There are the kinds of boundaries imposed on us and boundaries that are self-imposed. Both types are intended to keep us safe either physically or emotionally.
The boundaries that have been imposed on us because of the pandemic are there to protect us, not from others really; rather from an invisible organism that can possibly attack us, with no harmful intention from the unaware transmitter. It’s kind of like “friendly fire” in a war when a soldier innocently and unwittingly kills a fellow soldier. In a war the soldier who executes the accidental killing usually finds out and must live with this knowledge the rest of their lives, a tragic burden to carry.
For us, in the current times, we will never know, especially if we are asymptomatic, whether we have participated in someone else’s demise. So, in some ways the boundaries that have been imposed on us now in the form of quarantine are meant to mitigate the potentially lethal damage we could cause to ourselves and others AND soften the burden of having possibly caused harm to another without realizing it.
On a metaphoric level these boundaries teach us to not be oblivious of the many ways we may bring harm to another. Every rule we must follow allows us to be living from a more mindful place. Every time we stop ourselves from crossing the many boundaries, by staying home when we feel like we are going bonkers, or washing our hands yet another time, or donning a mask when we go for a walk, we might pause and say to ourselves with intentional awareness, “I do no harm to myself or others.” This is one small gift we can give mankind, no matter the inconvenience or discomfort.
Sometimes those of us who are living alone during these challenging times may feel extremely isolated because of these externally imposed boundaries. Creatively, I invite you to find ways to step over the boundaries that ordinary life had already imposed on you, like not having time to reach out to people you haven’t connected with for a long time because “I don’t have the time.”
NOW is the time.
Check in with old acquaintances just to say hi. You might be very surprised how good it feels to realize you have many more allies and friends than you thought you did. You may be pleased to find congruences and resonance with people you thought you’d lost.
I remember my dad would challenge himself and began a ritual of making a list each day of people he wanted to reconnect with and he would call them. He did this every morning. I see my son following in his grandfather’s footsteps, as he has friends and connections all over the world, and with great discipline, he reaches out to them.
Fearlessly knock on virtual doors you haven’t for some time. One never knows the degree of receptivity on the other end and it is worth the minimal risk. Cross those unconscious boundaries and rewrite the narratives that surround them.
On the other hand, those of us who are living with others twenty-four hours a day, whom we care about or love yet do not always feel compatible with, create some explicit boundaries. Find a sacred space, even if it’s just the bathroom.
Do Not Disturb.
Make it clear- “This is my Time and this is my Space.” Make agreements so each of you have a chance to create a bubble around yourself. Have mutually agreed upon silent times where you do not intrude or are intruded upon. For those of us fortunate enough to have our own room apart from others, or a backyard, make it clear that you need time to separate, to differentiate, to self-reflect, and to restore. Bring consciousness around when it is time to connect and when it is time to regroup.
We need to find ways to not lose touch with ourselves during these most unusual times. In fact, we need to become even more intimate with ourself and our inner world. There are important lessons here to bring with us when the crisis subsides.
We also need to utilize these times to not lose touch with others and even reignite old bonds.
A good mantra: BOUNDARIES WITH BALANCE.