By Gemma Bowden Director at The Owl and The Coconut

Remember when our lives were flipped upside down? When we were encouraged to be out and about, buying this and that, going here and there, defining our lives by the things we do and the places we go to! When out of nowhere came a life-threatening virus, stretching across the globe bringing fear and uncertainty to us all. Forcing us to stay at home. To pause. To stop.

Oh wait, we are still in the midst of this global pandemic that has changed all of our lives quite possibly forever! How are you coping with this? Have you noticed any instinctive fight, flight or freeze responses?

Why have we paused?

At The Owl and The Coconut we froze, well we had to, suddenly we could no longer run our mindful art sessions; face-to-face groups of lovely people, like we love to do! All the amazingness of The Nest just vanished! No more yoga, gong baths or meditation classes together, in an instant it was gone.

During this lockdown I have found it’s only when I have truly stopped I have been gifted the space to really notice. Notice my habitual thought processes, addicted to planning and the love of ‘doing’. Noticing the pull towards finding loads of new lockdown hobbies. Noticing how difficult it is to actually, truly Stop.

I saw an inspiring post from Guy, the director of Riverford (organic farm and food delivery) about the need to simplify. It really hit home. It’s easy for any organisation, any person, to get pulled in all directions, to try to please all of the people all of the time, at the risk of spreading ourselves too thinly… Mission drift. In hindsight I can see I was falling into this trap myself. Overstretched and overloaded. Excited and running in too many different directions. Always trying to find balance, but never quite getting the sense I was hoping for. Due to juggling too many things. This pause was much needed. Time and space to practice the selfcare mission that I preach to a greater personal depth, to Stop and to Notice.

My husband has just turned to me and said, “What are you doing?” “I’m writing a blog post about pausing,” I said. “Writing about pausing is not pausing.” he said.

Ha! I know. I can see the irony! I’m in the trap of ‘doing’ whilst writing about the trap of ‘doing’! And with the extended spaces between time that this lockdown has illuminated for me, I can see this trap everywhere. I love work! I get pulled into ‘doing’ it for hours. In a cycle of boom and bust. Excitement and exhaustion.

This lockdown time at first was a welcomed break. I needed to pause. To rest. To reset. I’m lucky to have remained healthy and on the whole, happy, during this time. Now I feel like the bud of a flower beginning to get ready to reopen, but aware of opening to a changed world and changed self.

My mission is to create opportunities for people to access the calm expansive space they have within themselves. To teach people simple, creative, mindful tools to Stop. Notice. Create. So they can access all they need to make positive changes in the world. A ripple effect. The way I see it, the more mindful, calm, creative, healthy, happy people we have in the world, the better the world will be for all. And that’s my dream. And my tiny part in this massive dream.

Being isolated during lockdown I really had time to reflect on how the gathering together of people is at the heart of all we do at The Owl and The Coconut. I heard Bob Roth, the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, on Russell Brand’s Podcast, Under The Skin, saying that the connections for increasing the levels of health and wellbeing in each other magnifies when we join together. How amazing is that?! By just being together in meditation we improve our well-being! And there’s evidence that these positive vibrations ripple out into our community around us!

So how do we do this during these uncertain times of social distancing? Zoom is now a word people are as familiar with as bread! And live video streams on Facebook and Instagram are popping up everywhere. I’ve particularly been enjoying Deva Premal and Miten daily chanting live streams via Instagram. And even though I’m sat wearing earpods chanting on my own, I do not feel alone. I have felt a strong connection with the hundreds, thousands of people, across the world, people I have never met, people who are also viewing online, live, in the moment, spiritually together, but physically apart.

Is this the new normal? Connecting together online? And if so, is that ok? Can we develop a great sense of connection together, whilst physically being alone? Is this the best way to “Stay Safe” and “Stay Alert” at this time? For now? It feels like a whole new world to navigate.

What’s next after being paused?

At The Owl and The Coconut we are unsure when we will be able to welcome people back to our mindful art sessions at The Nest in the near future. We’ve thought long and hard about how we can adapt our sessions and work online, to make it as meaningful as possible, creating real opportunities for people to enhance their levels of health and happiness, together, whilst physically apart.

Our mission has not changed. The changes are that we have simplified; returning to our core of Mindful Art. Simple guided meditations with playful messing about with art to relax, unwind and make space for selfcare. And, for now, we are moving from face to face to online courses and classes. The future is uncertain, but it always was. All we have is the ‘now’, and that is all that we need. Eckhart Tolle has been teaching us this for years!

Well, that’s my experience of being paused; how has lockdown been for you? Have you tried any self-care classes or courses online? I’d love to hear about how you’ve been getting on, if you have a minute or two to tell us through this short questionnaire, it will really help us at The Owl and The Coconut as we plan our gradual un-pause and future online health and happiness classes and courses. To be first to hear about them click here and join our mailing list.

Fancy trying some self-care at home? Read my blog post about what I’ve been up to to make sure I continue to promote good health and wellbeing!

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