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Quarantine Apathy

Three ways to combat despair during isolation

As the rain pours and the evening draws to a close, I am swallowed by a prevailing sense of apathy that has grown for weeks in quarantine. At first, this feeling crept into my ambition. It sucked away my longing for a successful career serving humanity. Next, it slipped into my desire for affection. I found myself unmotivated to care for my body. Then it slid into my relationship with my spiritual path. I began to recoil at all outward forms of spirituality. Tonight, it edged into the fledgling pages of my book. Doubts assail me about my ability to write for healing.

This apathy is like the Nothing from the Never Ending Story. It blows in as a storm and destroys everything in its path. I am gripped with fear that this Nothing will leave me empty, that I have lost my way and will never find home.

In the midst of this anguish, from the power of words, a quiet voice calls out. She says that this too shall pass. She reminds me that this Nothing is merely clearing a path for Something. She says, “pray and be still.”

The fear releases its grip a little. I remember that rain brings renewal in her wake. Doubt and depression spring from uncertainty and we are a world unraveled.

That voice, she is my soul. She whispers, “Be still and know that I am God.” I will wait for the change to come.

These waves of apathy are to be expected. The remedies we try are many and have varying effectiveness.

When overcome by these moments, if we can cling to our inner knowing that this too shall pass, we can avoid some of the pitfalls that cause others to stumble. We can avoid the remedies that break us further. The soothing balms of drugs, alcohol, and emotional avoidance that spiral us further toward depression can be avoided.

Here are three tools for being still during these cresting waves of apathy:

  1. Rest well and listen: when we feel Nothing, it is our mind and body crying for rest. Allow yourself the grace to sink. Sink into the couch, the chair, the bed. Listen to something beautiful as you do this and your mind will lift upward, even as your body sinks down.
  2. Reconnect with nature: in nature, we feel our place and purpose most clear. Walk in the healing embrace of nature’s beauty. Walk slowly and without a destination. Let your movement be restful and drink in your surroundings.
  3. Breathe deeply: we are trained to breathe from our chest. As women, even more so, for breathing from our belly causes it to momentarily expand, God forbid! But to breathe deeply is to begin the process of healing. Place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your side ribcage. Now, slowly and with concentration breathe in through your nose. Fill first your belly (actually your diaphragm, but it feels like your belly), then ribs, then upper chest. Feel as if your entire body is a balloon. The release the breath again through the nose, first from your upper chest, then ribs, then belly. This is called the Full Yogic Breath. Do three to six rounds and notice how your mind and body have changed.

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- MARCUS AURELIUS

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