We are into our sixth day of “Stay Home” and we have another 24 days to go. Have you been staying home? I hope you have set up some routines and rituals to make this ‘Stay Home’ meaningful and rewarding.

I understand that for some the ‘Stay Home’ notice comes as a reprieve providing a much needed breathing space. Some have taken to reading books they have not for a while now. Some have taken refuge in creative pursuits like painting. Some of my friends have surprisingly taken a fascination to cooking and baking. Social Media and WhatsApp chat groups are bursting with pictures of freshly prepared food and cakes proudly presented. For many with full time jobs these pursuits were an ill afforded luxury not so long ago. 

For some others, time just stopped. Used to the constant relentless noise of the world, the silence and stillness that ‘Stay Home’ brought with it was deafening. All over, people however are finding resourceful ways to continue connecting with their friends. Some are meeting online for a bit of merry making on the Houseparty App to get wasted as they would on a regular Friday night. The only difference now is that they have the rest of the week as well to keep their spirits high but hopefully not dry. For some of us Singaporeans to date it’s still an inconvenience. It’s a disruption to a lifestyle that we have come to take for granted, while some others are pressing the panic button because of the impending economic cost to their livelihoods. 

Yet this global catastrophe of such unprecedented scale must be happening for a reason. The catastrophe we are facing today is a harsh reminder of how interdependent and deeply connected the world has become. There is simply no going back, we need to move forward as ONE and collectively seek solutions to make the world a better place for all. This ‘Stay Home’ time, I am convinced is a gift. It is a time for us to contemplate, take stock and find ways to mend our ways. I also hope you see the social distancing as a radical act of love, kindness and care not just to yourself but for each other.

Moving Heartwards instead of Outwards

This mandatory ‘Stay Home’ notice I am hoping would lead us heartwards into ourselves. It is an opportunity to take a break from having to constantly respond to the world outside of us. By all means, engage in all the activities you have found joy in from cooking to partying online. But let’s make use of this precious time to re-calibrate and be open to experiencing stillness and silence. Let’s use these moments to look into ourselves and discover that there is a heart of kindness and compassion waiting to be lit within every one of us. In our busyness, we may have forgotten who we truly are.

We are ONE… WE ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER  

Before we start making our journey heartwards, let’s first begin by acknowledging that we are ONE. We are not alone in this fight. We have a common enemy that knows no boundaries. The corona virus has proven to be a great leveler. Almost everyone today, in one way or other, has had to make a small sacrifice by staying home. Compared to our health care workers who are risking their lives to contain the virus and keeping the victims of Covid 19 alive this is but a small loss…staying home. Our sacrifice will help flatten the infection and death rates and prevent medical resources and health care workers from getting inundated and overwhelmed. We are not alone. This is a global crisis affecting everyone, no matter who you are, where you come from or whatever your faith…Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, agnostic. No continent is being spared. Every single one of us is vulnerable: make no bones about it. Moving heartwards let’s acknowledge: WE ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER.  

But for many of us crammed in small apartments this “lockdown” may be a time bomb waiting to erupt in our faces. We who have found reprieve not in the comfort of our homes but in work spaces, void decks, bars, pubs, cafes or parks, the dynamics at home can be a source of stress for many different reasons. We would have preferred not to rock the boat and go home just to sleep, minimizing contact with family members who have proven to be a challenge in our lives. But with ‘Stay Home’ it is not an option. We got to stay home. It is not surprising then that the number of cases of abuse and divorce rates have gone up in tandem in many parts of the world that experienced lockdowns much earlier. The idea of staying safe at home is indeed a luxury not many people experience. I think in cases that are dire professional help must be sought.

But in so called “normal” family circumstances how do we pre-empt tempers from flaring and remaining calm so that we may find our inner peace. 

Shalini Damodaran
Shalini Damodaran is passionate about writing and coaching others to write. She was a teacher educator, specialised in the teaching of writing at the English Language Institute of Singapore.
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Shalini Damodaran
Shalini Damodaran is passionate about writing and coaching others to write. She was a teacher educator, specialised in the teaching of writing at the English Language Institute of Singapore.
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