I’ve learned a great deal about myself during lock-down. As a body-worker of 44 years, I am very aware of my physical well-being. As a yoga teacher of 44 years, I am very aware of my mental state and spiritual well-being. As a mother of 48 years, a grandmother of 23 years and a pet owner all my life, I am very aware of my emotional state. It is the latter that has most suffered during this period. Physical contact and physically expressed affection is a big part of who I am. I’m reminded of a horrible experiment perpetrated on monkeys some time ago. A baby monkey was removed from his mother by a glass screen. He could see her, he could hear her, but he couldn’t touch her. The baby monkey died. I have developed coping strategies, as we all have, but I’m aware of that emptiness within me and the ache that doesn’t go away. Humans need touch.
We talk about a story being ‘touching’. We say, ‘I was very touched by that gesture’. We reach out to touch someone when they’re upset. We instinctively touch clothing or goods that we’re looking to buy. During lock-down, I’ve noticed that I touch the plants in the garden. I touch the trees as I pass them. The more we are discouraged to touch surfaces in the world, the more we are discouraged to touch our faces while out and about, the more I need to touch the flowers and shrubs in my own garden.
Touch has two sides to it. The wholesome, loving touch with which I am familiar, and the touch that can spread infection. For me it has been a sobering lesson. Touch is essential for my well-being, but touch must be avoided to keep mankind well. My personal needs clash with my desire to help others. Mudras have been enormously helpful as I wrestle with this dilemma. The gentle pressure of the index finger against the thumb in chin mudra enables you to use touch to connect with higher good for all.
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti
P.S If there are any of my current yoga students who would like a weekly class, please do email me.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Putting personal political preferences to one side, perhaps you feel like I do. This government is doing its very best. It was dealt a very tough hand of cards. No-one has met a global pandemic like this before and Covid 19 is one determined virus! They’re not always right, but they are always trying to do what is right for all of us. We don’t have to agree with everything, but we also don’t have to be constantly, constantly criticising and undermining them. They’re brave to take on these jobs, and the panel who do the daily bulletins in Britain are particularly brave. There they stand, they do their opening comments, cover their subject clearly and comprehensively, and then the press start with their ‘questions’. The ones from the public tend to be sensible and heart-felt. The ones from the press are less questions and more direct attacks – I call it carping, some call it sniping, it’s negativity upon negativity. With enormous patience, the panel respond. They repeat over and over what they’ve already said – it becomes a mantra.
I was the Chairman of a well-known yoga society for five years. I didn’t want to be surrounded by ‘yes men’, but I did need the occasional acknowledgement that I was doing a good job. I needed to feel that someone was on my side, and that they fully recognised that I was doing my best for everyone. Taking difficult decisions which deeply affect others’ lives is daunting. Support is essential…
I often see young parents out with toddlers who have just hit the tantrum stage. I always make a point of saying, ‘You’re doing a great job’. You see their shoulders drop, their faces relax, and their breathing change. Just to have someone understand, acknowledge, be on your side is HUGE. Parents, chairpersons, politicians are not always going to be right. Of course they’re not. But they are going to do a much better job if they don’t feel they have to defend themselves from the whole world. GIVE THEM A BREAK!
Yoga means union. It means yoking. We’re all in this together and we all want what is best for the Earth, for mankind, for all the creatures on the planet. Please let’s pull together. Please believe and trust in goodness, in positivity, in love. As with the clapping for the N.H.S. on a Thursday evening, let’s unite in sending support, appreciation and goodwill to all those in the Government who are literally damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Let’s beat this thing and LEARN. We do much better when we work together, when we co-operate than we constantly pull in the other direction…
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti
There has long been a reluctance in the Western world to talk about death. This pandemic has changed that and I do believe this is a positive step. Each day we have an update on the number of people who have died from Corona virus. We must look that squarely in the face. Death is ever present, grieving is ever present, letting go is part of life. That doesn’t make it any less painful when it’s one of your dear ones who passes to Spirit World, but having faith is helpful. Yogis believe that death is promotion. We have completed the lessons that we were here to learn this time. We move back to Spirit World and we reunite with loved ones who have gone ahead of us.
Shakespeare in Richard the second said it’s time to ‘talk of graves, of worms, of epitaphs’. The virus is with us for a long time and there will be more deaths. Can we accept that and handle it gracefully? Can we think more deeply about our own mortality? Can we love folk over to Spirit World? That would be my personal wish – to be loved at that moment of expiring. To be loved across the bridge…
There is an epitaph on a grave in a cemetery in Washington. It’s from 1913 and it says, ‘Writer. Mentor. Wit. Beloved.’ What more could anyone desire? We live on in our loved ones. We live on people’s memories. V.E.day last week proved just how much we can respect, love and value those people who have lived with courage and dedication. A life well lived…a life filled with compassion, kindness, courtesy. Here is a lesson form this crisis and I’m put in mind of a saying from The Shakers: ‘Live everyday as though it is your last, and as if you will live for one hundred years.’ Wise words…
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti
We’re living in unsettled times. Life, for many of us, is suspended. And now we feel all the suspense connected with the release of lockdown. How will they go about it? What will we be allowed to do? Will we feel safe?
This has been a crisis like no other, and feelings of insecurity and uncertainty are natural. We all need to process this in our own way, and in our own time. I’ve planned a yoga class on the abdomen for my weekly students this time. Every time you strengthen the abdomen, you gain emotional stability.
It seems to me that we need inner balance, emotional stability, and great strength of purpose to ensure that we move forward in the right direction. We need to have learned all the necessary lessons. We’re reaping deep global karma, and if we don’t heed the lessons, the cycle will be repeated.
The slower pace of life which most of us have been forced to adopt has given us time for reflection. How can we adjust our old life to better serve the planet? How can we adjust our old life to better serve all creatures, not just man? How can we remember to care for others, to have compassion for all? Will we continue to focus on the vulnerable and the elderly?
We’re getting through this crisis by pulling together. This is yoga – being united. Let’s determine to remember always that we are guests on Mother Earth. We are not the masters. As we’ve dearly missed our own loved ones during this time, let’s remember that it’s people and love that we’ve missed. It isn’t material things, it’s hugs and laughter, and contact. Mother Earth need us to go on loving her; to go on considering her; to give not to take…
She has shown us how. Are we strong and steadfast and able to learn the lessons? If not now, when? She has shown all the patience of a mother, and now we must respectfully hear her voice. We must, finally, grow up.
OM Shanti Shanti Shanti
I’m a great believer in collective meditation. The Sivananda Institution launched this initiative many months ago. On the first Sunday of every month they have asked for a global meditation to take place to nourish the Earth. It’s tomorrow at 1p.m U.K. time, 2p.m French time etc. We chant OM NAMO NARAYANAYA out loud for 15mins, then silently for a further 15mins. Focus on sending nourishment, healing and support to the Earth…
Please join in…
Love, light and blessings,