When the world seems upside down, I have found my practice to be the one saving grace at a time when little makes sense.
As the world faces its latest crisis with more uncertainty and fear than we have seen in decades, what has become finally clear to everyone is that yes, we are literally all connected. And no matter how hard we try to divide ourselves, the undeniable reality is that we all breathe the same air.
I personally have found this particular time to be an interesting study in human behavior, my own as well as others, and how it relates to yoga and the philosophical ideas I have pondered over the years.
In the collective rush to get toilet paper, Clorox, hand sanitizer, canned soup and bread, I realize we are all grasping, clutching to the security of what we think will sustain us, holding on to what we feel is important to us. As I waited in line at Jewel behind a woman who joked about her uneasiness of having two gallons of Clorox and 2 jumbo packs of toilet paper, I found myself compelled to run back and grab an extra pack of TP.
On my way home, I thought about why I reacted that way. Was I practicing asteya, abundance, enoughness? Was I practicing aparigraha, non-grasping, non-hoarding? Ummm… not really! Good news (besides having an extra pack of TP just in case) is that I found myself in a moment of self-reflection, svadhyaya. I was recognizing that I had fallen off my own course a bit and whisked into the frenzy that surrounded me. Funny how anxiety, not just viruses, is contagious.
For me, the practice of yoga is not just a practice of gaining self-awareness about my body and mind on the mat but recognizing my own thought and reactionary patterns (samskaras) in my daily life. And if I’m really paying attention, with every step and every breath. Clearly, that doesn’t always work. But the first step is having the awareness to recognize it!
As I realize my own impulse to hoard and take cover from the unknown, I’m sharing my experience with you just to provide some perspective. A new way to look at things. Like practicing an inversion, which happens to be good for boosting immunity by the way. By taking a step back, we can a.) Breathe a little; b.) See things more clearly; c.) Reduce our stress and anxiety levels. And since we know high levels of stress can result in reduced immunity and be a catalyst for illness and dis-ease, finding your inner calm and reconnecting with your center is not just a woo-woo, new age approach to health. It’s something you can do to help yourself when there’s little else we can do to control what’s around us.
So in earnest, I will continue my own effort to find sukha (ease) and santosha (contentment) during these confusing times. I encourage you to do the same. Find your internal place of peace within to get through that which we cannot change or predict. Instead of relying on 24-hour news channels or the remaining stock on store shelves for guidance, look inside yourself. Know that you have the answers to help you get through this. And with time and a calm resolve, we all will.