6 Things To Do for Greater Balance
It's upsetting when things become so off-balance that even the government shuts down. On the mat, it often triggers a stream of un-conscious thoughts like, I'm not good enough, I'll never get this, this is sooo embarrassing... and the cycle continues to manifest in the body until we fall, or move on to another pose.
It's not all bad being off balance, however. To avoid falling, we (subconsciously) automatically activate muscles we don't usually activate, triggering our motor memory to teach those muscles what their purpose is when we revisit that pose later in our practice.
To be at peace, even in these challenging times, play with these six real-world ways of bringing about greater equilibrium. Who knows, the good vibes may reach the halls of Congress.
Log off, sit still.
These divisive comments (dividing ourselves from the union with our self) that creep into our consciousness during asana take shape as the "norm" in the political sphere too. You may begin to feel overwhelmed by constantly looking at such hatred, even if you are only participating in it passively (reading it, but not tweeting it).
Practice instead sitting in silence for 10 minutes with only the ambient sounds of what the environment provides -- yes, even if that environment is an urban one. Turn off the TV, music, phone, and add nothing to this noise but your breath. You'll feel refreshed enough to survive the shutdown afterwards.
Call someone and say something nice.
Quiet is not always golden. It helps to hear encouraging voices. After your 10 minute meditation, call someone you haven't spoken to in a while (a Senator, maybe). They may be hurting too, from the shutdown, and suffering in a non-self-imposed silence (overwhelmed by how it's affecting their household budget, for example). Use this as an opportunity to not wallow in the bad news.
Vent a little, but then think of something nice to say -- about them, yourself, or even the government (It's nice that the Military still got to watch the playoffs, right?)
Cook something new from what you have.
Necessity is the mother of all invention, the ancestors say. If things are looking like they'll be tight for a while, don't get stuck by these limits. Develop a new dish, like these vegan soups, from the ingredients you already have in your kitchen. And if you aren't feeling any restrictions in the pocket, still attempt this practice, it'll spark your creativity.
It feels oppressive when all things around you seem unstable, when you spend so much of your focus devoted to creating stability. Do your best to not let the issues compound. Problem-solve one thing (one bill) at a time. Take the weight of feeling overwhelmed off your shoulders by getting up (out of your chair, off the couch, out of bed) and move around with gentle stretching, a 30 second dance party, and/or outdoor activities.
Pigeon pose (eka pada rajakapotasana) is especially good for a day like #ShutdownMonday. It activates our parasympathetic nervous system -- our "rest and digest" system -- helping to balance our stress feelings of "flight or fight."
Update your ICE plan.
Being prepared (as if that's possible) is one of the best ways to put the mind/body at ease during stressful days. Add a dollar to that rainy-day fund, just so you know that it's there. Be sure your "In Case of Emergency" numbers are updated in your phone (uncontrolled stress may lead to accidents). And then create a new checklist: Free Hobbies I Love.
If it's visiting museums, walking in the park, doing crossword puzzles, or playing adult dodgeball, put it on that contingency plan of Things To Do When You Just Don't Know What Else To Do Now.
Read up on what happened and join a cause.
Okay, so maybe you're a professional activist and you don't want anymore newsletters in your inbox. Follow a hashtag on Twitter and show it some "Like," or re-tweet an opinion that resonates with you about what caused the shutdown. It's all connected -- employment, education, environment... We all need to be engaged to make this political process work, and there are just as many perspectives that may be explored in recognizing how to solve a political crisis. There may be an angle that you have yet to consider.
Once you gain this (re)newed understanding, repeat step one: log off.