Self-isolation can be tough for many. But it has also brought some extraordinary changes to our quality of life that no-one could have imagined as recently as a month ago.
The Balinese can teach us all a thing or two about self-isolation. They’ve practised it for hundreds of years in the form of an annual day of silence and introspection called Nyepi, when everything comes to a complete standstill. The island’s airport is closed. No planes are allowed to arrive or depart. No-one is allowed to travel anywhere, do any work, use any equipment, light any fires, turn on any lights, burn any candles or make any noise.
For an entire day, there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go. After extensive islandwide Hindu purification ceremonies the day before, everyone stays at home for 24 hours, spending time with their family. The more spiritually inclined take the opportunity to fast and meditate in the extraordinary stillness that descends upon the island. Even the dogs stop barking and the cockerels hardly crow, unless someone breaks the rules by moving around.
During the 20 years I lived in Bali from 1990 to 2010, Nyepi was always my favourite day of the year. It was something I eagerly looked forward to. Something that could not be experienced anywhere else on earth.
Entire countries in lockdown
As I write this, at least a third of the world is on stay-at-home lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. For the Balinese, it will feel like an extended Nyepi with less rules. They had a small taste of it last month when this year’s Nyepi event was extended by the Balinese government from the usual one day to two days because of the coronavirus situation.
For the rest of the world, self-isolation on a national scale is a completely new experience. And although it’s heart-wrenchingly sad that it will result in hardships for so many people, there are some upsides to it too. Here are some examples of this to brighten your day…
Air pollution levels have dropped
‘The reductions in air pollution in China caused by this economic disruption likely saved twenty times more lives in China than have currently been lost due to infection with the virus in that country,’ says Marshall Burke of Stanford’s Department of Earth System Science. In fact, if you explore the historical data at the Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map, it clearly shows that the air pollution in most of the world radically improved last month.
The world is a quieter place
Constant exposure to noise causes stress and a range of other health problems to humans and other life forms, such as the fish in our oceans and the birds in our trees. The drastic reduction in traffic by air, land and sea means that many places in the world are now much quieter. Some people living in cities are reporting hearing birdsong there for the first time ever!
Skies are bluer and stars more visible at night
The drop in air pollution means that many places in the world now have clearer blue sky than usual, which also means more stars are visible at night.
Dogs are happier with their owners at home on lockdown
Dogs really don’t like being left at home all day by themselves, as video surveillance footage has often shown. Experts, in fact, recommend not keeping a dog as a pet at all if it will often be left alone for more than four hours at a time. So dogs around the world are blissfully happy that their owners are at home at the moment.
People have stopped wasting their money on fast fashion
As the boss of Next put it,’ People do not buy a new outfit to stay at home’.
Acts of kindness have radically increased
News channels and social media around the world are reporting many heart-warming, tear-jerking, genuine acts of generosity and kindness.
Our lowest-paid workers are now the most highly valued
Nurses, delivery drivers, binmen, and a host of other low-paid professionals who are keeping things running at this difficult time while putting their own lives at risk are now more valued than highly-paid footballers and celebrities, most of whom are now completely redundant. Hopefully these wonderful people will all receive substantial pay rises to show how much we truly appreciate them.
A lot more people are reading books
Books sales have surged in the last month, especially ebooks, because they can be ordered and delivered online. People are reading books they would never have had time to read before and learning about things they never expected to have time to study.
Feel free to add comments below about any other benefits you’ve experienced as a result of the lockdown.
Copyright © Karen Kingston 2020
A spiritual perspective on the coronavirus lockdown
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