It’s a sign!
According to the experts, there are two distinct ways that we deal with trauma – under-responding or over-responding, which is why some of us hibernated during lockdown, whilst others went into overdrive. As soon as the crisis hit, I forgot about going slow, initiated two work projects and began writing a new book. Two weeks later, I realised what I was doing – throwing myself into work so I didn’t have to feel my anxiety. I decided to slow down with long, mindful walks around the streets of London every day. I had added inspiration from my favourite social enterprise, Street Wisdom, which encourages us to mine the streets for ‘signs’.
‘A dynamic mix of psychology, creativity, mindfulness and cognitive science, Street Wisdom is based on the simple idea that wisdom is available at all times when we know how to look,’ says its co-founder David Pearl, author of Wanderful (Unbound, £9.99). It’s a simple process – ‘tune-up your senses’ by slowing down, breathing deeply and allowing your sense to pick up information around you. Then ask a question and go for a wander on a quest for answers.
When I gave myself time to notice, to listen, to tune-in, the empty streets and glorious beauty of our capital seduced me, and I slowly fell in love with it. I nestled on hidden benches, I gasped as I turned corners and dazzling buildings caught the light…parks vibrated with an energy that invited me to kick off my shoes and go barefoot. I asked big and little questions and London whispered its answers: Golden angel dogs on a billboard in response to, ‘Is Oscar all right?’ My little dog died earlier this year and I miss him, especially on walks; winged lions – a symbol of inner power – when I asked how to build the confidence for another project. And then, sometimes not-so-subtle, unmistakable answers – a massive placard at Camden Lock that informed me ‘anything is possible’ when I asked about my new book project.
Let the universe speak
One gloomy evening I wandered along the Thames, wondering about my new relationship. After being single for a while, I’ve finally met a man I like. But lockdown had separated us. ‘Do I have a future with him?’ I asked. London was deserted but, on the pavement in front of St Paul’s Cathedral, someone had written ‘YES’ in four-foot capital letters in red chalk.
‘Extraordinary things happen regularly on Street Wisdom events; wildly improbable coincidences discovered precisely when they are needed,’ says Pearl. Yes…Exactly what I needed. Perhaps my walks slowed me down enough to realise I’d fallen in love, and not only with London.
by Suzy Walker, Editor at Psychologies Magazine