I was live on Instagram with the wonderful Crystal Marshall today. A broadband fail meant that our chat was cut short, although she was totally unfazed by that and continued to read my messages and keep the flow going like the gifted improviser and presenter that she is.
One of the things I had planned to share was my response to hugging withdrawal, the Hugging Meditation.
So, I’m posting my answers to Crystal’s questions below, and, if you scroll down (or even read it!) there’s a video of the Hugging Meditation for all those of you who, like me, can’t wait to get hugging again.
C: Name, age,where you’re from and what is your passion?
K: Kay, 65, born in Sheffield, have lived in London, Germany, France, Los Angeles, Ireland and part time in Mexico. Currently London. Which feels like home.
The question about passion was a really good one, it made me realise that my passions exist on so many levels. My big, existential passion is equality. Everyone should have a voice and everyone should be heard. I believe that everyone has something to offer that we can learn from, and the more diverse the voices we listen to the more we will learn. That’s what drove me to start the Turning the Tables project.
I think I’ve had this since I was very young – it was a family thing.
But I’m also passionate about more tangible things, science, dance, music, theatre and food.
C: How are you handling this isolation?
I’m up and down. Some days and moments I get really depressed and other times I rather enjoy the solitude. Noticing that I’m not as productive as I usually am, which I think is down to not knowing when it will end.
Having lots of Zoom calls with friends and family.
Cooking a lot – my freezer is packed!
C: What advice would you give to people to make this experience more manageable?
Advice that I’m not that good at taking myself!
Which is; try to have a routine not a list, appreciate beauty, stretch yourself to do a couple of small things every day that you find difficult – might be touching your toes, singing a song… .
Try not to leave things unfinished.
C: What are the benefits of mindfulness?
K: For me there are 3 types of benefit: mental/emotional, physical and creative.
Taking my mind off the things I can’t control and the anxious spinning of “what if” scenarios in my head .
Noticing places in my body where I’m holding tension and releasing that tension.
Leaving space in my mind and body for new ideas and new ways of moving.
C: What have you learned from isolation?
K: To hold on to that smile. When something makes me smile, like hearing my neighbours’ kids playing in the garden or the banter between the shopkeepers in my street, or watching my nieces amazing dance routines on TikTok (ScorahSissies), I hold on to that smile for a little bit longer than I usually would.
To say hello whether people are looking at me or not.
That I’m really am an introvert, even though no-one would believe it. I like living on my own.
C: Have you picked up a new hobbies/thing you’ve always wanted to do?
K: No. And I feel as if I’m supposed to have, but I’ve always had a bit of a reputation for doing the opposite of what I’m supposed to do!
I’m lucky that I took up running relatively recently, and that is really helping me to deal with the isolation.
C: What makes you happy if you’re feeling down?
K: Music. Even if it’s sad music, the very act of feeling sad makes me happy.
Having feelings that I can’t control is the only kind of lack of control that I like!
Looking at old photographs. They remind me that I have had a wonderful life with beautiful people.
C: What could we all do to make this experience better for everyone?
K: Make art and cake, not lists
Let people know that you appreciate them.
Look after ourselves and be considerate of others.
Join in the neighbourhood clap (here in the UK) for NHS and other essential workers at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, not only for them but also for the sense of community it gives us all.
C: What are you going to do after this isolation?
K: Invite people to dinner and hug them.
Visit my 90-year-old mum and hug her.
Go to as much live theatre, music and dance as I can possibly afford. This feeds my soul, it’s one of the reasons I love living in the city and our creative communities are suffering a lot, not only financially but in terms of loss of purpose. So many of them live to perform and co-create and this is especially hard for them.
Get back to planning the next Turning the Tables conference.
C: Do you think society will change for the better?
K: I hope so. I hope that we will have learned who really is essential to ourselves individually and to society, and that we will value them more.
I hope that we’ll be able to lose our attachment to possessions and shopping and learn that we are defined not by what we own but by what we do, what we create and how we treat others.
C: What is your favorite music to listen to around these times?
K: I’m working my way through my vinyl collection, I bought my first record in 1961 so that’s quite a spread! It also means that I have to get up every 20 minutes to turn the record over.
I’m loving anything that I can’t sit still to – today that was Gilles Petersen’s Tam Tam Tam Re-imagined.
Sometimes, I move spontaneously, and then I choreograph it. Just before this whole thing kicked off I was lucky enough to attend an improvisation-to-choreography course with Seke Chimutungwende which gave me the idea to choreograph my spontaneity during lockdown – it makes my dancing more mindful.
And here is your Hugging Meditation. Enjoy!