I love yoga.
Nothing fancy, mind you. I’m in no danger of achieving king pigeon pose; even bridge pose is well beyond my humble capabilities.
What I can do are simple stretches that loosen up the old bones and alleviate the discomfort-du-jour. I can also sit in a mercifully-modified lotus position, focusing on my old buddy Captain Serenity until my racing thoughts get bored and go off to find better things to do.
My all-time favorite yoga pose has got to be savasana, better known by the deceptively ominous name of corpse pose, where the body and mind relax completely. I find myself feeling peaceful, unhurried, unworried, serene.
Until I’m back in the World Out There.
In less time than it takes to say “namaste”, petty irritants multiply like loaves and fishes. I find myself mentally casting aspersions on the parentage and IQ level of fellow drivers while stressing about what fresh hell awaits me at work and agonizing over the 5,234,678 things I (think I) need to do when I get home. Next thing I know I’m back on that souped-up hamster wheel, wondering what happened to all that wonderful serenity I had just the night before.
News-flash-to-self: I’ve still got it.
It’s just gone into functional mode.
Which is a good thing, because most workplaces take a dim view of unfurled yoga mats during business hours, and closed-eyes meditation is not conducive to safety in heavy traffic.
But Life Out There can be stressful and chaotic, and it’s easy to get swept away.
So how do I tap into this functional serenity?
Take a long, deep breath. Or two, or twelve. When I’m rushing around like a lunatic, I breathe like a lunatic–one step away from hyperventilation. This in turn kicks my body and mind into totally unnecessary “fight or flight” mode, and I’m off to the races. If I stop, breathe, and allow myself to center, I can see things more realistically and am better able to cope.
Step back–or better still, away–from the scene of the crime. It doesn’t have to be for long. A walk down the hall and back. A quick visit to a nearby coworker. Even a trip to the water fountain. Sometimes just a minute or two away from my cluttered desk and ever-blossoming email inbox helps break the spell of Overwhelm.
Say or do something nice for somebody else. This is a biggie, and it has never failed me. Besides generating positive energy for everyone concerned, it reminds me not to let the chaos of daily life overshadow the importance of the human connection. (Hey, we’re all in this together, right?)
Give myself permission to feel good. “I allow myself to feel peaceful and serene through whatever comes my way today.” “I allow myself to detach emotionally from (name that situation).” “I allow myself to feel confident.” Laugh if you must, but I’ve found this to be surprisingly effective. I may have to repeat it more than a few times, but eventually it kicks in.
And last, but definitely not least:
Be grateful. Yeah, you knew that one was coming, didn’t you! 🙂 But it really does work. Tallying up the many good things in my life is a great little equalizer when I’m feeling beleaguered.