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Here we are, well into self-quarantine and social/physical distancing.

With concerns of flattening the curve, we’re forced to stay home and isolate to limit spreading the novel coronavirus COVID-19. In doing so, we are compelled to explore new means to maintain order within our personal ecosystem. Virtual classes, conferences and seminars have become the new norm. Wiping down the groceries is a new habit. Filtration masks and latex gloves are the hottest fashion trend since the “dad shoe.” This is what Isolation looks and feels like.

Isolation, synonymous for “alone,” is often associated with negative concepts like disorder, unease, banishment, solitude, and loneliness. We as a species tend to observe “solo” practitioners as black sheep, misconceiving these individuals as “sad” or “depressed.” This is a reflection of how humanity has become so adherent to social engagement without understanding the benefits of Isolation. As humans, moments of solitude carry great benefits like meditation, artistic expression, introspection, the list is literally endless.

In a world evolving at such an alarming rate, we tend to forget that “practice makes perfect.” Better yet, as stated by the great Vince Lombardi, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” The greatest epiphanies come from moments where we confront our innermost deepest self, seeing beyond the six walls of the mind, embracing the moment and reacting with utmost fluidity. In BJJ, how often have you trained in such a meditative state that you envisioned a submission several steps before you did it? If you’re an artist, have you ever reached a moment where creation just flows effortlessly from start to finish? Some may chalk these experiences up to “tunnel vision” “focus” or “peripheral blindness”, but I call it Isolation, because you are isolated in your focus on the Now, bringing improvement to every moment that passes through you.

Isolation provides an exceptional tool to slow things down in a fast-paced environment. No matter the period of time, being isolated allows us to look inward to move forward. It provides a reminder of our connectivity to other things, living or nonliving. Reflecting on the current pandemic, as devastating as it is, has also made us more human again. Neighbors engage and share with one another. Folks leave supplies for those in need on their driveways. Loved ones communicate more often, either virtually or through text. These things represent an abolishment of ego.

Though these are extremely trying times, we must look beyond the pandemonium and understand the dual nature of all things. In martial arts, this is expressed in our ability to express love after mentally and physically battling one another. In Isolation, this is expressed as a corrective to the mental noise that constant social engagement can create. Conflict births resolution. Chaos balances order. Sunshine after downpour. The symbiosis of life.

Contributor: Jayson Palacio