Our lives came to an abrupt halt because of the pandemic and the lockdown. You could say that it unplugged us, made life less intense, at least in terms of activities. Ordinary pressures be they in working or undertaking long commutes, for many people suddenly were no more.
The abrupt interruption of daily life showed us how conditioned we are to be busy. How used we are to travel here and there – spending time with friends, parents, grandchildren – or taking another short trip just for the heck of it. Boredom, generally, was to be avoided at all cost, and here it was, at our doorstep, when not much else was.
Until we got busy placing and receiving online orders. It soon became evident how much we do all the time. As if constantly looking for the next fix, an eye to the future, planning this and that is like a drug. It turns us into unconscious zombies unable to experience the joy of simply being.
We are conditioned to equate the busy life with life. Like blind sheep we were busy being busy, until it all stopped.
Then what? Without the pressure of busyness, is there still life?
I suspect that instead of taking the opportunity to stop and dive into stillness, we have remained rooted in behaviour patterns and habits. Rather than exploring new ways of being we transferred the old ways of doing and pasted them onto the new situation. We still managed to stay busy.
Whether it meant watching Netflix all day, reading thrillers nonstop, or taking on learning a new language – by setting up goals and remaining occupied, essentially nothing changed in terms of consciousness. Mind was busy, business as usual.
The actions may have been different, but the awareness remained as focused on activity as ever.
I bet many made themselves even busier during the pandemic than before, as if busyness is what animates us rather than life itself.
When Life Animates, not Busyness
So, what opportunity opens up when life loses busyness and intensity of activities? What can I do with the possible extra time made available?
I would say that meditation can be a game changer. It can give us a glimpse of the space within and the space to cultivate the silence within. Meditation can break old patterns of outward busyness and allow us to start a relationship with ourselves.
Have you thought about that? How even the relationship with myself can be messy, “complicated”. But what treasure can be found if I at least begin it…
Many people use meditation, some without necessarily sitting down. Artists such as musicians and painters leverage it to access “another reality”, something greater than themselves, but we can all practice it.
Regular meditation increases our capacity for existing in a higher dimension. But how does it work for “normal people”? Is it not a scary space to be in?
When everything is Transforming
The pandemic, the red stoplight, changed my life. Luckily, I was accustomed to change. Having transformed from a senior executive at the top of my industry, via a lost seeker on the spiritual path, into a person starting to find her footing as a modern spiritual hippy gathering the troops of a new global movement, I surely knew change. Change made sense, and so the pandemic had to make sense too.
Admittedly I was still keeping myself busy as everything ground to a halt. But in the “nothing to do”, though, I felt that everything I had learnt on my search for meaning and freedom was allowed to rise up and enter into my awareness.
One “thing” that naturally emerged (I jokingly call it a coping mechanism) was the Coffee Mornings. Gathering my network via Zoom, we were all able to reflect on the situation and on ourselves and share with each other. But I also engaged in much smaller sessions. This article was inspired by one such online get-together with Uma Prajapati of the conscious fashion brand Upasana based in the spiritual community of Auroville, in the south of India (my soul home!). An entrepreneur, a woman, a wife, an activist and a spiritual seeker, Uma and I connect on many points.
Who am I? I am transforming, perhaps more deeply and more often than I am aware of.
I am many different things to many different people. To the business community I am a successful businesswoman. To the spiritual community I am, by now, a drummer in the forest. To my “regular friends” I am a wife leading an independent life as much as I am one half of a couple.
If I look at what runs across all of those different versions of Claudia, I see a doer. I am someone who does what she sets out to do and who walks her talk.
So, what is my point in all this? I guess what I am driving at is that there must be a sum total of what makes me me.
I Continue Transforming
As I keep changing, based on where I am (at home, at work, or at some friends’ place), naturally the question arises, “Who am I”? Who am I when “I” keeps changing?
To take it down a notch from being too profound or heavy, let me paint a picture:
I am sitting in my garden with a cup of coffee in my hand. As I look metaphorically into the mirror, who am I?
