As I write this post we are heading back into another COVID lockdown. Record numbers of people are infected with the virus and there is so much uncertainty everywhere. People are worried, stressed and generally exhausted. Thoughts of simply coping and getting through one day at a time are the norm. Despite the lovely short reprieve from all the stress and worry for a few days around Christmas and Boxing day, that calm seems well behind us now.
So I have been thinking about what helps me to cope and feel better despite the swirling media messages and endless chatter about the pandemic. Of course my yoga practice provides foundational and fundamental support. And when I say my yoga practice, I do not mean just on the mat asana and movement practice, although that is very important. I mean yoga in the broader sense. There are so many tools in the yoga toolbox that we can call upon. The power of pranayama (conscious breathing) and mindfulness are key. When I feel scattered or unsettled I stop, close my eyes, press into my feet and lengthen my spine. Then I simply take a long slow inhale and a slow releasing exhale. Even after just one breath I can feel a tiny sense of relief. I invite you to give it a try right now!
Close your eyes.
Notice your breath.
Feel the inhale coming into your body.
Feel the exhale letting go and releasing!
Present Moment & Mindfulness
When we bring our awareness to our breath we find ourselves in the "present moment". This is not just a new-age platitude. Despite being tossed around by every marketing agency out there, the notion of being in the present moment can be an incredibly powerful tool to invite calm, and a little peacefulness into the craziness that abounds right now.
Over this Christmas break my aging mother had a fall, hitting her head badly. She had to be rushed to the ER for a series of tests. As I sat with her for many long hours, I found plenty of moments where the practice of mindful breathing was incredibly helpful. I held her hand and allowed my calm breath and energy to be transmitted to her. It was a powerful experience.
Stuff & Impermanence
During this time in the hospital I had a lot of time to think. I got to thinking about "stuff". As my frail mother lay there in her hospital bed, it struck me how the importance of "stuff" was so irrelevant. The nurses had removed her gold necklace and given it to me. I put it around my neck. It felt nice to have the weight of the gold chain against my skin, yet it also struck me how unimportant that necklace really was. Sure it had some monetary value, but as the saying goes, "you can't take it with you when your gone". My mother liked her "stuff". She collected fine china, sterling flatware, diamond rings and expensive jewelry. Yet here she was close to the end of her life with none of that stuff anymore. It has all been given away or gotten rid of. Gone and forgotten. I got to thinking about the impermanence of it all. The before and the after don't really matter. What matters is the here and the now. Yes, the present moment!
Nature & Beauty
And then I got to thinking about impermanence...but in a good way. The natural cycle of nature. Birth, life, death and rebirth. The interconnectedness of everything and the essential beauty that nature and the natural world provides. This is the "stuff" that I connect with. This is the "stuff" that helps me make sense of the world. So I take another tool from my yoga toolbox. I seek out beauty. I notice it and allow myself to rest and reside in that beauty. Finding beauty in nature is so easy; the sky, the clouds, a flower, a bird. It is everywhere, all the time. It is timeless and abundant. I invite you to take time to stop, to look, to notice and to reside in beauty also. It has an incredible capacity to soothe and calm.
Open your eyes.
Look around you.
Notice near & far.
Appreciate what you see.
Soak it up!
Art & Music
Finally I would like to share my thoughts on art and music. Making art, making music, appreciating art and appreciating music; it is all SO good! This is the "stuff" we need to concern ourselves with. In this crazy covid world I believe we all need more art and more music in our daily lives! When we choose to bathe ourselves in the beauty of art and music, we experience once again the power of the present moment. Residing in the present moment allows for connection and interconnection! It supports and creates peacefulness. Residing in the present moment calms and builds resiliency. This is what we need. So once again I invite you to practice residing in the beauty of the present moment!
In Peace & Friendship,