What a strange time for the world. I’ve never experienced or witnessed anything like it in my lifetime, where friends and family around the world are all living through the same crisis: affected in different ways, certainly, but most people are directly affected in some way, whether they are being asked to wear a mask, exercise social distancing, or are even on the frontlines, as some of my friends are who are healthcare workers. I feel very grateful to be living in Australia, this island nation, relatively protected from infections. Though Melbourne is in a harsh lockdown that is continuing at the moment, our numbers are really so small compared to the rest of the world.
They were also strange days at the beginning of the epidemic, trying to find out what was happening and what I should do in terms of my reiki practice. I closed down a few days before we were officially required to do so, and then cancelled any appointments that had come in for the lockdown period. My online booking service, Bookwell, put everything on hold. I still got enquiries occasionally, as well as notes from clients who said to contact them as soon as I opened up. It was the longest period that I’d not given reiki treatments since starting Reiki Surry Hills, but it was not something to worry about, in the grand scheme of things.
I was surprised, when I was allowed to open, after three months of being closed, that it took a while for clients to return, and none were in a rush to come back. It felt like we were all cautious about how to reengage with the world, and how much time to spend outside our homes. I think the biggest change that I noticed, which has continued, is that people are not planning far into the future. I have a much higher share of clients than before who book just the day before, or even the day of an appointment. When the news about COVID has been bad, with a higher number of cases, I have noticed that clients have been staying home. I’ve also had a higher number of clients who have requested the student or concession rate, and I’ve been more proactive about offering this price if I find out a client might be struggling financially.
Overall, I’m impressed with how clients are coping with these strange days. There have definitely been clients who have come in because they are dealing with COVID-related change and stress, moving back to Australia from overseas, living in circumstances that may not be ideal (such as unexpectedly living with family members), and stress about keeping, changing or losing a job. I gave treatments to at least two clients who had just come out of hotel quarantine. I think the biggest hardships have been for clients who are from overseas, and unsure of whether to ride out the epidemic here in Australia (with uncertain employment) or go back home (and cut short their plans of being in Australia for a period, and then be unlikely to be able to return to Australia to work on the same visa). Other clients have been separated from their loved ones, or unable to travel home for a celebration or a funeral, which is heartbreaking.
And yet, what can we do in these unpredictable times? Generally, I see clients living more in the present moment and accepting the uncertainty. Recognising when they are feeling stress or facing difficulties, and being proactive about seeking support, like a reiki treatment. Perhaps because we are so lucky in Sydney with a limited number of cases of COVID, I think it is generally possible for all of us to try not to worry about what we can’t control, but then be proactive about what we can do: take care of our mental health and be compassionate to ourselves and others.