The lockdown was a gift. It offered me the time and space for much inner work. Some days were spent only pursuing silence within. And the depth that I trawled was but a vast nothing. No name, only emptiness and peace.
Continuous practice made all the stories that I had been so attached to, that I had attached to my name, evaporate. And the space continued to deepen and expand as the lockdown continued. Until one day, in that space, I detected a newness of me. I know it may sound strange, but this is the only way I can describe what was emerging.
By now accustomed to this inner space, I was able to witness as new qualities appeared in my consciousness. As I watched, new guidance was coming through. Yes, old patterns wanted to come in and stop the new, but the old had lost its upper hand.
What was the old doing? It was questioning my desire to share what I had learned. I was suspicious of my motives to do so. But the new me allowed those questions to float in the open field of vastness.
I want to be free and yet I want to share knowledge. Isn’t that a paradox? Or is it perhaps not? The journey within continued…
As, through my daily practice, I ventured ever deeper within the vastness, something else was happening. Throughout the day an awareness of new guidance would strike like a thunderstorm.
With curiosity and an open heart, I watched, ever allowing myself to rest in contemplation without jumping to judgment. Actual words entered into the vastness, words which would, in the past, have been immediately rejected. Instead I held space for the words, lovingly. I felt I had a say in who I was becoming. And I checked in with my heart, my feeling a bit like one would undertake quality control in business.
Could it be that I could be free and share my knowledge? Yes.
With nothing to do – no thinking about what food to buy (we had a weekly delivery; the choice was limited) or where next to go (we couldn’t go anywhere) – my main focus was on remaining embedded in the vastness.
I walked in that vastness during my daily pandemic walks in nature. At times I brought my drum along with me. In any case, I never walked alone, as there were always questions, such as:
What is my purpose in all of this that is happening? Why did it take me so long to find this vastness within? Why did I have so many difficult moments lately? Why did I have to suffer to the point of falling apart completely?
I knew that something old, no longer useful, had left me when I no longer fell into a black hole of self-pity and emotional pain.
And one morning I woke up loving myself, simply. Wisdom had appeared and I owned it, felt done with judgement and creating my own inner drama.
Sure, I had to say it aloud to believe it. And I practiced saying it in front of a mirror, aware that an outsider looking in would judge me as being pompous. But I still did it for my own sake. I did it to set myself free, to feel alive also without all that busyness.
The Knowledge that grants Freedom
What is it that we want to free ourselves from?
This was another question I took with me on a walk in the vastness.
And I returned knowing that I wanted to embody my own wisdom. In what I can only describe as a profound moment, I knew that my life was ready to explode in all directions and in no direction at the same time.
As a consequence, I walked to the shops wearing an oversized pink summer hat and huge golden earrings. This too, is me, I was telling the world; a sign of inner freedom.
Expecting nothing but non-judgment from others, I walked in my space of vastness in the physical reality too.
More wisdom flowed into the vastness; new doors opened for me. I couldn’t believe it; and yet I could. I knew that walking the vastness would be like training for a marathon. Lots of preparation and focus had taken me this far, now stamina and a never-wavering belief in myself were still needed.
Do I have these qualities? Yes!
I wish freedom upon you, and I wish that you will find those specific qualities within you that can act as stepping-stones towards unimaginable greatness. Why not?
I am not I. I am this one, beside me walking whom I do not see, whom at times I manage to vist and whom at other times I forget the one who remains silent while I talk, the one who forgives, sweetly, when I hate, the one who takes a walk when I remain indoors, the one who will remain standing when I die. -Juan Ramón Jiménez
More about Claudia Roth
Claudia Roth is the founder of Soul Luxury specialising in the area of personal growth & transformation and healing hospitality. She draws her experience as a global executive in luxury hospitality combined with a lifelong interest in how our energy field influenced by our thoughts, beliefs and emotions influence our lives. She works with individuals, facilitates retreats and offers personal change programmes. Claudia runs a global community which – at its heart – holds conversations exploring a future based on a new and deeper understanding.