Each day we can ask this question, “Who am I Now?”, but these months of reentering areas of our lives seem more existentially poignant than before we’d heard of Covid 19. We’ve had the unique experience of being confined to home. Whether this has been more like in-house arrest or a welcome, quiet respite, we didn’t choose it and we had to heed the authorities.
Who have you been during these 15 months? Did you learn to embrace Zoom? Did you study home bartending? Did you explore the eternal landscape of Netflix? Over-exercise? Try your hand at sourdough, both baking and noshing? Cry and laugh and cry again? Count your blessings? I did all of this, and more.
These months seem to have put the big magnifying glass over our choices, exaggerating our tendencies in sometimes opposing directions. For months I manically biked and paddled, as fast as I could, rising before dawn to meditate and practice āsana, planning days filled with projects. I zoomed everyone.
The next phase was surrendering to comfort: beer, cocktails, coconut cake and lots of screen time. I nestled into my nest and loved the freedom from the pressure of so much socializing.
My pendulum found its center eventually, but now we’re in the reentry phase, and I find myself confused again.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but part of my identity crisis showed up when I went clothes shopping with my daughter recently. I was ready to finally enhance my life with more beauty and aesthetic choices, but it didn’t go that way. Nothing connected for me, I felt judgemental of what I saw (tiny things for birds or dolls to wear) and alienated, like no one understood who I was or cared. I had hoped to feel that I was in like-minded company, inspired, acknowledged and uplifted. Instead I felt more alone and unsure of who I was.
I can’t just refer to the self I was before. Time has been overlaid, like a parasol blocking out the sun, and we’re different than we would have been without time’s influence. Had quarantine been only a few weeks, we would all have likely stepped right back into our lives and our habits where we jumped out.
Some silver lining material: we get to choose who we want to me as we step out now. The yogis and Buddhists tell us that there is an eternal part of us that continues through all of life’s transitions. Some traditions call this the soul or the spirit. This part cannot be harmed, killed or improved. It simply is. Due to the conditions of being born human, we forget about this part most of the time. We need constant reminding, and even then, life seems so compelling that we willingly turn away. We think we’ll remember.
We might say that we live many lives in this one lifetime: a baby, a child, a teen, a 20-something, maybe student, worker, partner, parent. Maybe we could be a grandparent or an elder someday. This soul, this eternal essence, travels along through all of these lives.
It doesn’t ask, “Who am I?” but simply is. It is a part of us that is free from suffering, completely detached, and accepting. Our ordinary consciousness seldom feels this way.
In my life, I sometimes do feel total ease through practicing meditation or yoga, relaxing in nature. or spending time with folks I truly trust. Time disappears and with it, worries about who I am.
I also find solace in the ancient texts, like the Radiance Sutras. Similar to Rumi’s writings, these aphorisms are sometimes so ecstatic that they’re out of my reach. but this one felt accessible:
Consider all the pain and all the pleasure
You have ever experienced
As waves on a very deep ocean which you are.
From the depths, witness those waves,
Rolling along so bravely, always changing,
Beautiful in their self-sustaining power.
Marvel that once, you identified with
Only the surface of this ocean.
Now embrace waves, depths, undersea mountains,
Out to the farthest shore.
Take a moment to appreciate that you are “…rolling along so bravely…”. You are here, now, doing your best. Maybe this is a time to seek out those activities that help you glimpse your eternal source. While I’ve been writing this, my luxurious cat had climbed into my lap 3 times, nuzzled me into her warm, black fur, and acknowledged that I am worthy. Bless her! She’s pretty cranky at my return to the keyboard, so I am going to surrender to her message, the reminder that I am whole, that I belong, and I will keep “rolling along so bravely” to the next step.
I hope this is helpful.
If you are ready for support on your journey, contact me for a yoga therapy session. It’s wonderful to do this work together
And I am delighted to be able to offer scholarships again for yoga therapy. Please don’t be shy if you are in need of support or if you know anyone who you could refer to me for stress relief. Likewise, if you’re moved to support this program as a donor, please contact me.
Remember that my website has all my past newsletters, recorded meditations and videos to support your mental health. Please visit CatEnrightYogaTherapy.com.