited, where range of travel is very limited, where physical meetings are very limited, our creativity is blooming. We are forced to think in new ways, and we do.
The situation we are in now, as a result of the corona virus spreading fast on a global scale and governments all over the world setting in sharp measures to stop the spreading of virus, is a situation of crisis and lockdown of society. People are forced to stay at home and forced to stand on the outside of society, not being able to participate physically – although actually really participating more than ever before, perhaps, online.
For some, this is a situation of isolation and exclusion from society. The whole situation, where looming, unpredictable illness, restrictions, economic recession and death, creates fear and uncertainty. Health issues are in focus, as those with chronic illnesses or vulnerabilities, are at special risk.
The exclusion from society for a shorter or a longer period has always been the trajectory of many individuals who from one reason or another have been forced to stay at home: because of being out of work, because of illnesses or injuries, or because of a psychological crisis or stress, putting them in a situation of standby for a longer or shorter time, excluded from “normal” participation in work and public life. Health issues may (consciously or not) accentuate and make us feel our loss of contact with ourselves and our body. It may create a reconnection with a longing for “something more” than a busy working life: deep connection, spirit, nature, creativity…
What makes the current situation so special, is that so many people, in large parts of the world, are imposed exclusion from their everyday working environment, and forced to stay at home. A large part can still participate online and do stay in touch with both their job identity and social work setting. For many, though, it creates a feeling of being excluded from society and from one’s normal job and social identity, feeling isolated.
This brings up new perspectives on my own role in society, and brings up the accentuated longing for “something more” that we do not usually have the time to reflect upon. A longing for connection, an acute awareness of an existential dimension to life, the need for finding trust and hope in a spiritual dimension, the sickness bringing a focus on our bodies and health. Nature, yoga, meditation are true friends.
Being thrown out of society, stranded alone in the desert, we begin to question everything. Disconnected from ourselves and social connections, some go into a deep crisis that they will have to accept and to go through in order to rise stronger. This is an inward journey of initiation to your own feelings, needs, and existential fears.
This process is now happening on a national and even global level, at a collective consciousness level.
We need to hold a space for this crisis to be seen, understood and acknowledged, to create a space for naming and feeling the existential, personal and social longings. Because it holds true potential, for more awareness, more contact to what is really the most important for us – our needs and deeper longings – not only as individuals, but as societies, nations, the whole globe.
So what happens when we return to society?
Many people who have experienced being excluded from society through sickness or stress, have been forced back into work by economic necessity, or in our welfare state of Denmark, by the state job centers imposing return to work life through different measures of support and/or threat.
Although the first impulse when getting sick for many is to “just get back to my normal life and to my old job!”, for many the process of being forced into stillness and existential questioning, gives life a new dimension. More depth, more contact with feelings, needs and yearnings. More contact with the small wonders of life, as well as with the feeling of “something more”, a longing for meaning and connection that has no time or space in normal everyday life.
More or less prematurely ushered back into society, some feel a sense of resistance to going back to the old job. We reconnect to the old vague dissatisfaction with a life we have had a (forced) break from. And a sense of urgency. How do I go back to my working life? Where do I really want to work, what do I really want to do? What if my old job suddenly lost its meaning to me, or if I want to do it in a different way, now that I have more contact to my deeper needs? How can I keep this dear-felt contact to “something more”, something “deeper in me” that has given my life a new dimension during this break? Especially difficult to hold on to as I cannot easily communicate it in words, not to speak of in terms of job descriptions?
Being put on pause brings up questions and yearnings that were not present as life rolled itself out in its busily scheduled deadlines.
We are witnessing that what has been an individual journey at a deep personal level, in the individual’s loneliness from being excluded from a society that continued to roll on, is now a collective journey – and the most amazing thing is that it is also society itself that is put on standby. It might not be as intense a feeling of being alone, as we are not the only ones excluded, and the whole society is on standby. But it is globalized, we all feel the way we are all united, and we might go through many of the same stages.
As the individual hero’s journey, this collective journey is important in making us prepared to stand strong in the face of big challenges. Who knows, if that is not just what we need, faced with a global climate crisis, that can be much worse than this pandemic, if we do not face it and act now.