“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” -Marianne Williamson
One translation of the words hatha yoga is “the union of the sun and the moon”. The sun and moon are not only astronomical realities. They are also archetypes: energies that live within each of us. Some of these energies are solar in nature and others are lunar. When our solar and lunar natures are balanced, we are in a perfectly integrated state called Yoga.
This week we in the northern hemisphere will celebrate the spring equinox. At the spring equinox, day and nighttime hours are the same length. The sun and moon are in perfect balance. On this very special day we celebrate our emergence from winter’s time of solitude and step into spring’s vibrancy.
At least, we would under normal circumstances. Today our experience is very different. Indeed, the seasons are shifting, but instead of stepping outside and into the company of friends and loved ones, we are being asked to stay inside to avoid the spread of the COVID 19 outbreak. It is at times such as these that we most need to embrace spring’s gift of hope.
Cultivating hope in times of crisis.
Hope is an active, healing force. Having hope does not mean that we simply wish, or even pray, that things were other than they are. Hope requires something of us: acknowledgement of the way things are, the intention that they could be better, and the action to bring about change.
We live in a beautifully flawed world surrounded by beautifully flawed people. Acknowledging the way things are means that we accept that we are not perfect and that perfection is not our goal. The ultimate aim of yoga is the cultivation of a calm steady mind. The inner stillness we tap into through our practice allows us to make good and healthy decisions for ourselves and our communities. Therefore, the first step of cultivating meaningful hope is to acknowledge that some things, sometimes, feel really hopeless. Active hope means we energetically engage in pursuits to bring about healing.
Healing is the process of becoming healthy again. Healing practices such as yoga do not make us whole and complete. We are already whole and complete. We are born whole and complete. Healing is not a process of becoming something we aren’t already. It is a return or remembrance of that which we already are. In order to heal, we must take action. For that action to be beneficial, we must have a vision. It is our vision and the willingness to work towards it that gives us hope.
Hope is born when we actively participate in healing solutions. It is all too easy to fall into patterns of negativity: denial, cynicism, and apathy are all products of disconnection. As we are being asked to take necessary precautions through physically distancing ourselves from others, it is vital that we make an extra effort to engage with others mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Beyond time and space, ultimately, we are One. We are never, ever alone. Now more than ever, let us be empowered with the awareness that everything we do matters. Therefore, let us allow Love to be the guiding force of every thought we think, word we say, and action we take.
Ways to be an active, hopeful force in times of crisis:
- Realize that we already ARE an active, hopeful force in times of crisis! The only thing we have to do is remember that. As we stay connected to our yoga practice, we will be able to tune-in to an inner guidance that will inform us of the next right action available for us to take if we are willing.
- Take care of ourselves. Our bodies are sacred vehicles through which Love is able to act in this world. It is critical that we do what we can as we are able to care for our bodies. This includes things like exercise and nutrition. Some exercise facilities have had to close their doors, but if we are feeling well, we can still go for walks and pick up a pair of free-weights. We may have to make some modifications to the foods we are accustomed to, but we can still make great decisions when it comes to nutrition. There is no ban on fruits and veggies!
- Take care of each other. Social distancing may mean that we can’t go out to Heine Bros for Saturday coffee with friends. However, we can schedule a coffee date and meet over Zoom or Skype! Find a text buddy! Text buddies are two people who commit to checking in with each other at least once a day until this crisis subsides. To combat anxiety, depression, and loneliness, it is critical that we find ways to stay connected to other people.
We may be socially distancing, but we can still make a difference in the lives of those around us. If we have friends, neighbors, and acquaintances who are particularly susceptible to depression and loneliness, such as those who have limited internet access or who don’t know how to use tools such as Zoom or Skype, we can be of service by making an extra effort to reach out to them. Some people do not feel comfortable with online communication. Why not regularly drop a letter in their mailbox so that they know they are loved and not forgotten?
- Stay close to our spiritual practice. If we don’t have one already, let’s use this time as an opportunity to create a morning ritual. First thing in the morning, before we even look at our phone or inbox, let’s sit quietly for five minutes, close our eyes, and focus on our breath. Then write down three things we are grateful for. Let’s find the stillness within us and devote ourselves to being of service. When we open our eyes, we will be much better prepared to navigate whatever the day may bring with love, grace…. And hope.