Consciousness; the state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings.
This is my third attempt at writing this post. I actually had a draft ready to post about six weeks ago, I never finished the edits. Re-reading what I had written, I thought, well yes it’s all true, however that was me five weeks ago. Now I am in a different head space and seeing things from a different angle.
The sun goes down at the front of my mums house. The other day I was sat in a big chair, facing the front window as the sun was setting. It’s summer time now so the sun is setting after 9pm. I sat there, ambient music softly playing in the background, watching orange light move across the sky, and the fluffy lavender clouds lazily moving with the soft breeze. It was beautiful. I found myself feeling like I wanted to cry. I immediately was asking myself why I was feeling like this. What other emotions was I feeling? Was I really ok? The conclusion I have come too, which I have actually felt many times in quarantine, is that I wasn’t unhappy, I wasn’t really happy, I just had this sense of extreme presence in that moment. Almost like an arrival. I was 100% present & conscious in those quiet moments, allowing the flow of emotions to just ebb & flow over me, like soft waves on a sandy beach.
I am used to spending time by myself. I love spending time alone with my thoughts, wrapped up in my little world. During this time in quarantine I have had an abundance of it. The first couple of weeks felt like a holiday really. In the beautiful countryside, staying in the family home. I had my family and everything I could need and want (apart from the gym!) it was great! There was food and sunshine and a bath! Dogs and a bunch of free time to relax. As the weeks ticked by tensions rose and my feeling of ‘holiday’, eased. I felt pressure to be productive and have a plan. I felt profound guilt when I started to deviate from my usual food plan, when I didn’t do one of the home workouts I had planned, when I didn’t do any work I’d told myself I would. So much guilt. I’d say I have pretty high standards for myself, and high expectations about my day to day life. I function, and am happier when I do this. So all this guilt I was covering myself in after reading social media or thinking about what my weekly intentions had been, really started to make me unhappy. I felt like I was fighting my desire to achieve and push to accomplish daily, and also the soft voice that was telling me to just sit in calm and be with myself. I ignored the quiet voice for weeks & weeks. I didn’t want to let myself slip into old habits of oversleeping, watching tv and being unproductive. The quiet voice won. As recent weeks have gone past I have spent time journalling, doing what I feel in the moment, rather than what I felt I need to do. I have become more focused on things I would normally have put aside to make way for money income jobs, & keeping up the appearance of being a hard worker. That has been one of the biggest realisations I’ve had in this time in quarantine. Looking, to others, that I am a really hard worker. To no ones surprise, this does not actually make me happier. Working more does not mean making progress & happiness. I realised I had been feeding myself this false truth for years. ‘If people see me working harder they’ll admire me more’. Turns out, I don’t actually give a crap about what others think about how much I work. People care about what you give, not how much you give. I still don’t know why I was telling myself this lie for so long. Perhaps living in a fast-pace, competitive city, & industry, made me forget about quality over quantity. Anyhow, having this downtime has allowed me to remember this very important truth.
I was talking to my friend yesterday, she asked how I was doing, I told her about me feeling like crying whilst watching the sunset & realising that this is what it feels like to just be. The demands of our daily lives is busier & moving quicker than it ever has before. I feel, for so many of us now, we are realising that some of the external factors we told ourselves we ‘needed’ we actually don’t, the ‘less is more’ saying comes to mind. In this time I have created more, written more & woken up, more days than not, content with just being. No fixed ideas on what I was doing that day, no demanding lists or guilt waiting to pressure me when I changed my mind about not doing something.
As life looks to return to more familiar times I know there is a lot I will return too. I will be moving back to London, I will be going back to work, I will be going back to the gym and have more of a routine. However I feel all of this will be looked at through a different lens. That truly putting yourself first means asking myself what is it that I need & why I am doing the things I’m about to do. The why is the most important, as I said above, for so long I told myself, the more I work, the better I will look. Where did this come from? Why did I stop thinking about me first when thinking about something directly effecting my life? What changed? Then when I had time to reflect on previous habits & the things I have left behind, I thought about how happy I was making the time and putting in the effort to do things I really actually wanted to do, create, write, read. Then I thought why am I pushing myself to do things that aren’t actually benefiting me? And there the answer was, there wasn’t one. Plain & simple. Of course we can’t live our lives doing just the things we feel like, & as I said to a friend the other day, it’ll be another forty years or so before I am just gardening, reading & baking all day, everyday. But there is an important lesson here. We are in control of our lives & who & what we put into it. Taking the time to be conscious of our forever changing mind, body & heart means we can stay connected with our being and connection with our inner self. Whilst the world is waiting, posed, ready to welcome us back to our familiar normality, I am sat back, taking my time to observe the feelings I have when I think about me allowing certain things to return to my life.
In our rush to return to ‘normality’ lets ask ourselves, Why am I choosing to do this again? What am I gaining by allowing this in again? Will it lead to more fulfilment & happiness?
Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.