The first year of my marriage was quite long and anti-climatic for reasons beyond our control. Not only did I NOT get to live with my husband for 14 months due to visa processing, I also had to wait for 14 more days in self-isolation, once I arrived.
It has been one heaven of a ride, for sure.
But now that my quarantine period is done and dusted, I’ve decided to talk about the spiritual lessons that my isolation taught me, because this situation may happen for many more people in the upcoming period.
7 Life-Changing Lessons That I Learned From Self-Isolation
Whether you are under self-isolation yourself, or your loved one may be, I hope this post inspires you to keep going, by looking at the spiritual value of all that is happening.
Because, as the saying goes, nothing is by chance. Then let’s strive to find the underlying lessons and messages that the Universe has in store for us.
Lesson #1 – The universe may not unravel things as per your plan, but the Divine Plan is always pretty awesome.
In my case, my moving was rather melodramatic because we were constantly missing meticulously planned flights. But then the actual flight was like an overnight miracle. It almost came out of nowhere!
In March, my visa arrived 2 days later than assured to us by the team processing it, so I missed my original flight. And we rebooked, but lo-and-behold, 3 days before the second ETD (estimated time of departure), the nation went under lockdown.
Then, India kept extending its lockdown one phase after the other, and international travels kept being put on hold. So as more months passed by, we too, kept having to cancel one flight after the other.
So, after 8-odd travel plans being scrapped, it finally manifested for us.
As one of my friends so wittily said, and I quote, “when the world was traveling, you couldn’t. And now that the world is at a standstill, you finally made it”.
We can make all the plans we want, but sometimes, life isn’t about planning. It’s about preparing for what the Universe has planned for us. And though hearing this truth may not be flattering to our ego, the Divine Plan is perfect as it is.
It’s a strong reaffirmation from the age old saying that what’s meant to be, will be. And what’s not meant to be, will not be. All we can do is go through all of life’s challenges with a little grace, and have faith in the Divine Plan.
Lesson #2 – We need a LOT less than we think we do.
To put things into perspective, I moved across an entire continent. To the other side of the world, to start a newly married life. With just 3 bags of essentials!
My original luggage plan was for 5 bags. But under quarantine, the travel restrictions became tighter and I only managed to take the bare minimum stuff I needed.
I filtered out everything. Less clothes, less shoes, and dreadfully, less books. As a bookworm that wanted to carry over a 100 books from my collection to my new home, I eventually only brought a handful.
I also learned that the bare minimum is a lot less than the bare minimum we assume. Imagine planning for a trip, and then having to filter out 40% of the stuff!
Also, I eventually only used 1 of the 3 bags to live in my 14-days period of isolation, and all my other bags were moved to a separate place of no-contact. So I literally did live out of a suitcase, for two full weeks!
Lesson #3 – Not just materialistically, we need way less spiritually, than we think we do.
My sister-in-law had lovingly lined up my bedside table with a great selection of spiritual books for me to enjoy through my self-isolation. But to my shock, as I started reading through one of them on Vedanta, I kept feeling saturated.
“All the books say the same thing”, I said to her one day, with my expression masked under the surgical mask, but my disappointment was unmasked by my voice.
Then, she taught something so simple yet profound to me.
There are 3 phases of knowledge. Learning, applying, becoming. In today’s day and age, with an overload of information out there, we spend a lot of time learning and very little applying.
I know it can sound counter-intuitive, but take this period of quietude to not just fill your time with more knowledge or wisdom. Also use it to enhance your grasp on the lessons you’ve already learnt.
I would even go as far as saying as to use this time to create, not just consume. Empower yourself and the others around you with your inner Light. Whether it’s through an existing hobby or exploring a new one, find a way to bring more of your creative Self into the world.
What hobby did I pick up, you ask? Gardening! I’ve officially learned how to weed-out a river and plant new flowers, amongst other things.
Lesson #4 – We touch a lot of things which we don’t need to.
Self-isolation is basically about limiting your sense of touch.
One day, I was walking around the backyard, and I extended my hand to touch a peculiar looking flower, before I reflexively pulled back. Of course, there wasn’t anything wrong with touching a plant, but I had become habitual of refraining.
