During these very tender, yet tumultuously devastating times, even yogis get the blues.
I say this as I sit here in Michigan, where the death toll has climbed to the fourth highest in the U.S states due to COVID19.
As we view the empty streets, malls, stadiums, empty buses, we must keep in mind that this is a global act of solidarity, joining together to save lives. As scary as it is, it is actually a global act of love, working together to save lives – where our personal freedoms are rightfully being sacrificed in order to save more lives.
As we wake each morning, learning of the elevated number of deaths that rose overnight, we must remember self care. Especially now, as we continue to hear heartbreaking stories about people who are dying alone, without their families, without funerals, without their loved ones surrounding their bed as they take their last breaths, while the last person they see is a nurse or doctor covered with masks, and shielded with gloves, we must learn – as my Yoga teacher, Sangeetha Kannan taught me many years ago while studying Yoga in India – Shraddha. The Surrender to God, or Faith, as this will lead our hearts to feeling lighter in the midst of all the heaviness surrounding us.
It is, undoubtedly, a global crisis that none of us are able to run away from, or hide from, as we are all at risk of losing our lives, and this fact alone is enough to make even the most cheerful person on earth, grow depressed.
It is understandable, especially in these times, to feel despair, to feel a fear of death, to want to live beyond the pandemic. However, as we live, the best we are able to during such times of uncertainty, what we must surrender each day to – is the mere fact that if we are granted the gift of getting out of bed each morning, it is a gift, a blessing, and one we should not take for granted.
This is not to say that being positive means you are always happy, but rather you are living in the moment, practicing self care with hope in your heart that days will get better. As the cliché says – “This Too Shall Pass”! It is crucial that we be gentle with ourselves, to allow ourselves to feel our emotions without judgment, to allow them space to enter so that they may grow to pass, so that we can engage in practices that support our mental, physical, and spiritual well being.
Self care during a global crisis is essential for us to survive more fruitfully. If humans are indeed made mostly of water then we must consider the work of Masaru Emoto, who said that human consciousness, negative or positive speech on water, both have an effect on water.
Masaru subjected water to positive words and then froze the water exposed to positive speech, upon freezing the water particles appeared as beautiful crystals, perfect in clarity, clear like that of snowflakes. Whereas, when negative words were directed onto water then frozen, the frozen water particles were distorted, uneven, and even foggy. If indeed humans are made mostly of water, than we can gather from this scientific study the benefits of positive thinking and positive words.
Buddha taught that before we speak our words they need to pass through three gates, 1. Is it true? 2. Is it necessary? 3. Is it kind? This is a very important pearl of wisdom which we must all consider, especially with diverse opinions floating around that are, either not true, not necessary, or not kind.
Today, positive thinking, along with self care is an utmost necessity. In the midst of this global crisis, we have been inundated with negative and fearful thoughts, which create stress and weaken our immune system. On the other hand we know that positive thinking helps to strengthen the immune system.
It is just as the author, Louise L. Hay wrote in her book, You Can Heal Your Life, “change your thoughts; you can change your life.” Louise L. Hay learned to change her thoughts to positive ones in the midst of being diagnosed with terminally ill cancer. She survived the terminal diagnosis and went on to write numerous Best Selling self help books that were written out of her own practice of changing a negative thought pattern into a positive affirmation. She also went on to study the various negative thought patterns that are linked to specific illnesses.
Of course, changing our negative thought patterns to positive ones in these times is even more challenging than before the virus spread over the world.
The first step towards a self care practice is a powerful yet easy one to practice at any time during the day – Breathe Awareness. The great yogis have taught us that it is the breathing that connects the mind to the body, like a bridge linking from one side of a mountain, over a body of water to the other side of the mountain.
When our breath is being held, or is erratic, our shoulders tense up, our jaw and tongue tighten, the entire body begins to stiffen, and the mind grows uneasy.
Simply sit in a comfortable seat, or lie down if that is more comfortable for you, and close your eyes with all awareness only on observing your breath. You will notice simply by observing the breath it will grow calmer, your shoulders will loosen and you will find yourselves more relaxed and at peace.
Another simple practice to add to Breath Awareness practice once you have found a more peaceful state, is to take the awareness into your jaw and tongue, and soften the area of the jaw and tongue. The great Yoga master Iyengar noted that if we soften our jaws and tongues the body will naturally follow because the jaw and the tongue when tight is our first indicator that there is stress and tightness in other areas of the body.
I have taught my yoga students over the years that we must practice being the silence in the midst of noise. It is equivalent to the pause in between notes within a music score. Without the pauses in between the notes, the music becomes just noise. It is the pause between the notes, the momentary silence that allows music to be created. As humans we must create the pauses within our lives, become the silence between the noises that is all around the world. When we practice being silent, practicing simple self care practices, such as Breath Awareness, while being mindful of our thought patterns and our speech, we find that our lives are more akin to music rather than the surrounding noise. We also find ourselves in a state of peace which can be cultivated through the present storm we are all waiting and hoping, and praying for it to pass, soon.
In summary, we need to practice changing our negative perspectives into more positive ones. We need to practice seeing the blessings surrounding us, that simple practice alone fills our hearts with gratitude which has positive effects on the body.
We need to practice Shraddha/Surrender to God or Faith, as it too, has the ability to bring lightness to our hearts, and cultivates peace during uncertain times. My mother used to say, “When life gives you too big of things to comprehend, put it in, “God’s To-Do Box.”
We need to practice watching our thoughts and our speech, because our actions are born out of our thoughts and our thoughts are directly linked to our bodies, and we know that negative thoughts can have adverse effects on our minds, bodies, and spirits.
We need to practice Breath Awareness, everyday, in these times of being inundated by devastatingly sad news. It is our bridge to a more peaceful mind and body.
Lastly, check in with the jaw area, the tongue, and soften those areas, it is our indicator that tells us through the body in a subtle way whether there is stress in the body, or if it is relaxed.
These are simple practices, in very complicated times, just know, you’re not alone, Even Yogis Get The Blues, and it is self care that will at the end of each day help to keep peace within your minds, bodies, and spirits.