- The past few weeks have been a whirlwind with scares of Coronavirus rising and the related impacts
- In the face of unpredictability, practice and repeat living the core value of stability
- I'm sharing a stability focused yoga practice here and guided meditation here!
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind with scares of Coronavirus rising and the related impacts – schools closing down, events cancelled, stock markets tanking…plus you know, life. So in the face of pandemonium, or just an unpredictable day, what can we do?
We all value steadiness because all human beings value feeling safe but, steadiness is not control over life, it is not a predictable future, and it is not to be abused or misused as guise for perfectionism. Life is beyond your control but you can learn to face the ever-changing flow of life with a peaceful heart. Imagine how you would feel when uncertainty takes ahold of your day and you respond with agility and dignity. Imagine the ripple effect you’d create across your friends, family, or co-workers when chaos arises and you gracefully refuse to get angry, flip out, freak out, or otherwise unhinge everyone with your manic, fear-based thinking.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the great Buddhist teacher, tells the story of his escape from Vietnam, “when the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.” You too are capable of this. It takes diligent practice, the willingness to change habits and behaviors, and the courage to move away from addictive emotions, but I promise, it’s worth it and you can do it.
The core value of stability is an invitation to cultivate peace in your body and heart no matter what arises. As you navigate challenge, move through unexpected transitions, or confront change, you trust that stability is a skill you can strengthen, like any muscle in your body. Throughout this practice you have a choice: evenness of body, breath, mind, and emotion is always present if you are willing to see it. Your ability to be truly present to whatever arises in any given moment is the pathway to greater happiness and fulfillment. Knowing that like all things stability is a practice, you approach yourself and the journey ahead with both love and compassion.
If you’ve practiced being overwhelmed most of your life, it will take practice to cultivate steadiness. Studies demonstrate when you pair a new attitude, such as steadiness, with a heightened emotion, such as gratitude or joy, your brain hardwires new connections so that you memorize this behavioral shift and can repeat it again in the future. Practice and repeat. Fail and try again.
If it helps, you can practice repeating the stability mantra when you notice yourself becoming stressed, anxious or otherwise imbalanced. Inhale, “I draw calm into my mind.” Exhale, “I breathe out with ease.” You can say this mantra out loud or silently 3 times. Then, call in a heightened emotion such as joy, love, or gratitude. Try bringing a very slight, almost imperceptible smile to your face for several breaths and soak in the joy, love, and gratitude for the goodness you are calling into your life. Whenever you have some additional time, also try my 45-minute stability focused vinyasa yoga flow here and 10-minute equanimity guided meditation here.
Stability is not a suggestion for spiritual bypass. Equanimity is not to ignore the pain and sorrow of life. It is however the idea that you can increase awareness of your habitual emotional reactions and learn to observe your less useful thoughts without putting energy behind them. The only thing you have to lose is an old way of being in the world. As the Dalai Lama says, “some of your thoughts do not have your best interest in mind” so ask yourself, “how would greatness live today?”
*Edited from The Core Value of Stability *