What I love about yoga, is whatever the enquiry, whatever the question, it provides you with a guidance. Not exactly an answer, not a cure, not a recipe but a guidance, so if you choose to follow, you carve your own way to finding an answer. Sounds too vague to be taken seriously? Then think of what is the “truth”, what is “happiness”? It is an ongoing, evolving discussion, a debate and everyone sees these things through their own eyes.
The same goes for feeling low, feeling down, feeling unhappy. Even within the parameters of our own lives the same thing may affect us differently in different situations, on different days.
The nature of our existence is fickle. Our response to life challenges is driven by so many elements locked within our body and mind. One day we stand fast and we are deeply anchored, facing bravely the most immense tornadoes, the next day the the smallest breeze has a capacity to tear our sails apart. What do we do then???
We all have our coping mechanisms and self-preservation “red alert” procedures that have evolved over the years. Some of them more or less healthy.
Well, if you are reading this article, it’s a sign that you may be open to exploring some more of them. Just like you can never have too many friends, there is no such thing as too many methods of “how to remain sane”.
Observations and attitudes that I have accumulated through the practice of yoga and meditation have given me a lot of strength and helped me to navigate through some rough waters and tough storms. This also seems to be the case with many of my friends and students, who have shared with me what was left of their battles.
Here are my three emergency procedures. Kind of the same, yet with a different outcome every time:
- “Pity party” celebration.
May not sound very yogic at first, but at least it cracks a smile, does it not?
If you give yourself permission to sit quietly and feel sad, or angry, you allow yourself to be what you are: a human being. We are equipped with feelings, emotions and hormones that are part of our makeup. To what extent they are right or wrong in a given situation is another debate. Just allow yourself to feel, to experience, to immerse yourself in whatever you are going through. Living, feeling and experiencing your emotions will let your mind process them there and then. We are so used to holding everything in and letting it boil inside. Let things be real, raw, true to the moment. Just let them be, for a change.
- May breath be your anchor.
Your breath. Always there, always accessible. Your true anchor.
Especially when we worry ourselves mercilessly about the past or the future, we need grounding, we need a direct link to the present moment and we need it pronto! Even though the logical brain knows that there is nothing we can change about things that happened or nothing we can do about what lies ahead, the train of thought takes us on a journey into the land of “what ifs” and what’s next”. The present moment is all we’ve got. If you can, close your eyes and feel, really feel your breath in the nostrils. That comforting touch of breath gliding in and out through the nostrils. However deep or erratic your breath may be, just pay attention to it for a moment. Stay with it for at least ten breaths and as you come out, be aware of that sense of clarity, the subtle distance between your mind and the rest of the world. Be in the present moment. Keep calm and carry on.
- “This too shall pass”
Although the proverb is said to be of Persian origin, it taps into the true nature of things: the ever-changing nature of the universe. Everything changes, everything moves. Nothing stays the same. This gives us hope when we feel down and makes us humble when we are content.
Be what you are. Be present. Things change.
Breathe and smile.
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