Ana Bilokin (22), communication student in Montreal but currently living in Toronto with her mother and stepfather, has found her way back to spirituality thanks to the pandemic.
March 2020 is one to never forget. This whole year is one to never forget. At first, Ana thought that people were overblowing it but all of sudden it started to feel more serious. “I remember going thrift shopping that afternoon because it totally didn’t sink in.” That was the case for a lot of people. Everyone was thinking it would be over within two weeks and here we are almost 10 months later. “I even met up with some friends at a bar that weekend. Nothing felt real and we didn’t fully understand what kind of threat it was.”
The measures in Canada were about the same as everywhere else in the world. Schools were being closed, international travel was banned and they asked their population to stay home. Ana came back to her home in Toronto but started her life in Montreal again back in July. Until the second wave hit.
“It started to feel quite lonely so I came back to my mom’s place in Toronto. As the years have gone on, I have been very grateful to have this safe space. I talk to my mom about a lot more things in my life than I normally would have. She is the person that is physically the closest to me. We are both very introspective people and have both been focusing on our mental health. The work we are both doing on our own with our own mental health is paying off in our relationship.”
Covid-19 is having a negative impact on people’s mental health. It’s a hard subject to talk about for a lot of people all around the world. Particularly prevalent among young people and students. Bilokin was feeling really down at first. “I even failed a class about the history of the Soviet Union.
Like living through my own tragedy wasn’t already too much. I didn’t have the emotional energy to deal with this heavy subject where a part of my family is from.” Luckily, the second wave is doing her a lot better. “Through all of my alone time I have found really useful coping mechanisms for myself. My mental health is now the best it has been in years because I am more in touch with myself and my needs.”
For a lot of people, the pandemic resulted in finding new ways to express themselves and in finding new hobbies. Ana found her way back to spirituality at the start of quarantine. “There was a chance that I would have gotten where I am now otherwise but I do think that the pandemic jumpstarted the process. It forced me to be resilient and question how I am dealing with things.” Spirituality led to more self-acceptance for the Canadian, which was a big thing for her.
“The friendships where I am putting more energy into feel a lot more genuine and open.”Ana Bilokin
How it all began
Spirituality isn’t something new in Ana’s life. She had a phase in high school where she was thinking and learning more about it. “I was reading about Buddhism, the law of attraction and meditation but not so much doing it.” While living with her mother in Toronto, who she connected with on a deeper level during the lockdown, she started to get back into it.
Spirituality is clearly coming from Ana’s mom. “It was definitely something that was familiar to me and present in my life.” Years went by where Ana was doing the cool stuff. “I got caught up with hanging out with people, making friends and partying. Spirituality didn’t feel like a priority to me.”
New year, new me
People often start the new year with new resolutions. Bilokin was already more interested in learning more about tarot cards at the beginning of 2020. “When the pandemic hit I got a deck of tarot cards. It was the catalyst for all the shifts and changes that have happened in my life since.” A whole new perspective for the Canadian woman. “I started and never wanted to look back because it was a way to have something to consult with and make sense of the chaos.”
Tarot cards are a form of divination, which literally means working with the divine, or your higher self, which is the ultimate purpose of tarot cards, just like yoga. “While it is something external to consult, it also gave me more faith in my own wisdom and intuition. I was getting these messages that were really useful and accurate to the moment.”
“I am more interested in spirituality as a tool for healing than I am as a way to explain how the cosmos works.”Ana Bilokin
With all that’s going on in the world, Ana has found a language to talk about the events that are happening. “When I say spirituality, I don’t worry about the explanations and about why it is happening. I feel like that separates spirituality and religion for me. I just explore with these different tools and if I find something that works for me then I use it. I see the results without having to necessarily understand why it is happening.”
Spirituality is clearly not for everyone. A new way of living often leads to new friendships and beginnings. That found a way in Ana’s life as well. “Spirituality is creating a gap between me and my roommates in Montreal. Being supportive of each other is very important to me. I find it harder to not talk about spirituality with my friends that aren’t self-analytical.”
Spirituality has definitely shifted her relationships but also opened up a lot of new doors. “The friendships where I am putting more energy into feel a lot more genuine and open.”
“We don’t dress to be witchy, it’s more a way of looking at the world.”Ana Bilokin
Tarot card readings have definitely some prejudices and images around them, like witches. “A friend whom I was doing readings with and myself joined a coven.”All meetings happen online nowadays and the coven meetings aren’t any different.
“I saw a few familiar faces over Zoom and some new people I’ve never met. We want to meet weekly and exchange our knowledge. I’m really excited for that.” Ana says that the people participating in the coven aren’t mainstream people. “Most of us are eccentric and very much in anti-capitalist ethos. We don’t dress to be witchy, it’s more a way of looking at the world.”
As much as Ana has found ways to cope, she hopes the lockdowns will be over soon. “I am really excited to have this new, grounded perspective and be able to explore the world. I feel like there is more possibility now that I have had all this time to think, reflect and reset. Even the smallest things are going to be amazing.”