As every single person in the US and really in the world is facing this pandemic. A lot of emotions are whirling around. Many people are really struggling with how different life is today versus what life looked like 2-3 weeks ago. Others are struggling with the unknown of what life will look like in the coming weeks or months, or even beyond.
Everyone had plans, ideas of what was coming up in their life, things to look forward to, etc. It can be very hard to let go of what we had planted in our mind and come to terms with what is. For some this pandemic may mean the end of their business, for high school seniors it means that the end of their senior year has just been cancelled, for some it means no income, and for some it means putting themselves and their families at risk for their job and for the greater good.
I experienced something similar when my father was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer. All of a sudden everything I had believed in my own mind about what the future might look like in relation to him was different. As the weeks ticked on each week brought a new reality until we were saying good by 6 weeks later.
A concept that I have found useful to practice as a way to prevent suffering and face my own habits, beliefs, and patterns is Vairagya. Vairagya is most often defined as non-attachment. As it relates directly to the practice of Yoga this concept asks you not to be attached to the fruits of your practice. To practice and have faith that the practice will do as it is intended to do whether it manifests in the way you thought it would or not. Apply this concept to everyday life and it invites you to not grasp and cling so tightly to your ideas, desires, and beliefs.
So as you move forward in these uncertain and potentially frightening times use your practice to support you. With your own awareness, notice how you are responding. For example, to "social distancing", to the news reports, notice what your habits seem to be right now, notice where you feel frustration, or anger, or disappointment. When you notice these things, do so without judging the thoughts or yourself. As you notice them know that you can also decide whether or not those reactions, habits, thoughts, and beliefs are serving you are not. Are they creating peace, or calm, or steadiness for you? If not, this is where Vairagya comes in. We have the capacity to notice these things and we also have the discerning ability to choose to let go of something that isn't any good for us or is causing us suffering in some sense. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and also with others.
We are not alone in this really, we are all connected. Remember that the same frustrations and fears you may be experiencing are very real for others as well. How these feelings manifest in each individual is different. Be careful as we label things or people with should haves or shouldn't haves, or judge people for how they are responding. These are examples of attachment to your ideas and beliefs about how things should be.
If we continue to revisit this concept coupled with self-study, we can then use our practice to form new habits and release old un-serving ways of being. As we let go of our attachments may we feel more peace, ease, and steadiness of mind.