Over the last two weeks, my husband and I constructed garden beds for the backyard. I’ve made meals and baked bread. I’ve organized and cleaned. I washed my hands again and again and I have cleaned some more. At the end of every day, I fall into bed sore and exhausted. The only time I sit still is during meals with my family and my morning yoga practice.
When the stress is high, it’s interesting to watch what I do. I try to stay positive. I definitely try to stay busy and I want to have something to show for my efforts. I tend toward tasks that engage my body and my mind so much that I can’t think about what I’m feeling.
I’d like to say that yoga practice brings me peace these days, but it doesn’t. What it offers is space and time to feel the feelings that come with this strange new landscape. It gives me the ability to be with the experiences that I’m having as a result of this time of unknowns, illness, intimate time with family and a sense of interconnectedness that spans the globe. Practice won’t fix the problems, but somehow breathing slowly and deeply provides the stable ground to be able to look at how lives, mine and others, are being effected. It reminds me of my body and the importance of this breath. And this one. And this one. When I practice, I can feel myself move with a river, centuries old, that flows with the human beings who have related to their precious breath in a sacred way and who sat and allowed themselves to be with what happened during their own difficult times. I’m held by the practice and then I have the presence to feel my fear, and to be with all the uncertainty. When I am not trying so hard to tamp it down and avoid it, I’m with it and there’s some freedom in that.
Looking at what we are going through honestly, compassionately and without judgment is a form of self-empathy. Acknowledging what’s actually happening internally and around us takes courage, but it does provide a comfort perhaps because it is grounded in reality. When we aren’t so busy with the avoidance-shell-game or stubbornly refusing to feel, we have capacity to be with what is. Really seeing can be intense, but at the end of the day, it isn’t as exhausting as trying to make it this pandemic into something it’s not.
Yoga practice isn’t bringing me peace, exactly, but it is encouraging grace and stability so that I can be alive to what is occurring within and around me. Yoga can give us the capacity to be with what is.
I sincerely wish that you and your loved ones are safe and cared for. If I can be of support, I hope you’ll reach out.