There are times in our life when everything comes to a grinding halt: an event we did not predict happens and we have to set priorities. This week, my mom went into the hospital unexpectedly. This is usually an immediately stressful situation for anyone. How do we begin to manage our stress hormone cortisol level shooting up, quickened breath, stiff shoulders? How do remain calm, centered, and focused when we are faced with a fear-inducing situation? How can we better be there for the person in need without letting our own worries impede wellness? And, how can we not become short tempered with others around us at that time?
This is where the practice on the mat, must be utilized off the mat. To use a much worn yoga phrase: Take your yoga off the mat and into the world. This phrase seems to be getting a bad rap right now as trite, not useful. But, I think it is an apt idea. After all, our yoga philosophy and practice study have practical application in our lives.
The first step when faced with a stressful situation is to notice that it is happening and creating change in our system. So, becoming a witness to the event. If we can take just that one moment pause, it begins to create a little space to assess.
Then, another common yoga axiom: Take a breath. It does give us space for pause, but physically, it begins to calm the system with the longer, deeper exhale. You may need to take five or ten breaths.
Move from a place of gratitude. In looking at the situation, is there something you can be grateful for? In my own situation, my mom did not have to have surgery, they could find nothing seriously wrong, she just needed time to heal. I was thankful for that, though I did not want to see her suffering and unwell. That moment of gratitude allowed me to see that the moment was temporary, and I could better be there to support her with what she needed. She is home now, and recovering nicely.
The more I practice yoga and gain an understanding of the guiding principals and how to use the tools, the easier it becomes for me to pull out the right tool at the right time. Let me know how yoga has helped you in a time of need.