Hibernation, Cocoons, and Rebirth; the Coronavirus.
March 17, 2020
I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
We are living in some dark times. This year was supposed to be a big one for me because it is all about building on some exciting plans for my future. Plans that will lead to one of the greatest chapter’s of my life; instead it has become the year of the Coronavirus!
It feels like ever since I returned from my trip to Goa, the world has been swallowed up by an evil spirit. We were aware of the coronovirus last year from news coming in from China but who ever expected it to so change our lives here in the UK?
We have heard the frightening stories of recent deaths in this country and a growing pit has appeared in our stomachs; an almost indescribable uneasiness. This is big, this is bad and soon our lives will change dramatically.
First the rest of the world started shutting down, borders closed; ‘stay at home’!
Everywhere except my beloved India it seems; the Facebook post below made me smile for the first time in weeks.
But then the news came; the government said this is a pandemic and you must stop going out, stop socialising, stop going to work.
SELF ISOLATE; STAY INDOORS!
But what does this all mean for us? For the hippies, the trance bunnies, the global nomads, the psychedelic children of the world. The huggers, the lovers, the party people; the whirly tribe?
Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who l am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
Many of us are now choosing to self isolate, all of us will be going out less, working from home, avoiding social gatherings. Supermarket shelves are empty, medicines are in demand and operations at hospitals are being postponed.
This affects all of us, my friends are worried about losing their jobs, I was due to start some agency work this week but that’s been put on hold for at least two months and the release of my book will be put back till the end of the summer; our lives are now on hold and that’s frustrating.
First of all lets have a reality check here. 4 out of 5 people who catch this virus have mild symptoms and they then make a full recovery. Also when you have had coronavirus you build up an immunity which means eventually things will calm down the more people who catch it. That does not mean love ones will not be lost, they will and that is the terrible reality of this virus. Herd immunity means the more people who have had it, the more immunity is built up and less cases will be recorded. Eventually a vaccine will be found.
But that is in the future and we are here facing the realities of the here and now and the fact we need to stay at home: cocoon ourselves, hibernate.
But what does that mean for people like us. Will our lives just stand still?
It is this unusual situation I want to focus on today.
This is purely my perspective on this but I hope it helps you to reassess the situation.
Having to stay home because of the pandemic is of course troubling in many ways, especially if your job is at risk or a frail family member is sick and you cannot be there to support them. Financial and security worries are a great cause for concern but what about the psychological side of things; the new and unusual situation of being at home cut off from friends and social stimulus.
Hopefully a relatively brief period of self isolation (three months) may not necessarily be a bad thing if you examine things from a psychological point of view. Approaching things from a meditative focusing perspective is the way to go, the time could be used in a positive way to build towards the future.
Use the time wisely in order to come out the other end of this situation feeling refreshed, in control and ready for whats next. Like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.
By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
Songwriters: Joni Mitchell
Woodstock lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
First lets explore the negative side of cocooning ourselves.
Let me start by explaining my credentials on this subject, I am a qualified psychotherapist and I have written a few essays on existentialism as well as having read many books on the subject. I practised as a counsellor for a few years before becoming a mental health advocacy worker and then an administrator in the field.
To me social interaction is very important, we are social animals and we work best within a crowd because we feed off of each others emotions, ideas and aspirations.
Existential theorist see it like this:
“Existentialism generally also carries a social or political dimension. Insofar as he or she is authentic, the freedom of the human being will show a certain ‘resolution’ or ‘commitment’, and this will involve also the being – and particularly the authentic being – of others.”
Most people I know, in my whirly world, love to hug hello, kiss our friends cheek or shake hands. We love to show affection towards others, it comforts them and makes us feel warm and cuddly too. We love to chat, to catch up, to share each others experiences and to learn from each other. We love to play together, through sport, clubbing, festivals, gigs, the local pub or a night out at a restaurant; all of this feeds our need for social interaction. But what happens to us when that is taken away for a lengthy amount of time; just like now with us being asked to avoid social gatherings, social interaction and to self isolate ourselves due to the coronavirus?
Here is an interesting article on the subject:
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL INTERACTION TO HUMAN HEALTH
September 14, 2012 · HEBF Latest ·
“Social support and social interaction are one of the most important factors in predicting the physical health and well-being of everyone, ranging from childhood through older adults. Although social interaction is complex, I believe that it is vital to human health, both mentally and physically.
Many people find it hard to open their hearts and share their feelings and problems. However, social interaction where people can express their feelings and share their problems with other people has a beneficial outcome on human health. Good social support might also help coping with stress and major life changes like a divorce, redundancy, moving house etc. It is proved that lonely people more often suffer from cardiovascular problems, stress and depression. Knowing that we are valued by others is an important psychological factor in helping us to forget the negative aspects of our lives, and thinking more positively about our environment. Friends and family can also reduce stress by saying things which boost a confidence and giving moral encouragement.
Social support not only helps improve a person’s well-being, it affects the immune system as well, where the lack of social interaction can negatively lead to first signs of depression and anxiety. However, we are still not sure about what comes first, depression or social isolation. With life-threatening conditions such as cancer or HIV/AIDS, a strong social network can aid in recovery and improve quality of life, which is very important for a mental health of a seriously ill person. During my study of Psychology I tested 40 women (aged 40-80) with chronic vertebral disorders. I proved that social support had a positive influence on better quality of the life (theatre visiting, socializing with friends and family, holidays etc.), which positively affected physical and mental health (less occurrence of depression and anxiety, better pain management).