While our sense of touch is rightfully given to us to enjoy our existence, most of the time, we end up mindlessly touching so many things and leaving our energetic trace everywhere we go.
We create karma whenever we engage our energy with something through touch. For me, this was quite underwhelming because it felt unrealistic to always keep your hands to yourself. And yet, here I was, living like a monk. Which brings me to my next realization.
Lesson #5 – Self-isolation is very similar to living a monk’s life.
Here are some interesting observations from the past centuries, that came full circle for me:
- Like monks, one must learn to wash their own clothes and dishes, also owning very little garments or utensils (minimalism).
- The period of self-isolation is about facing our own escapism. No more traveling, no more partying, no more mindlessness. When you have so much time on your hands now, it becomes important to be still and reflect. Even if you can’t meditate, there are a number of other spiritual practices that can support your self-reflection at such a time.
- In some spiritual communities such as sanatana dharma, sages covered their mouths to avoid causing harm to others, themselves or the natural environment with their breath. Face masks are fulfilling that role in our world now.
- Like monks, we must keep our hands tucked in and to ourselves, refraining intimate human interaction like handshakes or hugs, to prevent the karma from extending.
Self-isolation may seem like an extreme way of living, but it is an opportunity for us to revive the great wisdom of the past and reincorporate it into our daily life.
Lesson #6 – Even in self-isolation, there are still numerous ways to feel satiated with love.
This period was an interesting challenge for my family to find new and creative ways to spend time with me, without crossing the guidelines. And boy, did they take on this challenge really well!
My husband made me a care package, loaded with my favorite snacks. Throughout the 2 weeks, he would send me a daily, quarantine check-in video from work, filled with fun tips and encouraging words. He’d make smoothies and sandwiches for me to have for my breakfast, and bring dinner from all the places he had been wanting to take me.
My sister-in-law hosted me for the full period, having decked a dedicated room with books, cozy blankets and all the essentials I could possibly need. She would also engage me in activities like gardening and meditation, which didn’t require proximity but at the same time provided companionship.
My parents-in-law would spend countless hours sitting around the boundary of my quarantine space, chatting with me from a distance. And every other day, the other family members made their presence felt by dropping by more of my favorite food, chit-chatting from a distance and celebrating the countdown with cake!
I felt so pampered and satiated with love, that by the end, the whole experience actually felt more like a blessing.
Whether it is a virus, or any other reason, our relationships are constantly challenged. But it is our responsibility to seek every change as an opportunity to make the relationship stronger, instead of becoming a victim.
Lesson #7 – It can be a period of immense transformation and reflection. Or you can let it pass by through a different form of escapism.
I’ve heard people talking about how many TV shows they’ve finished watching or movies they’ve binged on, during the period. Remember, it’s all about balance. None of that is bad, but you’re trading it off for something that could have added more value to your life.
Personally, as an introvert, I enjoy my time and space. But I realized I have escapism tendencies only recently. After spending nearly 1.5 years working around the clock towards my blog, I had to temporarily unplug. And it was overwhelming at first.
For the first three weeks, I wasn’t able to commit time to my work. And that period showed me how little attention I had been paying to the rest of my life.
So then, I took the opportunity to start changing my habits.
I had regressed on my own advice about self-love habits, so that’s where I began. I created more space and time for myself to do things that matter, to experience my multi-dimensional existence, instead of limiting myself to one life role.
Don’t let such an amazing opportunity to self-reflect and live more consciously be taken away by your autopilot tendencies.
As someone who’s always been fascinated by monks and has been repeatedly asked about my perspective about renouncing life to go to the Himalayas, this was probably as close to living the life of a monk as I’ll go.
And not just me, but so many of us will be under self-isolation. It will be challenging for the mind and body, but it will be true spiritual resilience that will get us through.
Of course, you don’t need to self-isolate to gain greater self-awareness. I’ve been practicing periods of maun vrat, observing absolute silence for a few hours at a time, in an attempt to deepen my spiritual growth.
And let’s be honest. At the end of the day, it won’t matter how productive you were or how much money you made, but how you evolved. So make it count.