Emerging S-l-o-w-l-y from the Pandemic

Emerging S-l-o-w-l-y from the Pandemic

I’ve just read the manuscript for Deb Dana’s forthcoming Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory. Deb is currently the world’s leading expert in using practices of safety in connection to recover our inner home base of ease and calm in our troubled world.  In Anchored she offers the metaphor of a turtle slowly poking its head out of its shell after it has retreated inside for safety and protection.

I’ve thought of that metaphor more than once as so very apt for the tasks of s-l-o-w-l-y emerging from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And then last week experienced the wisdom of that for myself.  

Many of you know I’ve been slowly but steadily healing from a shoulder fracture in December 2020. Part of my rehab now is to swim, what I call the “broken-wing” breast stroke.  Even that slowly stroking across the pool is excellent for regaining range of motion, strength, and flexibility. 

After several weeks of that, feeling the joy of motion in my body again, without really planning to, I spontaneously tried a few laps of the freestyle crawl stroke, my left arm able to lift up out of the water enough that I could once again pull myself forward. Joy! And the wisdom of metaphor of the turtle poking its head out of its shell, my recovering how I used to be able to swim before, but not jumping too quickly, letting the trying new things emerge organically out of genuine strength and recovery.

The metaphor again for emerging out of the pandemic s-l-o-w-l-y. My family and friends are reaching for what we used to enjoy and maybe took for granted – a warm hug (even a back to back hug if that feels safer) sharing a meal (even distanced on a back porch if that feels safer), traveling to see an aging parent or a newborn grandchild (flying through smaller airports or renting an RV if that feels safer).

Safe enough to fall in love with life and take the risks of living. – Deb Dana

Recovering what we used to do, maybe took for granted, now motivated by what brings the most meaning, the most joy, the most aliveness. Opening up consciously and cautiously, feeling our way to safety and connection, taking the risks of living. 


1. Identify 1 or 2 activities that went missing during the pandemic. Getting a haircut, eating out indoors, meeting up with friends to share a meal or play a sport, traveling to see loved ones.  

2. Acknowledging current public health guidelines, search out ways you can safely move into these activities again, one by one. Invite friends and family to participate in the emergence with you. These is safety in connection. 

3. Feel the aliveness. Relish the doing of what we used to do, with new appreciation and joy.  Live into   the healing of the doing. 

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