Free. Your. Mind.
As Morpheus repeats these words to Neo, he knows all too well that the mind can be trapped inside a prison, often of its own making. In these times of social isolation it's important to remember that it's an isolation of the body, not of the mind.
The first few days will be difficult I know, as the usual pattern of life and behaviour is disrupted, but it will soon be taken over by new and exciting ways of living and thinking, creating innovative ways of communicating, teaching, learning and existing. We are resilient and adaptable creatures! The vast majority of the world is under the influence of a giant 'pause' button as people wait until the current virus has been dealt with. It is unprecedented in our lifetime and, if you let it, can be an beneficial time to take stock of where you are, where you want to be and what is actually important to you.
It can also be an anxious time for many and the harder you find change and uncertainty, the harder you may be finding it. There are things, however, that can help bring order and peace and even calmness into your lives.
So, what can we do in both situations. Well, firstly you can start to understand the Stoic philosophy of only concerning yourself with what is in your control and letting go of what is not. I know that is easy to say and difficult to do sometimes but believe me, it will take a whole heap of weight off your mind as the things you have no influence over will continue whether you worry about them or not. Instead, place some thoughts on what you can control, what is in your sphere of influence and you will be surprised at how much this can not only make you feel better but also begin to show you what is important to you.
As communities, both online and off, come together to help each other during these times, there has been a wealth of free material, exercises, workouts, therapy, meditations and relaxation sessions happening. We are giving free relaxation session on our Facebook page for example. Take advantage of these to continue things you have already started and do, and also to try something new and different. There may be something that you always fancied trying but never had the time for, well, now you do. Try things, experiment and find out what you like. It may be something you continue with after the situation has changed, in which case, it has been time well spent.
It would also be worth finding time for some self-reflection on what this crisis has thrown up as important (or not so important) to you. It is often difficult to do this with the pressures of the day to day being every present as the world continued to turn, but now, we have an opportunity to take a breath and take stock. Things that come up may be to do with social media, television, friends, work, family and relationships (with drink, food etc as well as with people) and these considerations may have a real impact on what happens when things go back to some normality. Don't be afraid of facing them and making the necessary changes you think you should; it will be all too easy to brush them back under the carpet as the world starts to reboot. Use trusted friends, mentors or even therapists to discuss issues that may have been highlighted.
What I am sure these times will show though is the importance of the people close to you. Ensure that you are looked after and that you are looking after those you can and we will emerge from the other side slightly changed and dare I say, improved by the experience.