The holidays are upon us. Chanukah begins today, the Winter Solstice is just around the corner, as are Christmas, and Kwanzaa, as well as other holidays celebrated around the world during this time of year. The holidays are different this year. So much is different this year. It made me start thinking about routine and how it makes us feel comfortable and safe because we know what is coming next.

But, what is coming next? Routines have changed. I know that I cherished my pre-COVID routine of getting up early and practicing yoga and meditation before I jumped into my day. Once COVID came and we were ordered to stay home, my entire routine changed, and so I adjusted (& when I practiced yoga changed), but thinking it was temporary. Then, we were allowed to go out again, minimally, and I adjusted again. And now, very strict stay at home orders are here once again, and I am adjusting again. I now mostly do yoga while my son is in Zoom school because the longer the pandemic has gone on, the more he needs me there for him.

What do we do when the things that give us comfort and safety change? Losing your job because it is simply not allowed to be done during COVID has so many implications, financially, but also mentally. Working from home in isolation when you used to have people around you to touch base with and talk to. Being a parent and homeschooling your child while trying to also work. Taking care of others’ needs all of the time because you are all home all of the time. Wondering if your friend/family member/coworker/loved one who just contracted COVID will survive? The loss of those who have gotten ill. Managing your recovery from COVID if you have been sick. These (and more) are all things that we are dealing with. How do we continue in these “temporary” routines?

There are a lot of questions. But, for answers, I turn back to yoga. The place that has always brought me comfort. Yoga is more than just a physical practice. It is also a philosophy that helps bring balance to your life. Through this pandemic, I keep coming back to a few key ideas in yoga:

  • Ahimsa, which means non-harming or peace
  • Svadhyaya, which means self-study
  • Tapas, which means self-discipline
  • Ishvara Pranidhana, which means surrender

I move forward with an attitude of ahimsa, or peace. I do not harm myself or others, but instead choose actions that are kind and loving. This brings me to svadhyaya, or self study. When I notice that I am having feelings of self-doubt, judgement, despair, or shame, I banish the negative self-talk when I use self-study to come to my thoughts with an attitude of peace. I turn it around and appreciate myself as I am. No more and no less. Just as I am. Then, I come to tapas, or self-discipline. I must practice this compassionate thinking every single day. Just like I must exercise my body with asana, or physical practice, I also practice breathing, I also practice meditatation, and I also practice ahimsa and having kind thoughts and doing kind actions. Finally, I come to ishvara pranidhana, or surrender. I remember that I must surrender that which I cannot control. I am as I am in this moment. The world is as it is in this moment. I must surrender in this moment, otherwise the stress of living in “survival mode” will take over.

Maybe you’d like to think about how you can move forward with peacefulness in attitude & self-thought, and how you can practice this in your life as you surrender to each moment as it is. Notice how you feel.

May you have peace within,

Julia anjali mudra hands

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