When everything is uncertain, everything that is important becomes clear. Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon lately? To me this rings truer than ever before. As we sit here in the midst of a global pandemic with our collective health at risk and our collective financial future uncertain, it would be warranted to be holding your breath in wait…. At least I find myself doing as much. What will happen? How long can our interconnected and interdependent society endure? And yet, here we sit, in our homes, leaving occasionally like an animal at the bottom of the food chain, scurrying around to accomplish our tasks to hurry home. Here we sit, watching, waiting, commiserating.
Some people are predicting a long period of isolation and others are optimistically reporting that May or June may see the world begin to turn again. Some people were warning of the Corona Virus as early as December 2019, some people still don’t have any worries and consider this to be overblown by the media, some people are taking every precaution and are following the worst-case-scenario advice, some people… With so many different points of view, and different sources of information, each with a varying degree of legitimacy, how can we each weigh the evidence and proceed forward according to our own life? I would like to offer a suggestion: yoga. I know, I know, that was predictable, the yoga teacher preaching about yoga again. Please bear with me on this one, it’s not going where you think it might. In the practice of yoga, at its most fundamental level, we are using every single breath to find a middle ground, to negotiate between two opposing points of view: length vs, depth, the challenge vs. peace of mind, strength vs. stretch, discomfort vs. comfort. To find the validity of the opposing point of view in the pose is what we strive for, it’s what we practice for. We use the breath as the great mediator, the neutral and neutralizing force, to navigate our way through the maze of internal pandemics which may arise during a long and difficult practice, a practice that brings us right to the edge time and again, so that we may look over the edge, but hopefully not fall over the edge. At the edge is where we gain the most awareness. Like the pandemic which brings us to our edge we are afforded some clarity as to “what is important.” The art form is to peer over the edge, but not to fall over.
If there is one thing I have learned through this experience that has been not to look too far ahead. We all have that need, that want, for security; but, aside from this single breath, what is secure about human life? Perhaps it’s this desire for security which has us wrapped in a blanket of fear rather than optimism. What is the silver lining? I’ll give you one observation: I have two highly social friends who have said that this time has been very peaceful as their days are usually filled with social obligations. These friends relayed to me the peace they feel being at home and working towards their goals free from distraction and free from the feeling of social obligation. Viola! The silver lining!
The past is regret, the future is anxiety, the present is freedom. Analogously, your last breath is regret, your next breath is anxiety, this breath is freedom! And so, I am encouraging each person reading thus far to take a moment to breathe deeply. Close your eyes for a moment, sit with your breath, follow your breath from the tip of your nose into your belly, and fill up your lungs into your upper chest and then repeat that five times. At the end of five of those breaths, blink your eyes open and tell me you don’t feel more calm and more centered. The storm around you didn’t change, but the storm inside you was quieted for a moment, allowing you to maybe, just maybe, find the sweet middle ground between all the opposing opinions swirling around you. If you’d like to deepen this breathing practice, I have a new meditation linked in my videos section (with a breathing exercise and a visualization) led by me. Namaste, have a great day!