I have always been fascinated by the concept of culture, in the practical sense at least. Although early in my life my only exposure to other cultures was through TV and videotapes. Luckily, such things existed! But that had a great influence on my passion to learn about other realities. As an adult, I’ve travel to and lived in different countries. The more I traveled the more my thirst for cultural knowledge grew exponentially. I developed an inquisitive mindset to ask and discuss cultural norms comfortably with people to learn more about culture and understand how people see different cultures, sometimes differently from how I would see them.
One night I was at a big party here in England and got to meet many new people, most of them were expats and international students coming from all over the world. That was my kind of party.
Our busy lives in this day and age force us to just go with the motion. Rarely do we stop, breath and intentionally think of what we are doing and why we are doing it. Our diaries get filled up by others’ requests, our weekends get booked for others’ parties and our vacations get planned for family trips or family gatherings.
During the quarantine however, you have much time to pay attention to the one person who has always craved your attention but you have deprived them from it, that person is you. While many of us may seek distraction form the “self” by binge watching movies, scrolling through social media, calling friends one after the other or even over working from home; all these may not contribute to our self awareness, and hence impede our growth and development.
I personally experienced being home bound for two months last year after a foot injury. It was almost the same experience like this quarantine, I could not leave the house, I had to order everything to be delivered and could not do much hopping around on one foot. In a way I find the quarantine now easier than that experience. I can still work out now, do more housework and leave the house if needed. What I did last year during those two months was mostly lying down on the sofa with my foot elevated. Such a position did not even allow me to work much on my laptop, I could not find a comfortable position no matter how much I tried. So I interrupted my studies and forced myself not to work.
Instead I allowed myself to just explore and learn about different areas beyond my work, and my comfort zone. I watched comedy TV shows which is something I usually do not do and realised the value in them. I had my laptop placed on a table front of me and watched youtube videos on different topics. One video led to another and I ended up watching videos about self development and spirituality. Shortly this became my addiction all day long binge watching videos of Tony Robin, Bob Proctor, Brian Tracy, Mel Robinson and many others. The more I learnt the more I made tiny changes in my perceptions, habits or schedule. Gradually and by the end of the two months I felt like I was a new person. I went back to work and my productivity massively increased. Perhaps part of it because I missed work. But the real reason is that I learnt how to manage my time and energy and planned my schedule accordingly. I learnt how to motivate myself every day and love the process of grinding and growing. On a personal level, my eating and workout habits have always developed dramatically. I learnt a lot about nutrition and add this in my daily to do list to keep track of what I am eating and how much I am working out.
Perhaps the biggest change was something I learnt from spirituality which is managing our emotions and our interpretation of reality. This is something you hear about much in the works of the ‘Law of Attraction’ with the popular maxim “Likes attract likes”. Our perception of reality thus brings us a reflection of that perception in our physical world. If you perceive others as haters, guess what, you will get more haters. If you perceive yourself as capable of accomplishing a big project, it is more likely you will. All in all, the amount of inner work we should be doing is an endless process of self awareness and self growth. If we never stop and reflect on ourselves, our emotions and our perceptions we will never manage to make steps forward. To start learning about the self I suggest starting by exploring the concept of ego, especially in the amazing book by Ryan Holiday “Ego is the Enemy”. However to start the actual inner work I suggest practicing gratitude meditation. Gratitude is one of the most neglected type of emotion that we barely feel yet is the strongest in the positive emotions spectrum and thus can elevate our energy levels and positive outlook. It is in my eyes step one in the “spiritual awakening”.
I believe this quarantine time will perhaps be what the spirituality folk call “the grand awakening”.