Being Close While Social Distancing 

Written by Chris DiMeglio

During the Coronavirus crisis, most of us are spending a lot more time inside and seeing far fewer people than we normally do. We might feel cooped up at home. We might feel lonely. We might be having trouble connecting with people in our lives. In this strange time of social distancing, how can we practice closeness?

Get to know yourself

With more time inside, more unstructured time, it might be a great moment to explore growing closer to yourself. Take more time to meditate to get to know and befriend your mind. You can also journal and reflect on what’s important. You might even turn your phone off for a day and let this be a time to enjoy simplicity, to connect more with silence and serenity. I truly love the people in my life, but I have so many treasured memories of connecting with myself in such ways on meditation retreat or during intentional time by myself.

Acknowledge the shared struggle

Knowing that there’s so much pain in the world right now, we can feel close to others by remembering that this pandemic is truly a shared struggle—something the whole world is going through together. We can reflect on this with compassion and a sense of connection, wishing peace and health for ourselves, our loved ones, and everyone everywhere. Remember, we’re taking drastic measures to stay relatively isolated for our health, but more broadly for public health. So staying home is an act of compassion with an eye on the greater good.

Call an old friend

We can feel close by calling an old friend. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve gotten to connect with in recent weeks. Try group video calls with a few people if you haven’t done so yet. You can also take advantage of the many online classes and meetings of all kinds that are popping up. Find a yoga class, an exercise session, or learn a new hobby in a group setting. If you need a break from technology, imagine a friend or family member is with you and write them an old-fashioned letter.

Go easy on each other

Strange new circumstances like the ones we find ourselves in can also exacerbate conflicts or stresses in relationship. It’s helpful for me to remember that this is such an unprecedented time—something none of us has experienced before. It’s also a time with so much anxiety and uncertainty. So, of course, new and challenging feelings and conflicts will arise.

Deepen your relationships

Perhaps we can use this unique moment to build a new kind of closeness with those in our lives. Maybe we can be a little more open to sharing our fears about the world, our health, our jobs, and so on. We can tell people what we appreciate about them. We can dialogue about what’s really meaningful to us. For me, learning more about a person’s inner life—their honest struggles and their deep joys—often brings about a closeness, even a sense of tenderness towards them.

Reconcile with loved ones

Our situation right now can also be an opportunity for reconciliation. With so many reminders of how fragile life can be, it might be a good time to make amends with someone. For me, calling someone to rectify even a small mistake can bring me closer to them and help release a weight in myself. I got to do so with my Mom just last weekend.

Smile from a distance

When you go out for groceries and supplies, you might notice yourself looking at other people and thinking, “please stay away and don’t get me sick.” I’ve certainly noticed that kind of thought. Instead of pushing people away in our minds, maybe we can remember that everyone has worries, everyone can get sick, and everyone is here for a short time. I keep a physical distance from people when I go out but have been trying to smile or say hello more often. Sometimes I’ll silently wish them well: “May you be healthy and peaceful.”

To everyone reading this, you’re probably physically distant from me, but I know we’re sharing such a unique moment in this world, so in some ways we are very close to one another. May you be healthy and peaceful.

 

 

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Mental Health & Wellbeing
Written by Chris DiMeglio
Journey Meditation Teacher

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