Yoga, Shipping Toilet Paper to Australia, and Managing Emotions
I don’t know about you, but this past week my emotions have been jostling each other like contestants on a reality show.
I’ve been sad, happy, angry, joyful, content, fearful, empathic, hurt, grieving, blissful, ashamed, anxious, and much more – sometimes within seconds of each other.
I’ve also wondered at various times throughout the day:
- could I ship toilet paper to my friend in Australia who told me she’s been out for 6 days and how long will that take?
- is my 16-year-old son going to be okay after all this?
- do I have enough cat food? (he really likes to eat)
- is 5G zapping my thyroid?
- should I consider hoarding frozen vegetables? and
- is my brain growing wireless neurons? (I’ve had some weird Facebook scrolling dreams)
There’s always yoga – but sometimes it doesn’t work as well as I’d like it to.
So I remind myself that in extraordinary times it is normal to feel extraordinarily out of whack (I panicked a bit when I saw the zucchini basket was empty at the supermarket and I vacuumed my garage this week…twice).
I am trying my best to keep it together – for myself, and so that I can be of service to others. And sometimes that means lying on the couch and re-watching Rom-coms with a bag of chips and my cat (The Princess Bride never gets old, Kitty agrees).
There’s a very deep, ancient part of the mid-brain (the Superior Colliculi) that drives the orienting response – which is the mechanism that guides attention to make sure we’re safe and cared for. It also guides primal, pre-verbal emotions – grief, rage, fear and shame on one hand, and feelings of love, attachment, connection and safety on the other. The orienting response is a part of our survival mechanism.
When survival is threatened, we can easily fall into grief, rage, fear and shame.
I am trying to remind myself that when I see these emotions arise in myself or in others, or in (surprise) social media interactions (I’ve had a few… let’s just say…“unyogic” comments this week 😬), I try to remember that they are initiated by survival instincts.
Then I pause, breathe, and make a heroic effort to allow myself some time and space (which is what the front brain needs to come online) to reflect and respond – rather than react.
Primitive emotions are perfectly natural evolutionary defenses at this particularly moment in history. They serve a very important role. We don’t have to suppress or avoid them, but understanding where they come from can help us better manage them. They are red flags that help us remember to offer ourselves and others some space, some compassion, and some kindness.
For those of us who are not scientists, health care workers, or offering other essential services, what the world needs most from us right now is gentleness, kindness and clarity.
The other day I was taking a walk and an elderly gentleman, peddling very slowly up an incline across the street looked over, smiled affably, and said, “You’re doing great! Keep your chin up!”
That’s what I’m talking about.
Please check out my free eBook Weather the Storm: A Subtle Yoga Guide for Building Resilience.
Join me for a free workshop on Healthflix on Saturday, April 11, at 10 am ET, “A Journey Through the Body for Greater Inner Awareness, Self-Knowledge, and Clarifying Your Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Difficult Times”