Confined: do we take the opportunity to change everything?

Before changing everything, let’s accept that “everything has already changed”. Let’s not necessarily add more change. Let’s accept the situation and keep in mind that it is a temporary measure. Then let’s do one thing every day that we couldn’t do before confinement and enjoy it.

If you are not on the front line, this is a great time to “waste time” and stop being so dammed productive. Some will change everything in their home, go through stuff and reorganize. They will try to busy their time.

My advice would be to do little until you reach the point of boredom. Boredom is always creative. There is always an idea, a desire, something new that comes out of boredom. Welcome and cultivate it. Even after the end of the confinement.

What do Chinese sacred arts teach us in this time of confinement?

All Chinese techniques are servicing vitality and aim at maximum impact. There is no striking power without previous accumulation of forces. The confinement imposes self-centering, introspection and self-awareness. Fussing is useless and counterproductive. This is a great time to reflect, clarify one’s position and prepare for the next step (i.e. what we will do when the situation returns to free movement of people).

This cannot be the repetition of all previous habits (including bad ones). Or the test we are going through right now will have been useless.

After decades of acceleration and agitation, the world is experiencing a pendulum adjustment. We too have to adjust our posture i.e. outlook, processes, believes etc.

How to get something positive out of it?

First by resting, literally for those who can (Many are on the front line). By accepting reality as it is: there is nothing we can do to lift the confinement apart from fully applying it. By understanding that individual constraint is currently at the service of collective survival. By making a list of all the things we promise ourselves to do when the containment is lifted. By making the list of all the things that we will never do again. Finally by keeping these two promises.

How to avoid getting “caught” by the negative thoughts of this anxiety inducing period?

It’s impossible to escape anxiety because everyone is connected to News channels and social networks. And the awareness of a danger remains a quality more than it is a weakness. However, securing moments without media connection is a good way to keep a cool head. Focusing on an activity that keeps your mind busy is another good way (start a family tree, sort out photos, clean drawers). Get off the couch.

When negative thoughts overflow, chasing them away is sometimes less effective than giving them a voice. I would recommend 2 x 5 minutes a day of pure panic. Indulge. Imagine the worst, then go wash your hands, go vacuum, do something useful. When the body moves, the head wanders less.

What “keys” or which exercises (from your latest book or other) would you recommend in this new reality?

Confinement has created an empty space: we can no longer run in all directions and options are limited. We now find ourselves facing ourselves and this could be scary. One exercise would be to find at least one thing to do differently every day. Many “telework”. Seniors discover iPad. Vegetable seeds are planted on window stills and balconies. People learn to trust neighbors again. More say thank you.

I would suggest a trying but effective exercise: sit 5 minutes a day, every day at the same time, facing a completely empty wall. Without telephone. Do it for 5 days. Something will come out of it I can assure you. Let me know.

What prospect for the future?

The future is not written. We are writing it together. The longer the confinement, the more difficult it will be to return to business as usual. Some will decide to stay in the area they went to weather the storm, others will not come back to their previous jobs or even habits. Divorce will happen. New ideas will have emerged.

Withing a few days of stand still, one could see the stars again in the sky of Paris. Once we had to collectively calm down, the planet gave us a gift . This collective test shows that we can change the world one person, one act, one day at a time when we act together. This is a major step.

My advice would be that each of us makes a promise, both for our own health and that of the world and stick to it. Collectively this will make more than 60 million virtuous acts in France alone. 7.5 Billions worldwide. Lets’ do it.

© Marie-Pierre Dillenseger

10th Day of Confinement, Paris, March 2020

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