I finally got to catch up with my favorite friend in California last night. Like all of us, she’s going through it right now. She had to shutter her business for months and is slowly reopening. She’s struggling to unravel the intricacies of her PPP loan, adjust to new protocols and replace staff members who have decided not to return. She is stuck inside due to the dangerous air quality from surrounding wildfires, and valiantly co-parenting and helping home school 2 tween boys, all while crawling out of the pit of a devastating heartbreak. She is a mighty warrior. She climbed the mountain, rolled the giant boulder aside, crossed the raging river, and slayed the dragon…and somehow still manages to laugh. And then Friday night she heard the news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, and our brave heroine dissolved into a puddle of tears. She just couldn’t handle this ONE MORE THING.
We all have a breaking point, and these days if feels perilously close. Fear and uncertainty are the order of the day. No matter how well we have adjusted to the pandemic, grown accustomed to political mayhem, or found a way to compartmentalize the civil unrest and climate crisis, this is a very intense and frightening time. I think it is safe to assume that our nervous systems are all pretty well fried. Right now it is more important than ever to shore up our reserves and double down on self-care. Somewhere beneath the chaos, we each have a wellspring of peace, strength and resilience at our disposal. It is vital that we strengthen our connection to this sacred place within as we navigate our strange new world. We desperately need to ground into our breath, our bodies, and the present moment in order to nurture ourselves through the current confusion and uncertainty. If you’re already dangling on the edge of overwhelm, recommitting to yoga, meditation and mindfulness can feel like a herculean task. The good news is that it doesn’t require hours of deep meditation or vigorous asana practice to access our inner resolve and tranquility. Instead we can become serenity detectives, and search out opportunities to create pockets of peace throughout the day. Here are a few suggestions:
-Take One Yoga Class. If you’ve abandoned your practice because you’re not comfortable going to the studio, make a plan to get back on the mat. Try a zoom class if you haven’t yet. No, it’s not the same, but the yoga doesn’t know the difference. Chances are if you commit to even one class, it will feel so good that you’ll crave more!
-Go for a Mindful Walk. I walk my dog multiple times a day. Sometimes I’m so caught up in my thoughts and worries that I couldn’t even tell you where we went. Other times I play a game. I keep a running tally of squirrels, chip monks & bunnies, or look for things that start with a certain letter like “R”. It’s incredible what you notice when you’re actually looking. (Recycling bins, Rock wall, Roses!)
-Lie in Viparita Karani (legs up the wall). This is my favorite yoga pose, and it gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It energizes you when you’re tired and calms you when you’re stressed. It feeds your brain, soothes your nervous system, and can even help you sleep. Sometimes I read in bed in this pose.
-Read Something Inspirational. As aspiring yogis we’re encouraged to study the lives of the masters for inspiration. The great seekers who have come before us have lit lamps along the path for us to follow. Yogananda, Jesus, Buddha, Krishnamacharya, the Dalai Lama, and countless others can remind us of our divinity, and what is possible when we apply ourselves to pursuing a deeper life.
-Find Tadasana (mountain pose). When you’re standing in a socially distanced line at Kroger or wherever, plant your feet firmly into the floor, weight balanced evenly between the left and right foot. Spread your toes, press through your heels and reach the crown of your head for the horrible fluorescent lights above.
-Red Means Breathe. If you’re driving and find yourself sitting at a stoplight, instead of checking your phone or cursing the traffic, use the time to pull a long, slow, intentional breath deep into the bowl of your pelvis. Hold for 2 seconds and slowly exhale. Repeat until the light turns green.
-Be Grateful! Make a short list of things you’re thankful for at the end of each day. You don’t even have to write them down. Maybe make it your new tooth brushing ritual. Shifting our attention to our blessings is an immediate mood boost and a great way to regain perspective.
-Chant Yourself to Sleep. My insomnia is thriving during Covid! Now, instead of lying awake worrying about the state of the world, I silently chant “Om” until I eventually drift off. I usually get multiple opportunities to meditate every night! You can also just count breaths or focus on the rise and fall of your belly.