For many people, this period of confinement in lockdown has been a profound experience. A welcome period of contemplation and reflection, perhaps, to alter our understanding of time and space. Reconnecting with our homes as we enjoy spending more time in our place of sanctuary and through enforced leisure, a time to spend creating deeper bonds with family members in our households. And a heightened awareness of our immediate surroundings, hearing birdsong as if for the first time, or ventured down tracks within minutes of our front doors which have never been explored before.
But for others, it has brought pain and suffering on a scale that has not been experienced before. Feelings of loss, grief and hardship whilst coming to terms with reduced circumstances. As we begin to emerge from our enforced hibernation, I wonder just how will this new reality impact these fractured lives?
Whether your experience has been a good one or a not so good one, now more than ever, the idea of pilgrimage might be appealing. To walk a physical path of deep contemplation, to come to terms with grief, perhaps, or help reconfigure how you might want to reshape your existence from the lessons you have learnt, going forward. (See previous post for some ideas about how you might do this: ‘Keys to Pilgrimage‘ )
For me, the past three months in lockdown has been a period of deep healing in my own journey back to health. Obviously, I have moments of deep concern and uncertainty, not only for my own fate but for the wellbeing of my family and friends. However, I have managed to eliminate some of the things that were causing me so much stress and anxiety – and consequent ill health – in my life.
In my self-isolation bubble, I was able to focus my energies on re-booting my body back to health by using the foods I chose to eat as my medicine. And for the health of my mind, a bit of mind medicine. I made a conscious effort to meditate every day and was lucky to find Deepak Chopra. (Deepak has his own App, and offers free, 21 day meditation courses at certain points in the year).
Without any of the usual distractions of the normal, everyday bustle as we knew it pre Covid-19 days, it has been easier to experience the awareness of living in the moment. By meditating, we are able to find that still point in a revolving world, the liminal space between the monkey (chattering) mind and the quiet, subconscious mind. In this state of suspension between your levels of conscious awareness, if you are able to let go of limiting mental patterns – those feelings of fear and uncertainty that we are all familiar with at the moment and that might be holding you back – our conscious minds will be automatically renewed, refreshed, feel more creative and ready for infinite possibility.
Indeed, lockdown has made me feel a bit like an island, stranded in my own home. This has reminded me of my – as yet unpublished – book. The Rainbow Ribbon Way: An equine pilgrimage through the chakras. The story of how a long distance ride with my pony, in 2015, turned into a pilgrimage.
The story of the journey is book-ended by two sacred islands: beginning at the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, and ends at St. Michael’s Mount, in Cornwall. Two sacred islands in two different seas. The North Sea and the English Channel, both islands approachable at low tide via a causeway. The causeway, revealed as the tide retreats, a liminal space for deep reflection between this world and the otherworld.
I am fascinated by watery places like holy wells, lakes, bogs and in particular, why the stretch of shore that straddles these two Holy Islands from their mainland are still revered in our beliefs as areas of mystery and transformation. A fluid, inter-tidal zone that connects the main-land and the is-land: the terrestrial, grounded world and the other world of spirit. The thin veil between gravity and grace.
To walk across the causeway represents a right of passage for a pilgrim and her pony. At the beginning of our journey, leaving the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and making our way to terra firma the other side of the strand, represents the start of a much bigger journey. At the end of that journey, walking along the causeway to the Holy Island of St. Michael’s Mount, the causeway acts as a gateway to the otherworld.
In truth, each Holy Island acts as both a beginning and an end. In order to depart from an island, you must reach it in the first place. To begin our pilgrimage from Lindisfarne, Tommy and I arrived on Holy Island via a horse box driven over the causeway. Walking across the other causeway to reach our destination on St Michael’s Mount at the end of our journey, and back again over the causeway to the main land marked the final symbolic act of our journey across the country.
The journeys we make to and from these Sacred Islands are like a perpetual cycle as they draw us back, time and time again. For some, the journey to such a revered island is their last, having decided that a sacred island is a fitting place for them to die. The place where the veil between this life and the next is very thin. For me, to journey to the otherworld via a metaphorical island that holds such powerful spiritual connections to other worldly wisdom, is very alluring.
But you don’t have to go on a pilgrimage to experience these liminal spaces. A simple meditation will enable you to experience the strand line. With some simple deep breaths, you will find the place where distractions are put aside and if you are able to be present in the moment, infinite potential awaits you. The preparation required to receive your true inner wisdom – your own sacred space – from the recesses of your sub-conscious, quiet mind.