By Andrea Winn and Elisa Paiva Neta
Nowadays the commute back home is more stressful than ever. People are afraid to take the bus, to get close to another person, to help someone. We are all afraid to bring home the COVID virus. This fear has been causing us to isolate ourselves appearing as depression, anxiety and more emotional and stress related illness. I, Elisa Paiva Neta, am Brazilian and live in Canada. My husband and I used to go back to Brazil every December to visit our family back home. Now just the thought of being on a plane for 10 hours scares me. On the plane everybody is breathing the same air.
The COVID era carries a heavy energy filled with fear. Now we do not feel safe anywhere, even in our homes. The simple act of going to the grocery store requires a lot of us emotionally, as we have to use a mask, be away from people and use hand sanitizer all the time. This situation is stressful to our whole being as we feel the reactions through our physical body as the result of our emotions. Our nervous system is deeply triggered.
Coming home used to be an act filled with happiness, relief, joy and gratitude. Now all those feelings are blocked by this stress response to COVID. I know of parents coming home and afraid to bring the virus to their kids. The playdates in person are being cancelled. The babies and toddlers are playing only with their parents and siblings. The bigger kids are on online playdates. The learning that the kids get from friendship and being around other kids are lost. Throughout those innocent playdates and times at the park, school and library kids learn to socialize. Nowadays we are forcing the kids to be online at an early age.
It’s been three-and-a-half years since I, Andrea, moved from Toronto to Halifax. I like Halifax, but I would not say it feels like home. As spiritual hippies, my parents moved frequently during my childhood, and I never developed a sense of home in any particular place. Between frequent moving and pervasive emotional dysfunction through my growing up years, I didn’t feel “located” or safe either within myself or outside myself.
For the last 30+ years I have done deep healing and self-locating work. This has better prepared me for riding the massive changes that came with COVID-19.
It’s been almost two decades, and I clearly remember the day I went an hour early for an appointment with a counsellor at the Toronto Rape Crisis Center. I went early intentionally. I wanted to figure out why I felt safe there. For an hour I journalled, frequently looking up and around me, and feeling my way into why I felt safe there. As I looked around, my eyes fell on a poster that said, “A woman’s place is every place.”
There has been generations of conditioning about where it is appropriate for us to be – whether we are a woman, a queer person, a non-binary person, a Black person, a member of First Nations, a disabled person, a mentally challenged person, and there are so many other marginalized groups of people. It’s defined for us when it is appropriate for us to speak, be angry (never), cough, sit with our legs relaxed and open, eat, pee, and the list goes on.
I would suggest that we have been so conditioned to living in a box, we easily forget where we belong. We forget that we belong in our body. We belong with ourselves and our loved ones. We belong in our life. We belong in our home, our city, our country, our world.
Having lost a sense of permission to be who we are, we can become attuned to danger and live in a fight-or-flight mode. An experience like COVID-19 has played right into that dynamic, further elevating the experience for those already living in that mode, and bringing masses of more people into daily fight-or-flight. This is the aroused sympathetic nervous system response that Elisa so eloquently described above. It is a mode of deep coping.
This is not a space where we can thrive. The space where we can thrive is when we feel reasonably safe: when we feel at home in our body, with the people around us, and in our life.
It is important to reestablish a sense of safety and feeling at home within ourselves and our life. Once we establish that sense of being “home,” we can then extend that to others – through the circles of our loved ones, our friends, our work colleagues, our neighbors, and ultimately as a citizen of our country and world. This is deep healing work!
Wise ones have suggested that our most fundamental spiritual need is seeking to reclaim connection. This world is our home. We belong here. We are needed, as fully embodied and emboldened people. Living in open-hearted and assertive ways, bringing abundant light to all those we touch.
This issue of the Dream Whisperer newsletter is dedicated to helping you “come home” and deepen your sense of well-being within turbulent world change. I hope you will use the blessing and prayer sheet that Elisa and I prepared for you in the newsletter, and let the month of July be your stake in the ground to establish home within your heart.
If you would like to receive the Dream Whisperer “Coming Home” prayer sheet, you can sign up to receive the newsletter here.