For the last few weeks, many of us have been practicing social distancing. However, although we have barely left the house, many of us have experienced this time of isolation as shockingly busy and hectic!
The constant Covid-19 news updates, the hundreds of WhatsApp group chats, the dozens of daily messages from relatives and colleagues, the Skype or Zoom calls, scrolling through thousands of Insta stories every day, the virtual gym sessions and yoga classes, the cooking tutorials, Facebook sessions, life streamed gigs, concerts and parties, the infinite list of Facebook invites to participate in digital events. These weeks of social distancing were probably not as distant or anti-social as most would have expected. In some ways, we’ve been more connected than ever.
In these trying times, we are all doing our best to connect virtually, which has led to a boom in prosocial internet behaviour to bridge across our physical. However, we need to be careful that virtual reality and technology do not become an escape from our embodied day-to-day lives.
Engaging with online distractions, we run the risk of overwhelming ourselves with instant promises of connection to stave off negative feelings of loneliness and isolation. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that it’s ok to feel sadness and concern. It is ok to mourn what has been lost, in terms of our lifestyle, physical connections, and freedom to experience different environments.
Rather than jumping away from these difficult emotions, the therapeutic process is an invitation to stay with them a while. To acknowledge these changes and their effects on your life and the lives of your loved ones. Rather than escaping our complex feelings, healing starts when we acknowledge what is real to us in the moment.
In the words of Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt psychotherapy, the therapeutic connection invites us to “come back to the senses.” Rather then projecting idealised images of how things ‘should’ or ‘could’ be, it is an invitation to accept what is.
As the virus forces us indoors, this crisis is an opportunity for us to meet ourselves. If there is a silver lining in this crisis, it is the opportunity to be with ourselves, to rediscover the preciousness of time, to enjoy a slower pace of life, to breath. Rather than rushing from one place to another, from one meeting to another, from dusk til dawn, we can use this time as a space to strengthen our internal resources.
We have the time to ask ourselves, “What is essential in my life? What makes me passionate and joyful? How can my home become a place for hope and healing?”
Rather than distracting yourself and waiting for the buzz of notifications, messages, conference calls, take this time to listen to the rhythm of your heart. Do not be afraid to mute the world, and unmute your heart.
Pete Farrugia is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist. In his profession he explores the intersection of psychosocial wellbeing, spiritual development, and creative expression.