Reining in the COVID19 Panic
I'm in a state where there are a lot of closures and quarantines and I am witnessing businesses in the fitness industry not abide by those state mandated regulations to close. This starts to reinforce the bitterness I have that "fitness" =/= "health" and culminates images and brands the exact same way as the beauty industry -- to make you feel guilty and bad about yourself, your finances, and your abilities for not dedicating everything you have to be lean and muscular.
There are a ton of online options for working out at home. Everything from HIIT to yoga to Pilates. I have a YouTube channel as well. Please subscribe.
Principle Number One in Yoga: Ahimsa! Do no harm!
I have a new talk on Insight Timer about this which includes a LovingKindness practice at the end. My Insight Timer tip jar is open.
Dharma Talk: Saucha and the Coronavirus
Summary: A talk regarding how we can experience feelings of panic, anger, and fear in times of crisis such as the global coronavirus outbreak. This expresses that your feelings are valid and there are safer and healthier ways to work through them than to give in to rage or inhumane treatment of others. This talk explains a little about Yoga Saucha (purification & cleanliness) and various ways to implement this practice to help you attend to your hyperaroused emotions. It ends with lovingkindness mantra.
Namaste. I’m Amber Love. Let me welcome you to this talk as a yoga teacher and not a doctor. If you show signs of a cold, immediately go seek your doctor for testing.
What can we in the yoga community do to alleviate the panic, fear, anxiety, and depression of the global epidemic. First of all, you may have noticed a lot of public spaces like schools and libraries having to close. Independent yoga teachers often teach in diverse places like churches and libraries and schools or even rec centers – we’re not always in pristine yoga studio with aromatherapy diffusing and ambient music. You might hear all kinds of disturbances when you practice in non-studio spaces. What you may not know is that a lot of the teachers are paid per student – meaning if there’s no class, they have no income. That doesn’t at all mean places should be staying open to cater to our needs for income. Yoga is a mere drop in the bucket of industries affected. Restaurants, art galleries, and even comic book conventions are closing and postponing their events. This first point I’m trying to make is that you are not alone though you may begin to feel isolated.
Secondly, if you are able to get to the store for cleaning and hygiene products, food, and medicine, PLEASE DO NOT HOARD those items. That 100 count of face masks you bought probably won’t do you any good anyway. They are for people who have the symptoms and are positive for coronavirus to prevent them from spreading it not as a way for healthy people to keep from getting it. Hoarding means there is less for others. It’s classist, which often also means ableist, racist or some other bigotry because people are only thinking of themselves and not of humankind.
In Yoga, we have the jewel of Saucha which means purification, purity, or cleanliness. This can be broadly applied or literal. As Deborah Adele says in Yamas & Niyamas, “Saucha invites us to purify our bodies, our thoughts, and our words.” Those are things I invite you to consider when you sense this virus panic taking over. Are your thoughts so selfish you think you’re the only one who is entitled to by a 24-pack case of hand sanitizer?
We must include purification of our toxic thoughts in the practice of Saucha if we are going to get through this pandemic together and come out the other side.
Another one of the options is to purify the tongue – spend even one day speaking no untruth, speaking harm, spreading unverified information. We know the data will change every day that more and more people of more diverse populations are allowed to be tested. Purity of your words can save you the energy of anger and rash decisions or lashing out. Allow the purity of words to gently guide you to one part of the loving-kindness metta bhavana ritual: May You Be Healthy; May You Be At Ease. Think of those people out there, your neighbors, people around your state or your country or the world and send those wishes to them even if you dislike them. May You be at Ease. May You be Filled with Lovingkindness.
That anger will otherwise weigh you down and cause physical symptoms to appear like tight muscles in your back or chest pains, throbbing veins in your head.
Find the purity in your relationship starting with those farthest in your orbit. Can you wish people around the world peace and ease from their suffering?
Bring that orbit closer. Can you wish people in your region or city peace and ease from suffering?
Can you find your orbit surrounding your business or small town community and offer good thoughts of compassion to them to have peace and ease of suffering?
Can you find it in yourself to find peace and ease of suffering?
As you practice lovingkindness, you may notice that mental clarity finds its way to the surface of the prefrontal cortex. You can think logically again without the unthoughtful reactions of panic, rage, and fear. You can figure out that may you only really need one bottle of rubbing alcohol and your normal weekly supply of toilet paper.
If you have been hoarding, I implore you to please consider donating to a local food bank or program for the homeless. You don’t need enough for an army. You need only enough for your household.
Deborah Adele says, “Whatever term we use, purity asks that all of us be in one place at one time. And that means that our head and heart are unified, our thoughts, actions, and speech are congruent, and we are in the present moment.”
You are allowed to feel the panic sensations in your body. You are allowed to process them in safe and healthy ways. When people say, “Don’t panic!” it’s shorthand for the much longer sentiment of “Hold on. Slow down. Allow yourself to find the way to think with clarity and then take steps to resolve your issue.” “Don’t panic” is the first thing we learn in CPR and First Aid training. Someone has to keep their head together and be able to calm the crowd, assign people to carry out supportive tasks, and then take the lead to address the person in crisis.
This is that time. You may not have medic training, but you have the ability to apply this technique. “Slow down. Find your way to clarity. Organize your thoughts into a productive set of tasks. Assign help as needed.”
I’ll end with the quote from Mark Nepo: “A wholehearted society tries to honor and join the seemingly separate citizens that live within it. Wholehearted integrity is inclusive, a matter of welcome and congruence.
Let’s seal our time together with some lovingkindness:
May [I/you/all beings] be happy.
May [I/you/all beings] be free from suffering.
May [I/you/all beings] open my/your heart to compassion.
May [I/you/all beings] be filled with lovingkindness.
- first we direct our lovingkindness to ourselves
- then think of someone you care about
- then think of a neutral person you don’t even know but maybe spotted while you were out at the store or going to work
- then think of someone with whom you experienced a conflict
- then broaden to include everyone everywhere
I hope this talk has helped you find some peace and ease in a time of crisis. Blessed be.