This afternoon my husband Bill and I took a walk on the boardwalk along the Grand River here in our little Ontario village of Elora. Fresh air was pleasant, bringing mental clarity, invigorating energy and a simple exercise for the seniors we are. The river was moving swiftly and spring was in the air.
However, it was not the walk we expected to be having on this Tuesday afternoon in the middle of March. Had it not been for the Coronavirus pandemic, we would be strolling along the beach boardwalk in one of the Atlantic Ocean resorts in hot sunny Florida.
A disappointing loss it was, to cancel our month of vacation down South, a year in the planning. Yet with health and safety at stake, there really wasn’t a choice. Risk or Reward?
We have all been catapulted into this recent health crisis in short order and have been left with a vulnerability on many levels! What do we do with the uncertainty, the fear, anxiety, the self -isolation, the changes and the losses?
I don’t want to minimize any of these feelings but some very simple and basic practices, perhaps as close as our fingertips, may lift our moods and energize our bodies.
Angeles Arrien, a beloved mentor and spiritual guide of mine, was a cross-cultural anthropologist, and an educator, committed to integrating East-West and Indigenous teachings, worldwide. Her passion for researching what all cultures have in common for health and wellbeing resulted in the Nine Universal Healing Principles that all cultures share.
Engaging in these self-care practices cannot only bring health and healing to ourselves in this time of a crisis but to all others and the planet itself.
On our walk this afternoon, we practiced several of these healing techniques. The first principle is Movement, in any form whether it be walking, dancing, yoga or any other form of exercise. Bill and I have made walking part of our daily routine on this holiday at home. It’s not the Florida sunshine we’re experiencing but we are grateful for spring.
Community or being in a relationship with others is another one of the Nine Universal Healing Principles. Using our walk as an example, the two of us have shared many conversations, some about our disappointments, our fears of the virus, possibly being affected ourselves and the uncertainty of how long this pandemic could last. Inevitably, our conversations have ended on a positive note because we gave voice to our difficult feelings. After giving them some air time, we could then focus on our gratitude for what we had as a couple, for our families and friends and remembering how many storms we had weathered.in the past. When it was all said and done, we firmly believe, this too shall pass.
What was also so unique in this time of social distancing, was that we met others on our walks, keeping two arm lengths apart, yet able to greet one another with a smile, a wave, or a word or two. The feeling of relationship was there; we were all in this together.
Touch, hugs, a wave, a smile or even a wink when appropriate, is yet another Healing Principle that all cultures practice for health and wellbeing. Since we can’t touch or hug, respecting the guidelines of keeping six feet apart, we had to resort to what we could practice. Amazing what being present to one another can do!
The practice of walking outdoors that Bill and I committed to daily was so important for our mental health. Being in the fresh air, with the wind on our faces, the warm sunshine on our bodies, gave us a new perspective! Not surprising that time in nature is yet another Healing Principle.
I know we all have experienced the healing power of nature, in one form or another. As Aurora Alumni, you have experienced nature at its finest, the availability of the lake right at the Centre’s doorstep. How have you taken the Aurora nature experiences back home with you?
The beauty of these practices is that we can take them with us wherever we go, wherever we are. We encourage you to experiment and take note if you observe any shifts in your moods or your energy levels while putting them into practice. Notice if the changes and losses of this pandemic that affect all of us, vary after engaging in one or more of these practices.
Bill and I will check with you once again in the May edition of Aurora’s newsletter. We’ll continue to share with you the remaining five Healing Principles and once again give examples of how we’ve practiced them.
In the meantime, breathe, reflect.
Be safe, be well, be at ease and be at peace.
Hildie Rempel Jacyk, BSW, MA