It seems my yoga practice is showing up right in front of me over this past month and a half somewhat more than usual.
In times like these I’m grateful for this faithful friend that gives me the ability to step back and witness all that’s happening in this sometimes over-analyzing mind of mine – even if it takes a few stages to get there. One thing is true, the Yamas and Niyamas have been almost like neon signs flashing in my eyes as I navigate life during this pandemic, assuring me that they’re still open for business, showing me the variety of ways they support and serve me.
Ahimsa and Asteya
There have been days where I felt like I was on a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions, like during a grocery shopping trip during which I was, admittedly, on edge. My witness got one foot stuck in a tangled-up tailspin of thoughts and emotions – particularly fear, worry, and guilt. Ahimsa and Asteya screamed “look at me” as I watched myself picking up comfort foods that I don’t regularly buy, while at the same time wondering if I was taking too much and admonishing myself for buying it at all.
The two said hello again in the checkout line of another store where I had only a few things and kindly (albeit emphatically) declined a generous gentleman’s attempt to pay for my order. Ms. Witness totally tripped and fell down when the man questioned me after I said “that’s not necessary, no thank you,” with confusion likely all over my face. You see, in that moment, with all of my emotions spinning, I couldn’t explain that accepting his offer somehow felt like I was taking from others who needed it more. Even though, looking back, I also felt horrible for taking away his opportunity to help someone.
Tapas taps me on the shoulder over and over, nudging me to use this time at home to get working on the long list of projects I seem to keep putting off. I find myself thinking that although there is more flexibility in my schedule, it’s a struggle to make the time while still virtually doing my full time work as an educator along with the variety of part time work I do.
I feel frustrated by this, but I know I want and need to give myself some down time and my eyes some social distance from the screens. And where does my asana practice fit in here when the classes I want to take are on a computer, too? Perhaps I need to rethink how I manage this flexible schedule and dedicate time to cultivating my own self-directed practice and spending some time using pencil and paper to draft my projects.
Ishvarapranidhana pops in to say “it’s me” all the time as I listen to my family tell me about what they’re doing. I hadn’t seen them for a long time even before this, and I have gotten myself all worked up about what they’ve shared. I have spent a fair amount of time watching myself chase a story my mind has fabricated, thinking “what if…?” I’ve spoken my thoughts, feelings, and suggestions, wondering if that’s welcome. Ultimately, I have to surrender and trust that all will be as it should be and remember that I have no control over anything but my own response. I know there is much to gain from this letting go.
I have also learned to release the belief that I’m a complete extrovert as Svadhyaya steps up. Throughout all of this, I’ve seen and heard many expressing how bored they are, how they wish they could be back to their typical day-to-day activities, and how much they want things back to “normal.” Without judgement and with much empathy for each individual’s situation, I send love and light to everyone who is feeling this way, yet, I notice the contrast as I contemplate my own feelings, which are surprisingly the opposite. All the while, I am here, alone but not lonely, completely enjoying this time in my home and seriously settling in to this slower paced “new normal.” Of course I don’t like the reason we’re here, but we are, and I’m okay.
The witness steps back and smiles here, curious, not caught up in anything, and says “This is so interesting!” I look within and consider that maybe I’m actually an introverted extrovert or even an extroverted introvert. There is always something new to learn about myself.
Right here, in my quiet contemplation there is no worry, no fear, no guilt and no shame about any of these stages I’ve passed through. I take a deep breath, and Santosha sets in.