Written by Founder and CEO, Sara Potler LaHayne
In my past life – the one before being a mother of two – I spent a lot of time focusing on my personal wellbeing. Meditation became a big part of my life – helping me clear my mind and cut through unnecessary noise and stress while inspiring creativity. Meditation empowered me to be a better version of myself for everyone else around me. I even went so far as spending days and weeks in silent retreats where I experienced incredible transformations to my way of thinking and being.
Then I became a mom. As a mom, I learned quickly that my time is no longer my own. My entire world started to revolve around somebody else’s needs. Understanding that I still needed to focus on my own wellbeing in order to “show-up” for my daughters, I was forced to learn how to micro meditate- that is to take advantage of the micro moments that life presents to meditate rather than an intentional two weeks of silence. The days of prolonged silent retreats are over (for now)!
Each time I meditate, no matter for how long, I find the dedicated, continuous space allows me to really drop into myself and separate the noise that fills up every nook and cranny. I find clarity and new ideas. I find not just what I need to do to drive my organization and product forward, but also what I need to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
In today’s connected world, it can be easy to get sucked into staying up to date with every detail about what’s going on, rather than force ourselves to sit in the unknown and move through the discomfort. To relinquish control and drop into presence, virtually or housebound, with the ones we love the most — starting with ourselves — is an especially radical act in a time of extreme uncertainty and stress.
The current pandemic has forced our world into isolation. However, it is also a binding force of a global shared experience. Regardless of your place, power, or status, you have likely been impacted in some way. Now more than ever we understand what it means to be scared, to be kept in hiding, or to flee our homes with minimal notice. Could this collective experience help us understand what fear, loss, confusion and doubt are like at the global level? COVID-19 has us connecting and bonding, keeping us all intertwined, despite our physical distance behind a common goal.
When touch and physical affection are not available, we are forced to learn to express love in new ways. We are learning to care for each other and come together for our greater humanity and our most vulnerable populations. We are learning to truly spend uninterrupted time with ourselves and those who are closest to us while not being distracted by superfluous social gatherings, work travel, or networking events, and instead focus on us; on the here and now.
Finding these micro moments of meditation will look different for everyone, but I believe they are a really important tool in helping us all get through these challenging times. Just like when I became a mother for the first time, I’ve found the need to really adjust my routines, priorities, and micro moments. It’s been important for me to reframe this challenge and tap into my creativity to help improve my social and emotional wellbeing and that of my family. In many ways being forced to stay home, to hunker down, is a gift of time and space. It’s a gift to be able to lean into the creativity that this challenge brings. Here are a few of the creative strategies I’ve found helpful.
Journaling and Storytelling
I’m a huge believer in The Artist’s Way morning pages, and now more than ever I’ve felt refuge in those nonjudgmental pages, holding space for all of my feelings and unanswered questions.
At home, my husband and I are dramatically improving our storytelling skills to our children. Each adventure is sillier than the next, with the goal of making our girls laugh.
One of the most effective ways of tapping into creativity in any occasion is solving a problem that needs fixing. Clearly, we have lots of problems that need solving, and I’ve had the fortune of watching my Move This World team rise to the occasion.
The ingenuity I’ve seen from the Move This World team over the last six weeks is unprecedented. We are experiencing a global trauma. We are being forced to go inward, re-evaluate the way we do things, consider new perspectives, and operate in new ways. We’re also afforded the opportunity to refocus on our purpose- why we do what we do.
Music and Dance
Music and dance hold a special place in my heart, and the dances and home concerts happening within families across the country have brought a smile to my face. People are facing their own mortality, and that of their loved ones, by channeling their inner creativity and letting down their guard like never before. It is a great time to learn a new dance move or pick up that instrument you’ve always wanted to learn. When we tap into our own creativity, we share our vulnerability through the process.
Explore an Interest
Chances are, you’ve had something in the back of your mind that you’ve always wanted to spend more time doing. Maybe there’s a book you’ve been meaning to read — or to write. You might have a puzzle you never started or a painting you didn’t finish. My husband and I did tie-dye with our daughters. A group of us hosted a Zoom talent show. There are all kinds of ways to get in touch with ourselves, and each other, even while being apart.
Supporting a Neighbor or a Cause
With so many people unemployed and struggling, there are a lot of ways to help. Although none of us can cure the coronavirus by ourselves, we can move in global solidarity towards a solution.
Remember: you are contributing to the cause even if you are simply staying at home. For those of us who are fortunate with our health, finances or resources, you can improve your own wellbeing by supporting people around you. There are many nonprofits who need support and millions of seniors who need groceries. Here in New York City there are even opportunities for performance every night to show our appreciation for front line essential workers. Every act of kindness helps.
In the end, we will get through this. We are resilient and, especially when we come together around a common goal, we can do great things. These times are difficult, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use it as an opportunity to reframe our appreciation of micro moments, go inward for inspiration and creativity, and rally around our community in hopes that we come out on the other end with a greater appreciation for what we have.
Perhaps we can try to rethink this moment in time as a true exercise in empathy and in love, and go on our own version of a silent retreat. Let’s look inside and determine what’s really essential for ourselves, and find out how much space non essential habits or routines took up in our lives. What can we do with that time now? What else do we now have space for that fills us up with love and joy?
If we can answer those questions for ourselves, perhaps we can build empathetic, creative, and caring communities that build systems of support to guide us through good times and bad.
In solidarity & love,
Sara Potler LaHayne