Don’t look inside yourself!

I have always heard from friends, life coaches and, most often, from WhatsApp Wellwishers that it is important to Look Inside. These pithy messages have grown more virulent in recent times, urging people to use their Work From Home time for this. 

Most of these try to answer the quintessential questions of life – who am I? what do I really know? who do I want to be? Perhaps going all the way to – do I really exist? These are particularly nifty programs where they state upfront that they don’t know any of the answers and only YOU can find your answer. These questions are intended (I understand, through several experts on WA) to put you into meditative states and hopefully find the answers yourself.
They don’t just ask these questions but prescribe a series of steps – a veritable Dummy’s Guide to getting into that introspective state. These steps tend to follow a pattern:

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Be aware of your body
  3. Let go of tensions
  4. Observe (through your mind’s eye) your small left toe
  5. Observe your heart beat – feel every pulse
  6. Observe your breath and the gentle rise and fall of your chest

It is around this step 6 that you get the first hint that your breathing is not as deep and smooth as you think it should be. (“Why is my breathing getting heavier, as I read this?”). You recollect every forwarded message and hammered home advice about COVID-19. Is your breathing a little shallower than earlier? Is it a bit irregular? Just the thought makes you super focused on the breathing and you command it to become smooth and easy. A lifetime of chair-bound work and years of regular venti lattes and blueberry muffins have left your lungs with their feet up on a recliner and a devil-may-care attitude. This, dear readers, is where things start unraveling.

Your lungs’ incapacity (or unwillingness!) to respond to you makes you concentrate even harder on your breathing – guaranteeing that it will get more flustered. You do a flash-back – who all did you meet? All in aid of trying to answer the one true question that matters now – do I have it? Naturally this gets your heart beating faster – you get to know because you have back-tracked to step 5 and, being a diligent student, are acutely aware of your pulse rate. You recollect that quick, nothing-will-happen-to-me, 15 minute saunter outside home a couple of days ago and being to wonder. Wonder if …? Your small left toe begins to twitch. You start getting worried. (“Should I have bought the Hydroxychloroquine tablets that all my neighbors did?“). Step 3 has bit the dust. As you reach step 2 your deep awareness of your body tells you that there are beads of sweat forming on your forehead. Beads-of-sweat equals feverishness. Which confirms your instinctive diagnosis of a full blown infection. Your eyes snap open.

COVID19, the lockdown, the extended WFH and all the associated worries are making hypochondriacs of everyone. Avoid going out or meeting people and breathe easy.

Or if you are the type that gets easily stressed, maybe what you need is a de-stress program which helps you Look Inside Yourself 🙂