Embracing the “New Normal”

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Lau Keith

By Mary Boutieller

What we decide to seed and let grow is a garden rich with possibility.

How are you doing?

It’s almost funny to me that my first thought after typing this question was, “Fine, I’m just fine.” After all, that’s what we’d normally say in passing because we are often too busy to really consider how we are doing. Except that now, we might have a little more time on our hands to pause and explore how we’re actually doing.

I thought I was fine. Really I did. Until I woke up the other day and immediately felt like crying. I told myself, “That’s ridiculous, it’s first thing in the morning, you can’t wake up and want to cry!” Can you hear me telling myself that? So I stuffed it down, took a shower, ate breakfast, and then went with my husband for a really long, really fast, really sweaty walk, ending up in a meditation garden at a nearby church. Interesting that I stopped there, as it wasn’t my original destination! I sat down and gazed at a beautiful angel statue that I’ve always loved. And that’s when my husband asked how I was doing. And that’s when I started to cry. It wasn’t a long sob; it was more like a release of energy, of fear, of tiredness; a mixed bag of emotions that I didn’t really want to feel. But once I cried it out, it was gone—like a weight suddenly lifted and the whole world feeling much better than it did when I had first awoken.

So, why do I tell you all this? Because the day before and the day after this unhappy event, I was FINE! I felt good, I was doing my thing, not super worried…or so I thought. I had not been acknowledging the subtle undercurrent of stress I had been feeling all along. After all, I am a yoga teacher, so I “should” have great stress management skills, right?

All of this brings me back to the question I started with, and I ask it earnestly: “How are you doing?” Are things starting to settle in your heart? Has the angst or worry or fear released its hold on your monkey mind? Can you sense a bit of ease coming back into your body? Or are you riding the roller coaster of emotional upheaval—good one day and not so good the next? Once again, there is no wrong answer. How you are feeling is how you are feeling and as long as you haven’t let the whole world situation overwhelm you to the point of paralysis, it’s going to be okay.

Michael J. Fox once said, regarding his Parkinson’s disease, that he learned to only give it the room it needed and nothing more. In other words, he didn’t let his disease take over his life. And I think most of us aren’t letting this current coronavirus pandemic take over our lives, but it’s still affecting us in various ways.

So what do we do with that? How do we go about our lives, loving and caring and feeling empathy and making the best out of the situation? We do it one day at a time. We do it by allowing ourselves to feel what’s happening without pushing it aside. We do it by reaching out, sharing stories, singing, laughing, connecting and, yes, even crying when the need arises.

In the movie Almost Famous there is a great quote that I wrote down (I had to rewind several times to get it all!). And although I don’t remember the movie at all, I remember this line: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is the truth that we share with one another when we are being uncool.”

Sitting in a park and crying—so uncool! Being super silly while teaching yoga on Zoom—totally corny. Being willing to share our thoughts, feelings and truths with one another—worth its weight in gold.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve become a little clearer about what is important in my life. I’ve come to terms with things I had put off saying or doing and addressed some of them. And I’m allowing myself to imagine what could be in my future now that the “wheels are off the bus.”

Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron wrote this: “There comes a time when the bubble of ego is popped and you can’t get the ground back for an extended period of time. Those times, when you absolutely cannot get it back together, are the most rich and powerful times in our lives.

This is one of those times.

How we choose to move through this time is up to each and every one of us. What we decide to seed and let grow is a garden rich with possibility. In yoga, I will often tell students to firm up the muscles or activate the core to find power in the pose. Yet at some point, when we’ve taken ourselves to our edge and when we’ve tired ourselves out, we have to soften into the essence of the pose. Similarly, sooner or later, we have to let down our guard. We have to allow ourselves to soften into our truth and be in all our glory and messiness and humanness. We have to, really, or else we are just a wadded up ball of yarn, and that is no way to live!

Breathe here. Place a hand or two on your heart, close your eyes and find a willingness to allow what is there. Don’t push it away. I’m guessing there might be a little more to open in that precious heart of yours. And if you happen to be in a really good place, maybe ask someone you care about how they are doing, and then listen to the answer. Our hearts are ripe for connection, so why not take the leap.

Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.

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