Updated: Apr 14, 2020
"Let's just throw 2020 away..." is the resounding message I've been seeing in every virtual space I visit daily. You know what? I totally 👏🏿 get 👏🏿it! Like so many of my friends and family I had a much different vision for what this new decade was going to bring into my life. Fresh off of finishing yoga teacher training and just as I was finding my groove teaching my studio classes and my mini yogi's at a school in Baltimore all that was familiar shifted so quickly. The rest of the story you know because you are in solidarity with me living out the unknown that is forcing us all to recreate a new "normal". This collective obstacle that we're facing brought me back to reflecting to a text we used in yoga teacher training known as The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda (1). Particularly sutra #30 in Book One which reads that "Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained---these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles." In the following summary Satchidananda goes on to say that "We all seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities. In fact, that is the natural law." I reread that and thought "well dang" these notions are spot on and this is pretty much what we are all collectively battling...a global test of our limits. Nevertheless the beauty of tackling this together is that it's forcing us all to dig deeper into connecting with each other but most importantly with ourselves.
Much like this larger challenge that we're all facing, yoga as a practice is filled with many tests of our perseverance, compassion and patience. It can show us the depths of our strengths...some of which we have yet to discover. I know I know...how do we even arrive at a place where can use yoga to still what troubles us? I will admit social distancing has sent me into a tailspin most days and sometimes even I have neglected to turn to my yoga mat to cope. However I've been trying something new that seems to be helping me ground my feelings when they are in overdrive. When I hit peak overwhelmed I ask myself these three questions:
Is it time to put everything on pause and REST?
How can I RELEASE this feeling in a healthy way?
What projects can I REVISIT and channel this energy into?
This is one of my redirection tactics...channeling my anxiety into a choice that honors what I need right then. Some days I indulge in catnaps, TV and all day snack bingery (yes I made this word up 🙃). In other moments, I seek comfort in venting or dance parties on FaceTime with loved ones. Then there are times when revisiting an entrepreneurial idea or a creative project (wink wink) is really what I need...to make something that allows me to move closer to the bravest version of myself.
So what does this all mean anyway? Well in my field of Community Psychology one of the foundational values is "holism" which reminds us to consider a persons entire lived experience inclusive of their close connections, community and personal strengths (2). So given all of what you have to juggle right now I encourage you to consider what you need as a whole. Think about how you can honor those needs by redirecting your anxiety into actions that emphasize holistic care which is not always something you can touch. It requires us to acknowledge what is tender and still healing. It demands of us honesty and surrender when we're too tired to maintain a facade of strength. But guess what? YOU GOT THIS!
I am holding space for you and all that you carry...some of which we're holding up together. I hope you felt seen in this post and that it helps you find ways to create lightness in the coming days. Feel free to share ways you rest, release and revisit in your life. I'd love to hear from you!
P.S. If you're curious about reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (which I highly recommend) you can find it by clicking below:
1. Satchidananda, S. S. (Trans.). (2012).The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali. Buckingham, VA: Integral Yoga Publications.
2. Prilleltensky, I., Laurendeau, M. C., Chamberland, C., & Peirson, L. (2001a). Vision and values for child and family wellness. In I. Prilleltensky, G. Nelson, & L. Peirson (Eds.), Promoting family wellness and preventing child maltreatment: Fundamentals for thinking and action (pp. 124–173). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.