It is highly appearing that our health is in some ways strongly dependent on other people. Social support and social interaction have a positive influence on human beings’ physical and mental health. It lowers occurrence of stress, depression, anxiety and also highly affects our endocrine-immune system. So at the end we can say People need People.”
The other issue with self isolation is the danger of ‘standing still’, putting everything ‘on hold’. This means you could potentially lose valuable time; namely 3 to 18 months of your life. If you choose to just lay around watching TV you will lose your ambition, weaken your cognitive abilities and turn into a sloth like turnip (its the first vegetable that came to my mind), nobody wants to come out of their cocoon a lesser person than they went in. You want to come out a beautiful colourful butterfly not a underdeveloped pupa not ready to spread your psychedelic wings in the post virus world.
So how can we use this time wisely?
First of all, regarding that all important social interaction; use social media! My mum is in her 80’s and is now self-isolating. She lives in Hove on the South coast. I have just introduced her to WhatsApp. You can text message, voice chat or even video call each other. She loves it already and we have been chatting every day. This is a perfect way of keeping tabs on your loved ones, as is Skype. In this day and age you can be in constant contact with your friends face to face on Skype, WhatsApp and you can also keep tabs on each other’s lives on Facebook. So as far as social interaction goes its not as bad as it would have been a couple of decades ago.
I know its not the same as real contact but it will get you through this strange period. Don’t just ring on the phone, the eyes are just as important in social interaction, find a way to talk face to face and this will soften the blow. Before you know it this will have passed and you can hug your friends or relatives for as long as you like.
Use the time wisely; dont stand still.
If you are working from home, put your efforts into doing that well and if you feel your job is at risk, spend your time re-writing your CV and setting up the job search engines ready for when things get more settled, that way you will be ready to start finding a new more secure roll when you come out of your cocoon; dont sit on your laurels and worry; be proactive and use the time.
As far as my own personal situation goes, I am currently not able to start my new receptionist role because the charity I was going to work for have chosen to work from home for the foreseeable, So, I am going to concentrate on my other projects instead.
My first hippie kushi book will now be delayed in its publication date for the same reasons (which is a good thing in the current climate), so I am working hard writing the second book in the series. By the time I break out of my cocoon it will be all but done and ready to send to the publishers; so, moving forward not standing still.
I am also in the process of setting up an online hippie clothes and jewellery business with my business partner. There is a lot to do, including setting up the website, getting wholesalers in place and much much more. Using this time to set all this up will be invaluable and I can have meetings with my business partner via Skype. So when I am ready to break out of my cocoon we will be ready to move onto the next stage leading up to opening the online store; not standing still, moving forward.
The key is, what can you be doing with all this time to improve your situation?
Most importantly there are other more psychologically rewarding ways we can be using our isolation:
During those quiet moments, take time to clear your mind. Set you self up some time and space to meditate; its truly a wonderful experience.
“Meditation has been practiced in India for thousands of years because people knew that it reduces stress, calms the mind and increases inner peace. In the 1970s medical researchers at Harvard University began studying a form of meditation from India called Transcendental Meditation®. They found that during the practice of meditation the body has what they call the relaxation response, which gives the body deep rest that is deeper than the rest from sleep. They also found that through regular meditation that deep rest builds up in the body over time, and it is that deepening reservoir of rest that reduces stress and results in the many benefits of meditation.
Stress accounts for over 60% of doctor visits.
Harvard researchers and others continued to study meditation and found that it can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of heart disease and stroke, can help relieve stress, depression, insomnia, sleeplessness, anxiety and worry, and can increase productivity, learning, happiness, well-being and inner peace. And people report having more mindfulness and deeper transcendence from Inner Peace Meditation and that it’s easy to learn.”
- Keep Fit
Its really important to keep fit while we are stuck in doors for months. I personally have a set of exercises from my physio that help the mending of my broken arm after my accident but I also like to walk. We are told short walks outside are OK as long as we keep a social distance from others.
This keep fit stuff is really important because if we just sit around the house we will end up facing other health issues when we pop out of our cocoon.
- Be Creative
I love to make art and this (above) is my current work in progress. If you can draw, or paint or make pottery or sculptures; go for it; be creative. If photography is your thing, take some amazing photos. If you like to write then use the time to create and free your mind; be it fiction, factual or poetry.
Reading is also a wonderful thing to do, read up on that next country you plan to visit (something to get excited about), read that great story or that life inspiring biography; come out of your cocoon more knowledgeable.
- Move Forward, Plan for the Future
This is the perfect time to lay down plans for when you break free. Plan your next travels, a change of career or a move to a new country; use the time; dont stand still. By the time you come out of your cocoon you will be ready for brand new adventures.
The day will come when either a vaccine is created or we have all built up an immunity to this virus (or at least have a strong enough immunity). The time will come when its time to open that cocoon, come out of hibernation and break free like the beautiful butterfly you are!
We would have used our time in isolation to its fullest and come out stronger, more resilient and beaming with hippie kushi creativity and love for life!
We will meet up with our friends and family again and our bond will feel stronger than ever. We will hug and kiss and shake hands.
It will take time for things to return to normal but they will eventually. We will drink in pubs with our mates again, we will enjoy dancing at clubs to trance music again, we will enjoy great live music and fill our bellies in fabulous restaurants.
We will be Hippie Kushi again. We will dress in colourful clothes and return to Whirl-y-gig, Psymera and Parlour Party. We will travel to Thailand, India and all the worlds most wonderful places. We will dance in the main tent at Whirly-Fayre and we will wear flowers in our hair! We will not waste our time in isolation…
…we will prepare!