Zen In The Apocalypse

It’s been a long couple of months, with the majority of the world doing their very best at staying isolated and social-distancing, and the small percentage of mouth-breathing idiots who are still letting their children play on public play structures and throwing parties and gatherings (I’m looking at you, Karen!). For the most part, the world has been doing what they have to.

Here in Canada, penalties and fines have been issued against quarantine violators in some of the more serious circumstances, and Provincial borders remain closed at most locations. Slowly but surely, governments are beginning to reopen certain semi-essential services, such as dentists, eye doctors and such, mostly on a Provincial basis. Back in New Brunswick, my family reports restaurants reopening with limited seating and families being permitted to travel to each other’s homes. No such leniency has taken place here in Saskatchewan.

But despite the progress that’s been made, it may still be a while before we can all romp in the outdoors and mingle with members of public like we used to. In fact, many believe that this may be the beginning of a new phase of society that could become permanent, with video meetings and working from home becoming the norm.

Despite the closing of businesses, suspension of many jobs and the financial strain that many are feeling as a result of the current pandemic, the aspect that people seem to be having the greatest difficulty adapting to, is self-isolation. Today’s society in general doesn’t do well with being told they HAVE to do something (a fact I’ve learned all too well over the past ten years), which is why we continue to have people who smoke in public places, litter and use their cell phones while driving. But I digress…

The point is, faced with the difficulty of being cooped up inside their homes on a near-constant basis with spouses and children has begun to take a toll on many, with things like cabin fever and quarantine fatigue becoming very real concerns. Emotions and frustrations are rising and the especially important detail of trying to keep children occupied and entertained when they don’t have school and can’t go play at the park can be a real challenge. And trying to stay Zen throughout it all can feel like scaling a mountain with a shard of glass in your boot…

First of all, people need to understand the difference between “quarantine” and “isolation.” I’ve been hearing folks use them interchangeably, but they both have distinctively different meanings. A “quarantine” is defined as a strict isolation imposed t prevent the spread of a disease. This usually involves isolating people who are known, believed or suspected to have, carry or could spread the disease, whether symptomatic or not.

“Isolation”, whether self-imposed or not, is a bit simpler in terms that it’s the separation of a person from others. That’s it. You don’t have the disease (that you know of) but you’re keeping yourself indoors to prevent its spread. Which is great, but it doesn’t mean you can’t step outdoors and it can have detrimental effects on your health if you don’t take steps for your own mental well-being.

The internet has done what it usually does, when something serious of this nature arises and expressed its displeasure with the propagation of memes, jokes and overall lack of seriousness for the whole thing. But the reality is that some families are ACTUALLY having difficulties being isolated together for long periods of time when the norm has been to have their own separate periods away form one another.

But what’s important to remember is that despite terms such as “quarantine” being thrown around, if you are simply self-isolating and aren’t asymptomatic or trying to recover from a serious illness, there’s plenty you can do to help stem the tide of building pressure within your household. Go take a walk. Many people take this possibility for granted, but there’s nothing stopping you from heading out and taking a nice long walk. Fresh air, alone with your thoughts and some mild exercise, it can go a long way towards saving your sanity.

Even just spending time outside, even if you aren’t doing anything, will be very helpful. Fresh air can be an incredible asset. Meditation and Zen can be difficult in a contained environment, especially with small children involved since they don’t understand when mommy or daddy need some “quiet time.” This is one of the reasons I enjoy cycling. Besides the challenge of racking up as many kilometres in as short a time as possible, the fresh air and the time to be alone with my thoughts allows me to engage in a sort of moving meditation.

So be sure to get out there and find yourself something that works for you. Even if you don’t practice Zen, everyone inevitably NEEDS Zen. Finding some balance and peace during uncertain times is important to everybody, and remember that no matter what responsibilities your shoulders may bear, everybody needs/deserves some time to themselves. Even during a pandemic. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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