Maybe you met a dear colleague for lunch for the first time in over a year. Maybe you saw a relative without needing to wear a mask. Maybe you actually hugged someone without a twinge of fear!
Slowly, restrictions are being lifted.
But is life returning to “normal”? Will it ever return to normal?
Yes, people are slowly going back to their offices. There’s a steady increase in cars on the road. And in-person meetings with clients will soon be happening more frequently.
Even so, I hear this question a lot, “When will life return to the way it was?” And I think of this wonderful little book by Mary Engelbreit called Don’t Look Back. The end of the book says, “Don’t look back—you’re not going that way.”
The only way to get through the grief process is to go through the grief process. While teaching during the pandemic, I keep highlighting an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review by Scott Berinato entitled, “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief,” which discusses why it’s important to acknowledge your grief, how to manage it, and how to find meaning in it.
As a planet, we are still going through the grief process a year later, and it is going to continue for quite a while. I realized this the other day when my allergies flared up and I ran to the store to pick up tissues. Standing alone in the middle of the afternoon in a quiet section of the store suddenly, I wanted to cry. Everywhere I looked, the shelves were fully stocked. The tissues (the exact brand I wanted!) were there waiting for me. There was an abundance of paper products, dish soap, Lysol wipes. Everything was as it should be.
A year ago, I stood in this very same aisle at this very same store, and the shelves were all empty. Never in my life had I experienced this.
Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose to how we feel in any given moment. It changes. And often our emotions change quickly, like a sudden breeze in the air.
Standing in that grocery store aisle, I wanted to cry because I remembered how scared I had been last year not knowing what was coming. I felt sadness.
Will I run into a store one day in the future to pick something up and never even think about the COVID-19 pandemic? Probably.
When you find yourself remembering how you felt during the year the world shut down, it is helpful to allow yourself to really feel the emotions you are experiencing. Mindfulness is a practice of nonjudgment, so no need to beat yourself up if you’re feeling sad or angry or fearful. The next moment you might notice gratitude, joy or exhaustion. Mindfulness is a practice of compassion, and that compassion extends to ourselves.
We will move through this next phase by gently remembering that our future unfolds one moment at a time. Knowing that when we do look back, we are not going that way.
We are just noticing how far we have come on our life’s journey to today.
Above Photo credit: Harriet Stein
Mindfulness is now being incorporated by organizations to lower healthcare costs, support employees in staying focused which improves their performance, and reduce levels of stress.
Harriet Stein of Big Toe in the Water brings Mindfulness Programs to organizations of all sizes to transform employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction.