We are offering a 4-week, 16-hour course (16 hours spread over 4 weeks) called “8 Simple Limbs of Yoga for a Simple Life”. This course is designed to teach and engage students physically, mentally, and spiritually as well as give a toolkit to navigate this particular moment in time as well as any that life may throw your way!
A very powerful thought came into my mind recently, and it has become my most essential mantra during the Covid-19 lockdown (also known as quarantine, self isolation, social distancing, shelter-in-place). This is a strange and difficult moment, there is no doubt about that. It feels as though our normal lives have been turned upside down. Sometimes it feels like we are reliving the same day over and over, not unlike Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day.
Everyone’s situation is slightly different — some of us are alone, others with people they may not want to be stuck with. Some of us may be in incredibly high stress situations. We are united in that all of us are giving up things that contribute to our livelihood: such as our work, our social lives, or our health routines. Many of us are stuck with our thoughts, and it’s easy right now for those to turn dark. It’s easy to get frustrated, sad, anxious, down, and annoyed. This is where this very useful mantra comes in: “Make of this situation an enjoyable experience.”
Consciously choose happiness
Mental health notwithstanding, sometimes people forget that having an enjoyable experience is a choice that we can make, not unlike choosing our clothes in the morning. Our thoughts are wont to carry us away, and in a situation like the Coronavirus pandemic that we are living through, those thoughts are much more prone to be of the negative variety.
There’s no getting around it — this is hard! It’s weird. It’s uncomfortable. We are collectively being challenged in a way we’ve never been challenged before. We are uncertain about the future, and many of us are questioning the decisions we’ve taken to get to this present moment.
Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean that we have to disregard these realities; the two can actually exist simultaneously. This is really hard, yet I am okay. It doesn’t have to mean you are happy, positive, or enjoying yourself all the time. That would probably be abnormal! But if you can train your mind and your reactions, you can have more positive experiences than negative ones. If you can do that, especially in a moment like this, you will both improve the moment itself as well as set yourself up for a sunnier future.
Have an attitude of gratitude
If you are reading this, you are lucky. First off, you can read — that is great news! You have a computer or phone — you are privileged. And an internet connection — many people on this planet do not! You have connections to individuals, entities, and movements outside of yourself. Without trying to describe each possible situation of every single reader, we can safely say that you have so much. Your life is not perfect, certainly. There may be aspects of your life that want to change. Honestly, this is a great time to ponder those changes, and start taking action on them. Actions like meditating, mastering your breath, yoga, and other physical activities are great places to start.
Your situation may not (objectively) be as lucky as other individuals, but it’s certainly a lot more than many. More importantly, you have the ability to choose. In choosing positivity, you will not only greatly improve your current situation (by simply changing the lens through which you are viewing your circumstances), but also your future situation. Positivity begets positivity.
A fun and useful challenge
For the next week, challenge yourself with this simple reflection exercise. At the same time every day for the next seven days — perhaps every morning when you wake, or every night before you go to bed — ask yourself: ”What am I grateful for today?” It could be the big stuff (health, financial security, family), or the little stuff (my cup of coffee this morning, the way the sunlight hit the trees outside my window, a funny meme someone sent to me).
Regardless of what you choose, you’ll notice that the more you focus in on the positive aspects and components of your life, the more the negative stuff will cease to seem so large, looming, and important. Ultimately, you may even be able to get to the point where you are grateful for chaos, hardship, and challenge — for the lessons they provide, and the growth you are able to obtain from them. But start small, and you’ll see that gratitude can indeed beat the blues.
Make small decisions to foster positive thinking
From Bodhi Surf + Yoga co-founder and yoga teacher, Pilar:
Recently, I was having a really hard day. I woke up deeply tired; with a sore body and an exhausted mind. I wanted nothing more but to collapse in bed all day! But, it seems life keeps throwing me blessings whether I am willing to receive them or not: my sweet daughter got me out of bed super early and we went for a walk. Yet I was still driven by negative thoughts, concentrating on how weak I felt. A little later, my dear husband said what a beautiful day it was, sunny, and fresh. It brought me back to this mantra: “Make of this situation an enjoyable experience.”
It made me realize how my thoughts were interrupting this beautiful experience that was unfolding before me. I realized immediately how lucky I was for being able to just be with my loved ones, to enjoy such a great morning. To be healthy, alive, and surrounded by love and freedom. It opened my eyes to the beauty of the present moment. This learning experience that we call “life” keeps teaching us in different ways that we are the sole responsible for our own happiness. I agree to the idea that we have no control over external situations, but we do have control over what we think and how we choose to experience every life event.
Turn towards the light
There’s no doubt that there is darkness in the world. Yet there is also light, and a lot of it. Make an active choice to turn towards the light. Not only will it allow you to notice the intricate detail of the beautiful fabric that makes up your life, it will also illuminate your path forward!
Co-written by Pilar Salazar + Adrianne Chandra-Huff