Even just a passing exposure to any movie or description of space travel will tell you that the most dangerous parts are getting there and then getting back. The concept of a “sterile cockpit” is often shared in management classes—the practice of eliminating all non-critical communication whenever the plane is under 10,000 feet. The process of taking off and landing again are the most dangerous parts.
As life resumes its previous shape, it’s no surprise that our re-entry is getting a lot of attention. Many of us got emotionally beat up as we were suddenly catapulted into our pandemic lives. We would be wise to pay attention to the pacing of our re-entry to the new normal, with a respect for the perils of returning when we have been gone for so long.
I am getting a lot of messages to just exhale – open my hands completely up, unclench my feet, unfurrow my brow. Just put that tension down, all the way down. Exhale all the way out, to empty.
The push to re-enter life is all around us. As more and more “normal” things are available, it can be exhilarating. Isn’t this what we’ve all been waiting for? Having dinner with a friend, going shopping, finding a concert… and yet even as I am thankful for these things, I find myself braced, low levels of tension present. When a yoga teacher or a friend invites me to relax my body and clear my mind, I’m finding that the tension I am holding is ever-present.
When these invitations to relax come, I find I’m resisting them. Partially, I think it’s nervousness about what might be on the other side of letting go. When life has been so unpredictable, can we actually exhale, let go, and show our underbellies? Could another sucker punch, pandemic style, be waiting for us if we let our guard down?
Master level instructors in my life have taught me over and over that we will respond to whatever comes with much more agility and effectiveness from a relaxed state than a tense one. As I contemplate my own re-entry, I’m going to accept more invitations to exhale. I’m going to reserve some of that time I had when I couldn’t leave my house for time to stop, breathe, and completely let go. With a healthy respect for the dangers of re-entry, I invite you to do the same: quiet the cockpit, unfurrow your brow, exhale all the way.
We didn’t get to choose the pace of being sent out into space; let’s not give away our choices as we make our way back.
This blog article was contributed by Margaret Vimont, Vice President of Strategy and Service Development for Nexus Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.