Being alone in times of lockdown

I moved to this city five years ago for work purposes.  Before I was accustomed to the city life, I regularly travelled home every month to visit my parents.  How I missed their company, the familiar sights and food!

A few years later, I settled in to my career and adapted to the city life.  After-work hours were spent socialising with colleagues, and weekends were spiritually fulfilling as I volunteered my service at the Buddhist centre and developed fellowship with Dhamma friends.  Life seemed like it was going well, or so I thought.

When the Covid-19 lockdown started, I thought “This will not last too long.  What a fine chance for me to catch up on many things.” As the lockdown stretched on for weeks, then months, an emptiness in my heart began to grow.  I realised that I felt lonely.  I video called my friends and family to quell the emptiness inside me. However, personal connection was limited as conversations quickly ran dry, replaced with awkwardness.

Before the lockdowns, my settled life in the city means that I visited my parents less frequently than I used to.  Now, feelings of guilt stirred as I realised that with the distance, I would not be able to support them should anything occur.  My guilt consumed me, and I began to seriously consider the idea of resigning from my job to return home.

Not wanting to struggle alone with my own thoughts, I shared my dilemma with my Dhamma friends and learnt that they were also facing similar challenges.  I was fortunate that a Dhamma sister helped me to understand that this negativity in my mind began with guilt and loneliness.  Through time, they proliferated and clouded my mind.

Thoughts of the past and how things once were, created a longing to return to those seemingly happy days.  Worrying about events in the future instilled fear and anxiety.  I discovered that by accepting the change of circumstances, I am able to live in the present moment and focus on what needs to be done, leading to a positive difference to my state of mind.

I started mettā meditation every day, sending thoughts of loving-kindness to my parents and friends.  Slowly, feelings of care and consideration arose, opening my heart to connect in a more meaningful manner.  I started having deeper conversations in video-calls with my parents, touching on matters close to our hearts, and giving each other the assurance that we are taking care of ourselves.  I also began periodically arranging for food deliveries to them and my friends as tokens of appreciation and care.

Now, as I go through MCO 3.0, I am no longer as anxious about being alone as before.  Instead, I am grateful for what I have now, and what I can give to others.  When my mind is calm, reflective and filled with kindness to others and myself, I find that I am a wonderful companion to myself.  May you too be well, peaceful and happy.