Yoga: Lost in Space, Shelter In Place
Intention: Grounding, finding center. Niyama: Svadyaya (self-study.) In light of the recent events of COVID-19, we may feel a little (or a lot) pulled off center. So many of us identify with our roles and responsibilities in our homes, our jobs and our communities. As these change, we may feel a little lost, anxious, or agitated. We had the steps down for the dance we were doing in our daily lives. Suddenly, someone changed the habitual steps we followed. It may be that our role has changed to being a teacher, or maybe the actual role of being a teacher has drastically changed. Some of us have more responsibilities, and others wish they could just keep the ones they had. After my husband passed away suddenly in 2012, I very much identified with Sandra Bullock's character in the movie "Gravity." In the movie, a team of astronauts was stuck in space with no spaceship (for a while,) and were uncontrollably floating around, anchored loosely to a main part of their ship by their umbilical-like spacesuit connections. Trying to feel grounded in this situation was near impossible. Oh, and by the way, they were showered by the debris of the other parts of their ship as it regularly came by, ripping them from their strongholds, and possibly cutting them to bits. Grief felt like that. All at once habits and identities which I anchored to in my day to day life no longer existed, and every now and then things would get greatly worse by situations I didn't see coming. Similarly, the COVID-19 virus has ripped us from our comfortable normality and who we perceived ourselves to be. This is when meditation becomes medicinal. Even a few mindful breaths can change our brain's chemical reaction from negative to positive. During meditation, focus on the breath, watch what the mind does during meditation, and just take objective mental notes. Then return to the breath. Getting to know how our minds behave in a non-judgmental atmosphere can help us to recognize those same patterns when we are not in meditation. In effect, meditation is "sheltering in place" with our own minds. We are returning to the focus on the breath over and over, returning to simplicity, returning to that core part of ourselves that is always there no matter what outside influences may have changed. Returning to that place where we can drop, even for a few minutes, the roles we play. At the end of the movie (spoiler alert!,) I rejoiced with Sandra Bullock's character as she returned to and kissed the earth, heaving a deep sigh of relief. Meditation can feel like that-a home within a home...a return to center, a return to our core selves, a return to being grounded.