The outbreak of Covid-19 has clearly turned all our lives upside down. Most of us have come to terms with the new situation, but the quarantine requirements are not pleasant for anyone. We hear from many people that they feel lost somewhere in the tension between overwhelm and boredom. The longer the quarantine measures apply, the clearer it becomes that not only is everything different, but many things will likely remain different after the crisis.
Grief as a collective experience
Recently, an article appeared in the Harvard Business Review in which thanatologist and researcher David Kessler (who collaborated with the famous grief researcher Elisabeth Kübler-Ross) puts forward the hypothesis that we are currently undergoing a collective grieving process. Our grief is based on the experience of the loss of security and normality and the even more serious realisation that the once known normality might never return. This insight leads us through, not necessarily in linear order, the six stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, negotiation, depression and acceptance or hope. In the current situation, grieving seems to be an experience shared by many.
Move with and beyond grief
So what to do with all this grief? First of all we have to deal compassionately with ourselves and others. The experienced grief and its psychological and physiological effects are real, even if the thoughts that trigger our grief are not necessarily. Much of what makes us stressed or sad takes place in the space of our fantasies and fears. But regardless of whether we are dealing with realistic or unfounded fears — the first step out of paralysing fear is to become present in the here and now. What do I feel and sense right now, in this very moment?
Ground in the body
Our body plays a vital role in creating this connection to reality, because our body is always in the here and now. To feel one’s own body more, to move, to breathe consciously or to do yoga has proven to have a calming effect on our physiology and thus also on our psyche.When I am completely in my body, I cannot be in my fantasies about a catastrophic future at the same time. This means: get moving, get out of the house, go for an hour’s run, cuddle with a loved one, dance or do yoga. Anything that will bring you back in touch with your bodies.
Watch one of our favourite examples that proves everybody can dance!
Be in relationship
Another aspect in dealing with our grief and fears is to step out of isolation and into emphatic and honest contact with other people. Last year I attended the Meaning conference in Brighton. One of the speakers was a man named Maff Potts. After twenty years of experience in running homeless shelters, Maff decided to focus his professional work on what he believed made the biggest difference in people’s mental health and wellbeing: purpose and friendship. Maff then founded the Camerados. Camerados is a movement of people who are convinced that the answer to our problems lies in mutual support. Maff Potts and the Camerados therefore support people in setting up public spaces (in the form of so called ‘public living rooms’) where strangers and friends can meet and strangers can become friends. The Camerados are interested in offering spaces in which people can connect — because, as the saying goes, ‘shared suffering is half sorrow and shared joy is double delight’.
May the spoon be with you!
The mission of the Camerados is to reduce social distance and so Maff was understandably devastated when Covid-19 struck. In his blog post ‘When hugs are banned’ he spoke about his desperation when he realised what the call for social distance meant for the Camerados.We at Conscious U* wanted to help the Camerados. If meetings in public spaces are currently not possible, it is still possible to meet each other in virtual and virus free spaces. At Conscious U* we support organisations to build virtual communities and we know how to conduct productive online meetings that are not dominated by uncomfortable silence or people talking over one another.
Our collaboration with the Camerados gave birth to the Spoon Room concept. Spoon Rooms are time boxed online video conferences that follow a specific structure. We called them Spoon Rooms because in a video conference a spoon held up in the air helps to identify who is speaking. In a Spoon Room strangers and friends have the opportunity to share something about their life with others, laugh together, vent their frustrations and feel connected to humanity.
Absolutely everyone can set up their own Spoon Room – be it for their own team, their community, their family and friends or, if you know where to find them, for strangers.
Participate in a spoon room and learn to create your own
We now offer three public Spoon Rooms. Participation is free of charge and participation in one Spoon Room does not oblige you to participate in subsequent Spoon Rooms!
Register here for the Saturday (UK time zone) Spoon Room (in English) which takes place every Saturday, from 12:00–11:15 (CET).
Register here for the Saturday (USA time zone) Spoon Room (in English) which kicks of on Saturday, the 25th of April, from 18:00–19:15 (CET).
We hope to see you at one of the Spoon Rooms.
Stay safe, stay healthy and may the spoon be with you!
- Harvard Business Review article That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief
- Having fun in your body — the quarantine dance challenge
- Maff Potts at the Meaning conference talking about the Camerados
- Maff’s blog post When hugs are banned
- The ‘do-it-yourself’ Spoon Room concept