It is so difficult to not be affected by what is happening in the world, especially when we are deeply aware of how interdependent and connected we all are. We can feel small, scared, overwhelmed and helpless in such times of chaos. We might think to ourselves “What can I do, I am only one person and this is so much more than I can fix by myself.” Yet action, even the smallest of steps, is the antidote to such feelings and supports the flow of love and healing back out into the world!
One of the quotes by the Dalai Lama that might support our efforts to take some small action this month is “World peace begins with inner peace”. September is also National Yoga Month, which might just be an ideal time to consider trying one of the intention-setting ideas for self-care to cultivate inner peace when chaos presents itself:
- Try something new. If you already practice yoga, perhaps take your practice somewhere new, like outside in a park, or by a body of water. If you typically practice by yourself, maybe consider joining a Yoga or Meditation MeetUp to sense into the powerful collective energy of such a group. If you typically take a Vinyasa class, consider trying a different style, such as Yin or Restorative. Maybe you have had your eye on a workshop around the new or full moons – make a step toward getting it on your calendar, whether this month or next. If you don’t practice yoga, consider attending a Beginner’s or Gentle class, or an introduction to yoga workshop. Yoga encompasses so much more than the shapes on the mat, so consider a group gathering that peaks your mental or spiritual interests!
- Share the gift of yoga. If someone you care about is also currently struggling to connect with their core center of inner peace within, invite them along with you as you try something new. You might frame the invite as their presence would be a great support to you to face the fear head on. Knowing you have each others’ backs can in and of itself reduce the level fear that comes with trying something new, even though we know it is good for us.
- Mindful minutes. Throughout your day, consider committing to taking a mindful minute several times a day. It does not have to be scheduled or occur at the same time each day. Instead, perhaps having a Post-It note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder and then, when you sense your body and/or mind tensing up, stop what your are doing for a minute. In that minute, you can simply acknowledge the tension, place your hands in a gesture of care to yourself (e.g., right hand over your heart, Garuda mudra, Adhi mudra, Hakini mudra, etc.), and draw your awareness to your breath. Another way to practice mindful minutes is to give what you are doing your full attention for that minute. For example, if you are washing dishes, encourage your awareness to focus on the details of the object you are washing, such as its size, color, shape, texture and material. Offer it your appreciation for being a part of your kitchenware and its role in nourishing your body. Another example might be giving someone your full attention for that minute, such as when you interact with your family at the end of the day. This one can be more challenging as we often are planning our response after the first few words. So consider committing to only listen and releasing the attachment to the almost automatic need to comment on what they are sharing.
- Practice kindness. Toward yourself! When we experience chaos, it rattles us. Recognizing how this manifests in yourself, whether it creates irritation, fear, anxiety, self-criticism, withdrawal, and/or dissociation, is the first step. With this awareness, you can begin to discover techniques that help to soothe those responses, such as deep breathing, yoga Nidra, creating, reading, and/or talking with yourself as if you were your best friend. The kindness is creating space to offer yourself those techniques. Consider this mind bender: If we don’t act kindly toward ourselves, how can we expect ourselves to act authentically kind to others!
- Plan a gathering. Surrounding yourself with your tribe, those people that are like-hearted and lift you up, is important to remind you that you are not experiencing this chaos alone and by gathering together, we exponentially impact the collective love, compassion and intention of peace that the world so needs. Consider a gathering dedicated to exploring the world chaos a little more directly by inviting your tribe members to share how they know the world chaos is impacting them and their ‘go to’ act of kindness to self-soothe. Perhaps ask some of your members to guide the tribe through one of their acts of kindness or listen to a yoga Nidra practice together and talk about the change it created in the moment. Make sure to check back in with everyone at the end of the gathering and collectively set the intention to continue to share newly discovered acts of self-kindness, facilitating the flow with love from the inside!