There’s a saying that I’m sure you’ve come across, “Wherever you go, there you are.” We’re well into this social distancing season and for all the shifts and changes in my daily life, very familiar behavioral patterns are still following me around. Yep. There I am.
At the beginning of all this, I imagined that not really leaving the house would eliminate the bulk of time-sucking activities so that I’d have oodles of time left over. That sounded like a possible silver lining to this dark COVID-cloud, because when life is busy or stressful, I crave the counterpoint of open time. I need room in my day for practice, writing, and connecting with my family. But that’s not what happened. As soon as my household and I did the heavy lifting to adjust to living in Virus-landia, I unintentionally filled up my schedule. Turns out, busy-ness is one of the things I do when I feel uncomfortable.
We may find ourselves in this strange new world where people wear facemasks, we stand six feet away from each other, and everything else seems to happen on zoom, but our internal structures, the patterns that help us and the patterns that we aren’t proud of, don’t. The internal patterning that each of us has for coping with change and stress seem inextricably and overwhelmingly entangled with our best intentions. This makes it very difficult to merely choose or decide that the aspirational behavior will come out ahead. Most of us need something more than will-power. We need practices that can loosen the old patterns and help new ones to take hold.
Yoga gives each of us a way of working with our internal patterning. Yoga practice gets into some of the deepest and most fundamental patterns that we have – how we breathe, move, and think – and lets us work with those aspects of our being so that something else can emerge. When we work with the breath so that it is long and smooth, the body can feel steady and calm. When the body feels steady and calm, the mind reflects that. And when the mind and body are steady and calm, we have a chance at cultivating, maybe even choosing, a new pattern where we have space in our daily lives for practice, important pursuits and time with those we love, including ourselves.