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…has happened since I last wrote in mid-June. The sameness of life (which inspired a friend to call each day of the week ‘blursday’) under the heavy blanket of a global pandemic, coupled by the multitude of emotions (same friend calls this ‘corona-coaster’) sets up a strange paradox in daily life for me. I’ve simply not wanted to write since mid-June. Neither my blog, nor my book. A big breakthrough has been giving myself the permission to not drive on through the apathy and lethargy: to rest under the heavy blanket and ‘give in’. Thank goodness I did, as I now stand on the threshold looking ahead to the autumn / winter feeling resourced.

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warrior not worrierI’ve shared on this blog a number of times my journey with anxiety: once out of my awareness (covered up with strategies and false appearance of strength), uncovered and fought against (like a foe), and now something of a companion (from whom I get to learn and grow). Many of us will have experienced emotions through this pandemic lockdown - as well as witnessing the tragic and unjust events in America. And maybe also will have tasted a sense that even the most reliable and trustworthy companions can become too much "company": the claustrophobia of the situation “cooks and stews” process. I continue to feel drained, and I know its related to the energy of my process.

On Monday morning, having completed my Ngondro practices and several rounds of prostrations, I sat in meditation on my cushion. Looking straight out, I allowed myself to rest: no particular focus, just an open awareness that allows anything to play out and to be recognised. In that stillness, I felt the movement and energy, the intensity of sensations racing around my body. Athletes will experience a similar feeling after a hard training session - how the muscles seem to “pulse and ping” even at rest. It was a bit like that, but there was also a shaking kinda tremor. My friend anxiety, but as experienced in the body without any particular object to be anxious about or fearful of. This is what I know to be ‘terror’; and I must confess this is an experience difficult to find companionship with.

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Zoom roomWeek 13 of my personal lockdown, and I seem to be moving through a new phase in this consistently morphing experience of COVID-19. Or probably more accurately, COVID-19 is an amplifier to processes going on below the radar of my normal experiencing of being a human being. Constantly in movement. Thoughts, feelings, moods, behaviours - all in flux. I think I find myself settling, and then “boom”. For the past week I have found myself so very very tired. Not just tired, drained. I’ve tried to unpick it, but such is the pervasiveness of it, the task of unpicking has even been too draining.

As many counsellors and psychotherapists are becoming aware of, online working is incredibly tiring. And of course, its not just the online working but the phenomena of a global pandemic (not to mention the heartbreaking situation in the US) that leaves us with literally no-where to turn. “We” are experiencing much of the same of what our clients bring to the therapy room (or Zoom screen). I’ve found both comfort and claustrophobia in this like-experience. Its harder now than ever for me to leave my client work behind me; previously there was a sense of a ‘normal life’ awaiting me after I finished work for the day; but now, I click the red “leave meeting” button and I don’t leave the experience - its just a door to another version of it. At the same time, my clients stories reflect something of my own - and that brings a sense of belonging, something quite profound being shared.

When I moved online 13 weeks ago, out of naivety I started conducting therapy sessions from here in my study - my comfortable desk, office chair and beautiful iMac with its “cinema” screen. It has taken time to realise that this has not been serving me on many different levels. Firstly, this study is akin to a retreat “cave” for me - I do my practice here, I love to read and journal here, it is also where I do my writing - blogging, book writing. It is Helen’s space for “me time”. Furthermore, since starting my Vajrayana practices, I recognise how much more sensitive I am to energy: and working with clients from this room is being felt. The room is no longer mine, it had become shared. And this has affected my energy balance…and no doubt, contributed to feeling drained.