I heard a prisoner say, “You can lock me up and segregate me from the general inmate population, (gen-pop), but you cannot imprison my mind”.
For me, these words are relevant and applicable during the CORONAVIRUS pandemic, (COVID-19) and the precautions put in place. We are cautioned to practice regular hand washing, social distancing and to self-quarantine, and we are. Now what? Here is what. This change presents an opportunity to practice reflection and self-exploration and, being confined to our, homes is where the opportunity lies. Now, I am not talking about using the extra time to do chores. They do not require reflection and self-exploration.
I am talking about taking time to notice; to be aware of, and to reflect on the “self”, your “self”. It is not to sit and watch wall-to-wall news coverage about COVID-19, but to find what to do that is good, healthy and positive. Well, here is what you can do. It is a simple Mindfulness exercise you can do with your “self” or, preferably, with someone else. It is a worthwhile use of your time and your mind.
I imagine a tendency may be to use time surfing in cyberspace where being human is not applicable. However, the exercise can only be done in the real world, in the here and now, where and when being human is not only applicable, but essential.
Like you, I don’t have to allow my mind to be imprisoned by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am free to reflect and explore my “self”. But how do I “be” with my “self” in a house now filled with distractions?
If that is the case, ask that you be allowed the time and space to exercise. You may even make it a family affair. Invite them to join you in what is good, positive and beneficial. If they accept, you may want to lead the first session.
The exercise involves what we usually take for granted until they are diminished or lost; the doors to the outside world; our five senses. In doing the exercise, keep in mind that your sensibility is yours and yours alone.
Before you start, and this is important, you will need a snack. I use raisins. This aside for now, and if it is available to you, go out on the balcony or in your back yard. Find where it is most quiet. Sit or lay down. Just make sure you are comfortable. Be still with your breath and your thoughts as you begin to exercise.
Now, being mindful, you are going to engage the five senses, one by one for a few moments at a time. Use three minutes as a measure. If while you are engaged you get distracted by thoughts or anything else, calmly and gently come back to the exercise, and continue.
Now, comfortable in your position, take a deep breath and start noticing what you are hearing, from the loudest sound to the quietest. The loudest may be a truck driving by. The quietest may be the rustling of leaves on a tree. Three minutes later, shift your attention to your sense of smell. You may notice the scent of deodorant on yours or someone else’s body or you may notice the smell coming from the neighbor’s kitchen. You may notice no smell at all.
Next, start noticing what you see. Start from the biggest to the tiniest. For you, the biggest may be the house or building next door. The tiniest may be an Ant. It’s up to you to see and notice what you will.
With two senses left to pay attention to, take one raisin and give everyone else one. Hold it with your thumb and index finger. Massaging it gently, notice as much as you can about how it feels. Then, reward yourself for doing this exercise by putting the raisin on your tongue and chewing on it while noticing what happens in your mouth and how the raisin tastes.
At this point you will have engaged and noticed your five senses at work. You will have explored your “self” in ways you may never have. Doing this exercise on a regular basis will sharpen your senses.
Remember, your sensibility is yours alone. So too, is your experiences.
By the way, the sense of feel or touch is regarded by psychologist as the elementary sense, the one sense from which the others evolved.
Wait a minute, there is more. If someone had joined you in this exercise, open a conversation, each reflecting on their experience with each sense. Better yet, and mindful of social distancing, go for a stroll and have that conversation. There will be so much more to experience with your senses and your shared humanness in the real world we live in.
When you come back home you can do more. You can share your humanness with each other by playing a board game, watching a movie or doing those chores you had put off for some time now. With a free mind, and even being confined, doing chores could be fun. 😊