What intense times these are! They do not seem to be letting up any time soon. Practices that we might have turned to occasionally to calm us down and return us to balance are now daily necessities. Without them, we are likely to be derailed from the work we are doing – on ourselves and in the world.
The war in Ukraine (all wars in general) and events like the recent school shooting are heartbreaking to bear witness to. They reveal such a disconnection from the sacred, from our mutual humanity.
Often, our first response is to find someone to blame. While this is a natural reaction, a part of the grieving process, the deeper work comes by recognizing the need to understand, integrate, forgive and heal. Ultimately, we must learn from what has taken place and forge a better way forward.
Through conscious communication, meditation and reflection, we can come to recognize the complexity of the human condition, we can cease ‘othering’ and achieve compassion for all those involved. This is the process of true healing, and it is available to all provided we are committed to this deep work.
May was Mental Health Month, and in many ways what we are experiencing now, is a mass mental health crisis. So many are feeling angry, disconnected, isolated, desperate, overwhelmed, or caught in delusions of grandeur. Our society lacks a the necessary web of support that would be there in any healthy society. More than ever, we are being Called to do the work of healing and integration, stand as an example of compassion and share with others how we got there.
It helps to understand what triggers us and why. We all have deposits of hurt, pain, shame, anger, resentments, etc. stored in our subconscious. These are the result of experiences in our life, events that happened that we were not able to properly process, or that created such pain that we pushed them “away”…deep down in our psyche. Patterns of thought, action and reaction are formed and they become triggered by external circumstances like what is happening in our lives now.
The Yoga tradition teaches us that we can dissolve these latent patterns by cultivating and sustaining a state of mental equanimity. Our happiness and peace depend on it.
Asana, Kriya, Breath and Meditation are key to this effort to establish inner equanimity in the face of intense external challenges. Asana brings us into our body. Coordinating breath and movement allows us to shift our focus from the spinning wheel of thoughts to relaxed awareness. Sometimes forward bends are just the ticket, getting the head lower than the heart and lengthening our exhale. However, if the mind and emotions are particularly caught up we need a stronger approach. This is where the practice of Kriya and vitalizing breaths can help.
We pump the navel with breath of fire, we move the body in swift dynamic ways that command our attention and begin to break up the dominant energetic patterns. This in turn starts to shift our emotional and mental state and we feel more spacious, alert and connected. We direct the energy to our heat and open ourselves to feeling gratitude which changes our vibrational state. We start to open to new possibilities that we had not seen before.
To take this deeper we practice specific pranayama (breath) sequences that further refine our energy and support our capacity to begin to witness our own mind.
This opens the door to the process of meditation where we watch our thoughts, we discern which ones are coming from deeper memories, versus the surface ones. We begin to investigate the root of those thoughts so that we can ultimately release them. In tandem with this, we begin to strengthen our capacity to focus our mind in a helpful way, with different meditation techniques. This creates a resilience in the mind, a tendency to want to focus and draw within, which helps to counter the thoughts stirred up by old unhelpful patterns.
What I have laid out is time tested, it is the beginning of creating a state of true freedom and fulfillment. It works, but you have to work it!
We no longer have the luxury as human beings to run around with our mind chasing the short lived pleasures like scrolling on our phone, high impact violent movies, mindless consumption, or the myriad of other distractions. We cannot afford to keep blaming others for the state of our world, we must take radical self responsibility and begin to re-pattern ourselves so that individually and collectively we can heal our past, and begin to create a new world.
I believe in us. I believe in the power of love latent within every human being. I believe that the force that created us is powerful beyond measure and that as soon as we align with this force miracles can happen.
We can all use a miracle right now.