Maintaining Equilibrium

Be Well Be Happy

Chances are nowadays, you may be feeling out of whack. We are not in our comfort zones even if we are safe and healthy. Too much uncertainty.

I would like to share some learnings from the kind and compassionate Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön which could give us some help to living right now and maintaining equilibrium. First one is a practice she calls “compassionate abiding.” 

I guided this in yoga class this morning and got great feedback. This practice uses the medium of the breath. We bring forth many breath practices in this column, because breathing in different ways really supports our health in body, mind and heart. It goes like this: sit and check in with yourself— what is the negative feeling that is there, whether it be right up front or a little hidden? Fear? Anxiety? A feeling of being on edge? Loneliness? Just identify one at this time as it is certainly possible that there are more than one nowadays!

Close your eyes. Begin to tune in to your natural breath, the rhythm of your natural breath, then begin to elongate the inhales and exhales so you are breathing deeply and fully. Then call up that negative feeling. Say to yourself: breathing in fear (or whatever it is), breathing out relief. Breathing in fear, breathing out relief. Repeat many rounds of this breath, feeling your body rise as you breathe in the difficult feeling, and gently fall as you breathe out relief. Then come back to your natural breath.  

Another Pema teaching is “collaborating with the world,” instead of resisting what is happening, especially now.  So much going on in the world, and in our United States. And these occurrences trigger difficult feelings like the ones mentioned above. So rather than resisting and not acknowledging them, holding the difficult feelings without panicking is her method, in a way, of collaborating with the world. 

It is OK to have difficult feelings. She asks us to allow that whole part of human experience and not try to shift away from the difficult parts.  This way of thinking is a powerful tool during these times. As she says, we are in a challenge zone. It is what it is. So why not hold the feelings, expand and then use the breath practice above for relief.  The relief is comforting and consoling but may not be permanent.  That is why we could accept Pema’s urging to allow ourselves to hold the difficult feelings, be with them and release through the breath.

This reminds me one of the Niyamas in our yoga philosophy "santosha,” which translated means “contentment.”  It is really about acceptance and embracing whatever our feelings and state of being are at this moment in time.  That’s where the word “contentment” comes in.  When we allow what is in our feeling body, a softening happens, and we get some relief. So, these are different ways of maintaining our equilibrium - a calmer state of mind. 

May you be happy. May you be free. May you be compassionate. May you be grateful. May you let go of things that do not serve you. May you have inner peace. 

By Paulette Mancuga 

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