Wow! First, I hope you and your loved ones are all healthy and safe. This is a difficult time for our entire world. None of us have ever experienced anything like this…ever! So, what do we do now? How can we rise up in this time of crisis? It’s important to allow the negative feelings we may have---the frustration, sadness or fear---to be felt and processed. But then how can we begin to challenge ourselves to rise to this historical occasion? I remember a quote a catholic priest said at a funeral I attended last year: “Now’s the time to double down on your faith.” His words gave me comfort then and they bring me comfort today.
I’m not catholic, but his message is universal. Our faith, whatever it is, can help us get through hard times with compassion, generosity and grace. As most of you may have guessed, I’m more of a spiritual person and turn to the yoga philosophies for guidance, especially the 8 Limbs of Yoga. They provide me with a valuable set of tools I use to help me navigate through life’s ups and downs. While I was not prepared for this pandemic---nobody was---I feel I have been able to stay grounded, healthy and positive…so far anyway. This is a day-by-day experiment, but I’m challenging myself to rise up and make the best of this situation. Each of the practices within the 8-limbed path are so useful, but during this difficult time I’m using a few specific teachings to help me get through the next few months. I hope some of them might resonate with you too!
Be Kind to Others (Limb 1 - Yamas)
With today’s situation I turn to the practice of ahimsā, or non-harming. It’s a foundational practice that guides us to cause the least amount of harm possible to ourselves, others and the planet. Examples of how I’m practicing this now is very simple but has a profound affect on me and my family. Being home bound with 5 family members can be challenging AND rewarding. I decided from the beginning to relax my rigid personality---I like everything in its place and planned out ahead of time. Everyone is handling this situation in their own way and so I’m responding with more empathy and less judgement.
I’m taking the practice of ahimsā a bit further by asking myself “how can I serve others?” Right now this consists of: making fresh and healthy meals for my family; calling, texting and facetiming friends and family to check in to see how they are coping; we are continuing to pay for services we can’t use right now (i.e., our housekeeper, gym memberships, yoga studios, etc.); sending what I call “COVID-19 Care Packages” to our families that live far away; and making small donations to local charities such as OG Yoga and San Diego Youth Services.
How can you practice ahimsā in today’s environment?
Taking Care of Myself (Limb 2 - Niyamas)
Since COVID-19 came into our lives I think we all have learned about the importance of cleanliness! This is the basic practice of saucha, or purity, one of the personal habits within the niyamas. Another niyama I am practicing is santosha, which is contentment. How can I be content with what is happening in my life right now? A way to promote the feeling of contentment is through gratitude and I have a lot to be grateful for right now. Overall, the benefits from the stay-at-home orders has been quality time with family, more time for self-care practices, and more time to be creative in growing my business.
What are you grateful for?
What are some potential positive outcomes from this pandemic?
Move Daily (Limb 3 – Āsana)
Because of social distancing my entire exercise routine has changed, but I’m loving it! I’m thoroughly enjoying daily walks with my husband (and sometimes we can get the kids to join us). It’s such a great way to unwind from our day, to catch up and check in with how we are feeling about life now and how grateful we are with what we have.
Thankfully, my go-to yoga teachers are moving their classes to Zoom! Now, I’m able to bump up the frequency of my yoga practice (āsana). I’ve even set up a temporary area for yoga in our living room and am jumping on my mat 3-4 times a week. I recommend classes by Sarah Clark Interconnected and Yoga with Jenna.
What ways can you add movement to your day?
Go Inward (Limb 5 – Pratyāhāra)
The goal of pratyāhāra is to lessen our reactivity to what life throws at us and, boy, life has thrown us a whopper! This limb teaches us to withdraw from our senses so that when we feel, see, taste and hear we let go of reacting. One way to practice this is during our meditation sits. Knowing how important meditation is to our body, mind and spirit, especially in times of crisis, I bumped up my meditation from 15 minutes 3-4 times a week to 30-40 minutes each day. I’m also using a guided meditation from Dr. Joe Dispenza and I’ve been amazed how I’ve been able to stay grounded in the meditation for such a long time (for me anyway). Now it’s much easier for me to ignore other sounds around me such as our cat sitting in front of me meowing incessantly, people talking in other rooms, and landscapers mowing the lawn outside. That is the practice of pratyāhāra! It has helped me to be less reactive throughout the day as well.
I have a specific pratyāhāra meditation technique that I invite you to try. Click here for the simple instructions.
How did you feel after trying the pratyāhāra meditation technique?
I know things are probably going to get harder over the next month, so let’s all take care of ourselves and each other the best we can. Samadhi, the 8th limb of yoga, is a state in which we truly know and feel that everything is interconnected. We are in this together and we will get through this together! Namaste