What was 2020, if not a test of resiliency. After I started writing this post, Ontario announced another lockdown. Here we are again – another test! This pandemic has thrust us into some of the biggest changes and challenges of our lives and despite our many differences, we are contending with many of the same fears and hurdles. What has helped you through this time?
Through my greatly narrowed window to the outside world, I have marvelled at the fortitude and ingenious ways we have continued to find joy and support. Resiliency is a term that can be defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. We practice yoga to increase the resiliency and adaptability of our body and mind. This work helps us determine what is useful and to discard what is not helpful.
Uncertain times test our perseverance and resiliency. We see individuals donate to the food banks, and those who never needed food assistance before, now use the food bank. We have theatre online, work and school online, grocery online, doctors online, and community groups online and socially distanced. More people took to camping and spending time in nature. We made nests of our homes and we continue to find brilliant and creative ways to adapt. Many like me found support in nature, in family, and online. I Skyped, Facetimed and Zoomed to keep connected. I enjoy solitude but I needed to see my family, my friends, clients and students. Humans need contact. Pandemic or not, life will always be a rollercoaster of joys and sorrows and the practice of resiliency is vital to ride the highs and lows.
During times of hardship, we often will put our head down and barrel through the tough times until we feel our circumstances change. We ignore how we are truly feeling. Listening and respecting how we feel, both good and bad, is a part of resiliency. Without respecting and listening the entire breadth of our feelings and experience, we are not whole or resilient. We are denying and there is no way to move from our current situation and we risk being further entrenched and stagnant. The experts have many different ways to explore adaption and resiliency. Yoga too has many concepts. Here are a few to ponder.
Brahmacharya: Broadly, Brahmacharya can be considered “wise use of energy”. It is a Yama, or a restraint as detailed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Wise use of energy – what does that look like for you? Take a moment to consider the direction of thought energy and physical energy. Is it serving you? How is it helpful and can it make of greater use of the mind and body elsewhere?
Vairagya: Vairagya translates to dispassion. It is doing everything that needs to be done (think best practices) and not concerning ourselves solely with the results of the outcome. Think about a marathon runner concerned more about winning a race than determining the proper training and engaging in the appropriate practice to achieve their best in the race. Logically, we know that planning and training is key. It is being in the moment and letting go of expectation. Vairagya or dispassion allows us to concentrate on the productive practice and release the worry and grasping of the results. Here we can enjoy the process and each small moment, and we can apply this to all the aspects of our life.
Kama: Kama is desire, wish, love, pleasure or affection. When hardship comes our way, it is easy to forget and forego the joys and desires of life. For example, we forget that going for a walk in the moonlight makes us feel joyful. Kama is considered one of the four aims of life known as the Purusartha. Find time to spend focused on Kama, our wishes and our loves. We must ponder our deepest desires. Consider the senses, and what would pleasure them. Think smells, sights, touch, hearing, and taste. Think dance, music, tasty food, touch and affection, working with wood or wool, joyous smells, inspiring and awe making views and vistas. It could be painting, hiking and smelling pine trees, cooking, companionship, reading a story and noticing how old paper smells. Find small joys and experience glimmers of light and even make that light ourselves when we are burdened with a sea of darkness. Remain open to joy.
The practice of yoga allows space for us to be aware of the uncomfortable feelings and sensations and to also encourage change and the open the door to experience small joys. In our journey, may we continue to ask for help and give help. May we find space for our feelings and notice where we feel most comfortable and take time there. May we rest in resiliency in our deepest driving desires.