In the mindfulness yoga programs I teach children about their emotions. Not only how to identify them but also how to manage them. A private student of mine, a 7 year old boy, told me that feelings are sticky. I learned some incredible wisdom from that child because it is so very true. We rarely feel sad without some disappointment or anger or rejection or ____. Just as we rarely feel joy without a little anxiety, as in how long will this good feeling last.
Many of us adults never learned these lessons and so we ride the roller coaster of our day elated one minute that the kids are finally playing nicely together, to looking at the news and scared for your children’s futures, and overwhelmed the next because they are already asking for snacks and you just ate lunch. Why? Because we do not know what it means to not have a grocery store open. We don’t know what it means to say no to our kids or to ourselves when we realize running to the store every day to satisfy those bored munchies is unhealthy and even dangerous. Because maybe you never experienced being unemployed, or under insured, or the potential of bankruptcy should you have to go to the hospital. Because we never as a human race have experienced a collective shut down of daily life to this extent, avoiding all outside human contact and interaction knowing our life depends upon it.
Whew! That’s a lot of feelings to process!
Find a moment at the beginning or end of your day, hopefully both, when you can sit down alone with yourself and process all of this. Sit with a journal or notebook. Allow the mind and heart to release however needs to come out in words or drawings or poetry or whatever you find feels best for you. Know that it is okay to feel everything you are feeling. Never before have you been so NOT alone in your emotional response to this time because we are ALL in it together. Granted a single person living alone is have a far different experience than someone in an apartment with 3 kids but ultimately, all the feelings are there and it is okay. It is okay to cry, to scream into a pillow, to dance like a wild woman, to binge watch hours of Schitt’s Creek just because you need an escape and you need to laugh.
Try to make a time every day to write down what you are experiencing. Let the emotions rise up and sit with them. Close your eyes and notice the physical body, then notice the mind and let it be all that it is right now, then focus on the breath. Begin to really tune into the breath, slowing it down into long inhales and long exhales. Breathe into your abdomen and fill it up like a big balloon, lift that breath to your heart and deeply into your lungs, hold and then just as exaggerated, exhale. If you want to add a sound with the exhale do that. Sometimes letting out a good sigh feels great. When we tune into breath and breathe mindfully like this we calm the nervous system and boost our immune system while strengthening the lungs.
When we let our emotions rule us, when we ride the roller coaster of our day, we are operating from a mind that is often disturbed and cloudy, without clarity and calm we are more likely to lash out, to feel fragile, to panic. When we control the breath, tune into it, and sit with it we are able to ride the emotional waves with greater ease, so we can avoid dis-ease.
Fill your heart and mind in these sitting sessions with gratitude for all you do have. I am grateful for my health, for my family and friends, for the food I have, that I have ____.
Ensure you are also taking care of your physical health with daily hatha yoga, healthy meals, reaching out to others so you feel connection, and get outside every day for some activity whether its longer dog walks, a hike through the woods, or planting a garden in your yard.
My prayer is that when we begin to resume living our lives more actively again that we find ourselves healthier, more appreciative, and inspired to not return every again to that rat race we left behind.
Notice the classes Nitya Living is offering are not just a regular hatha or yin or kids or teen class but are specialized classes to support your emotional, physical and spiritual self during this crisis. I see these online classes as a path we can walk together out of the jungle of heavy, dark, emotions to experiencing greater peace, calm, and comfort.