Peace beyond circumstances – balancing life in a pandemic.

In the midst of the pandemic, my full-time working husband has set aside time to watch our six-year-old after he finished his remote learning school day, so I can practice. I’m forever grateful and forever aware of how blessed I am.

And yet, days like today, when life seems like such a juggling act between work, home and health, my symptoms increase, including my chronic pain. Even after over a decade of practice, I sometimes find it too much to bear to sit with the pain. From day one, my practice has been to show up and stay. No matter what. But today, the exhaustion compounded with pain is leaving me taking a little longer to get to my mat. Distraction lures me in. I should stop to clean the bathroom sink and put away the laundry too. Maybe I could help get dinner started or start organizing the hall closet, like I’ve wanted to for weeks.

On days without flare-ups, I’m high tailing it to my yoga room. I can’t get there quick enough. I fly up the stairs, crank the sound machine up, promptly close the door and slip into my haven. Me time. Turn off the world time. It can all wait time. It’s much needed, always.

But today, I watch the desire to distract. I watch how I distract myself instead of feeling. I see it. I know I’m doing it. I snicker to myself. I know what to do. So, I ease myself into restorative Supported Reclining Modification and let out some deep breaths, once I get settled. My left middle fingertip touches my left thumb tip. My right ring fingertip connects to my right thumb tip for Vyana Vayu Mudra. I breathe; I settle in.

The past week, with the tension of the nation waiting for election results, I didn’t get much sleep. An invisible weight has lifted now that the election results are in. I feel lighter and more hopeful but also, more fatigued. I realized my body felt safer and therefore began letting go. As with any healing crisis, my body, mind and spirt want to heal through deep rest and processing. I knew I needed to make space for this healing. This needs my attention.

I needed to sit. I needed to stay. But not quite able to connect with the loudness of pain and extreme fatigue today, I used sound healing music. One of my favorite mindfulness meditation techniques is to listen. So, I listened to theta wave sounds, aligning my brain waves to those of relaxation, almost instantly. That way, I could focus on the sounds to ease around the pain and then into it, safely and effectively. As I dropped deeper into the pose, the events of the day replayed like a movie on a screen in my mind. Each occurrence being processed and sorted. To do lists. Planning. Past. Future. The mind churning. Then settling like sediment to the bottom of a sandy ocean. Each grain of thought fading away. I notice; I come back to listening; I find relief. I notice; I come back to listening; I find relief. I breathe deeper. I open my heart to the pain. I open my heart to myself. I know I don’t have to think now. I can always think after this precious time. I just have to listen. After a few moments, my breath slows. I notice muscles in my throat, neck and shoulders soften. My jaw unclenches.

I can now breathe with the pain. I can sit with it. Relaxation pulses through my body and the blaring sirens of sharp and dull aches lessen. My breath deepens. My connection within deepens. My pain is reduced. My energy centers flow freely, increasing circulation. I feel my nervous system making its way back to balance, which always lessens my symptoms. I remember my body knows relaxation. My natural state is ease. Because of my dedication to the practice, my muscles remember this deep state of tranquility. I’m at home within myself.

And because I practiced, I will get a better night’s sleep, which supports my body to have considerably less pain. A better night’s sleep helps me face tomorrow with hope and energy. I tell myself I can do this. I can make it through another day of this pandemic. I’m grateful for my practice. I’m grateful distraction didn’t win. I’m grateful I sat with it. I’m grateful for the small victory of finding balance in these moments. I found peace beyond the circumstances of daily life. I let myself rest. And because of that rest, I will be a kinder person, wife and mother tomorrow.