As we once again experience a measurable shift in the pandemic tide, we are naturally facing questions of individual comfort and safety as we meet the call to return to the folds of public life.
I think it’s safe to say that for all of us, questions about re-entry – how? when? with whom? to what degree? – are top of mind. An experience proving to be, in its own way, every bit as challenging as the early days of the pandemic.
For many weeks now, I’ve been referring to all of this as Pandemic Re-entry Response (PRR).
Though I’m being tongue-in-cheek with the acronym, this is a real phenomenon that is affecting all of us.
We’ve been living with a heaping serving of uncertainty for over a year now, with mandates, adjusting-on-the-fly and media inundation contributing to a whole host of emotions and body responses. Not to mention our social circles and live interactions have been curtailed for an incredibly long period of time.
And now the re-entry process is layering on top of that.
As you well know, I’ve been advocating that we do our best to ground (re-ground, and ground again), listen deeply and re-tool our automatic thinking during this past year.
To seize the pandemic time as an opportunity to shift ourselves on meaningful, lasting levels.
Examine our habits and dependencies.
Review our unconscious biases.
Thoughtfully consider our place in the collective.
But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t also grappled with feelings of loss, grief, anger, isolation, anxiety, fear, and doubt. Not to mention facing the monumental topics of death, inclusivity, safety, and impermanence on a regular basis.
So now we add on re-entry. Which makes for another layer of complexity and a demand for continued adaptability.
So many questions:
How do I “live into” new priorities that emerged for me in the last year?
What is the safest way to return to social and public life while navigating the very real and complex conversation about personal rights vis-à-vis the common good?
How do I work with this new layer of uncertainty when I’m already trying to work through a build-up of trauma or overwhelm from this past year?
How do I take care of myself amidst the on-going polarization that is humming in the collective field?
It’s quite the soup, isn’t it? Hence my label of PRR.
We are rewriting ourselves from the past year, on every level. And that means massive cellular turnover that needs to be acknowledged, nurtured, tended. Both physically and emotionally.
Our bodies are (again) having to adjust to moving targets and absorb a tremendous amount of input that isn’t familiar.
As you might guess, my primary encouragement is for you to keep things moving.
This last year bred inertia for many. Uncertainty can do that: initial feelings of paralysis can morph into more permanent inaction and stagnation. We can convince ourselves that, like the rabbit, if we stay really still and hold our breath, we’ll be okay.
However, that’s asking the body to take on more, not less.
So as we enter into more conversation – internal and external – about re-entry, it’s imperative that we keeping moving. Give our bodies as many pathways as possible to move this on-going unfamiliar material so that it’s not backing up into the adrenals, lungs, heart, and brain, causing imbalances that are even more difficult to manage.
Additionally, it is so important that we give lots of space to the conversation itself. Much like the conversation about mask wearing has caused strain and conflict, vaccine and re-entry considerations are doing the same.
The first, and perhaps most important, part of this dialogue is the inner one. It’s imperative that you come to know your own mind and heart as it relates to re-entry, being honest with yourself about the associated emotions, what has changed for you in the last year, and doing the work to not shove your truth under the rug to make others comfortable or “get back to normal,” because that’s what’s expected.
At the same time, there is also the part of this that requires an open mind and skillful communication. While we certainly need to know our own preferences, this is going to be a time of even more learning around compassionate self-expression and acceptance of many and varied points of view. A continuation of the essential conversations that the pandemic pressed us into over the course of the last year.
Measured is the word that comes to mind. This is a time to be measured.
Not with the intent of binding yourself or tamping down what you feel. But rather, to engage more than ever your discernment, patience and presence so that you can show up to on-going challenges with equilibrium and a willingness to continue transforming, personally and globally.
In the upcoming days and weeks, I urge you to carve out some space to carefully consider your needs related to re-entry. To be truthful with yourself about what feels right and what your body and mind need to (re)emerge in a healthy, balanced, and joyful way.