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Can Vitamin SEA beneficial to your dosha?

Ah, the beach! Or the shore, as some call it. Water, waves, hot sun, seaweed, sand all over everything. This is so much to love – and just as much not to love – about the beach. I grew-up in Rhode Island, which is known as the “Ocean State,” on a small island to be exact. So the beach and water have been a part of my entire life.

On a recent beach visit with my husband, I found myself wondering and exploring the ways I felt the seaside was beneficial – maybe even healing – for the three doshas. For those who don’t know, the doshas represent the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth) found in the physical world. The natural world, therefore, can have an impact on the balance of the doshas in our bodies. So how dies the beach effect our doshas? Here are some of my thoughts during that beach visit.

Elements of the Beach:

The Water – An obvious attraction of the seaside, and also obviously primarily comprised of the water element. But as you watch the waves lap onto the shore, there is movement to the ocean which is characteristic of vata (elements of air and ether). The ocean water contains salt which is of the earth element. The power of the tides also have the power to transform the shoreline (erosion) which is a characteristic of pitta (fire and water elements)>.

Sandy Beaches – The sandy terrain of the shoreline is a light, airy earth element There’s a salty, grainy aspect too, as you would quickly notice if sand blew into your afternoon picnic.

Sun – We head to the beaches because the water provides relief from the hot summer sun. The sun has the power to warms us, the sand and the water, as well as create a wonderful tan or sunburn on our bodies. Clearly the element of fire.

Sea Breezes – One of the best parts of being along the shoreline are the coastal breezes. Its a cooling delight as the wind gently drifts over the water onto the shore. Air and ether are the dominating elements here. However the breeze often picks up some of the salt from the water, especially if its foggy, bringing a slight earth influence.

Possible Effects on the Doshas:

Vata – Ether & Air: because movement is a hallmark trait of vata, the tides and breezes could subject a vata to potential imbalance. The sand and water can provide much needed grounding to a vata personality.

Kapha – Water & Earth: Even though the store is amassed with earth and water elements (literally, sand and water), it can may not be overwhelmingly grounding for a kapha. The breezes have the powr to invigorate, the sun heats stagnant energies, and the water provides gentle movement. The key for kapha is to find balance between resting and gentle activities while enjoying the beach.

Pitta – Water & FIre: pittas, in my opinion, are most at risk of imbalance at the beach. Hot sun combined with pitta’s competitive nature, they often overdo it when outdoors in the summer. However, the breezes and the water are cooling to pitta’s fiery heat. The sand provides grounded, provided there is plenty of shade available.

Take Aways:

Please know that these are my observations of nature and the doshas. There is so much that goes into determining an individual’s dosha and where they are in balance or imbalance. It is such an individual approach, which is why I love Ayurveda so much. Not sure about your dosha, take this test courtesy of Banyan Botanicals (link is on top of page).

So could a day at the beach be beneficial to you? Absolutely! Of course, as with everything, in moderation. Take precautions to ensure your dosha remains balanced. Grab your sunscreen and some snacks, and go get some Vitamin Sea!

Finding the Stillness Inside

“Stilling the modifications of the mind is yoga.” What is that supposed to mean? What are modifications of mind anyhow?

Our minds are so busy. It is constantly working to observe and interpret our surroundings. Sometimes it even judges and comments. These are modifications of the mind. Sometimes the mind imagines things, makes-up stories. These are also modifications of the mind. And that little voice inside your head; yup, a modification of your mind.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, really. It is good to be able to interpret our surroundings – be it people, places, things – so that we know whether we are safe or that we need to remove our selves in order to maintain safety. We need the mind to help us learn, whether its common sense life stuff or studies in school. And even that little voice can be useful, perhaps literally talking us through solving a problem. The problem comes when these activities of the mind are no longer “stilling.”

One of my mentors would ask us “is it stilling?” any time we went to her with questions or doubts about our practice. Often, in those circumstances, the answer was no; her response was something to the effect of “well stop it then.” But what does that mean, and how do we do it?

This idea to share the concept of stilling came to me a couple days ago during my own meditation practice. For me that meant observing the mind – and my ego – and how incredibly busy it was. And it meant that I also observed what tools I used to find stillness – and what stillness looked like. What I realized is that many people believe that stilling the mind means silencing it. I once believed this too. And although there are many moments of silence, they are fleeting. This is where stilling comes in. It is finding peace in chaos, the calm in the storm.

As an example, I took a visit to the Verde Vineyard yesterday. My husband was working there, and although I do often help out, I set out to find a lovely seat with a bottle of wine while I sat and wrote. That did not happen. I arrived with about six other groups, there was a large group already there and they needed help, so I jumped in. Needless to say I did not get any writing done, no glass of wine, no relaxing afternoon. And I noticed my mind popping in occasionally with a story or commentary about it. There were times that it was distracting – not stilling. Other times I noticed it but it was almost like it was running in the background, like having the TV on in the other room – more stilling. The more I could let my mind’s voice play in the background, the less it seemed to play. Perhaps it wasn’t making noise or maybe I was getting better at ignoring it, but it didn’t really matter – stilling.

We could get into what the ancient scriptures say about this, or get into deep conversation on techniques, but I want to keep this message simple today. Just start by noticing if you feel still, or calm, at any moment through your days. Notice what happens when you are in a crowd or large event. Notice what happens when someone says something you don’t like (or something you do like, in contrast). Notice what happens when you make a mistake at something. What are you looking for? Notice if that voice in your head starts talking – what is it saying, what is the quality and tone of its voice? Notice if you feel tense or anxious. And ask yourself: is this stilling or not stilling? If it is not stilling, see if you can change just one aspect of the situation.

This takes practice – lots of practice, trust me – so don’t expect to become a peaceful monk overnight. But do know, and trust, that calmer moments are ahead. We just need to find where the stillness lies inside.

Welcome Summer

Ah, Summer! Longer days, warm nights, spending our time at the beach or pool, and barbeques. It’s also a season when many of us overdo it, including myself. Sunburns and heat exhaustion as examples. But there are ways that we can prevent these things from dampening our summer spirit.

To begin: sunscreen. We should all be doing what we can to protect our skin. Staying the shade when outdoors is the best, and sunscreen should still be applied. However, if you’re a sun worshiper or outdoor enthusiast, sunscreen should be a mandatory part of your daily regimen. And if you go in the water – or sweat a lot – be sure to reapply often. If you do get sunburned, cool (not cold) showers with aloe vera gel generously applied after is my personal favorite. A face cloth soaked in cool water with lavender oil can also be relieving,

Choose cooling foods. Salads are very popular this time of year not just because of the availability, but because they are light and cool. Choose light dressings, or none at all. One of my favorite salads is a base of spinach leaves with a squeeze of lemon or lime, a small amount of olive oil optional. Not only a bright-tasting salad, but the citrus juice helps your body to absorb the nutrients in the spinach, specifically iron. Snack of fruit. There are so many different fruits available throughout the summer that snack time should never be boring. I like to store my fruits in the fridge so that they have an extra coolness – I think chilled apples taste extra crisp, but that might just be me.

Drink plenty of water. And although it seems counter-intuitive, drink it room temperature. Ice-cold beverages can shock our entire body system and also decrease the efficiency of our digestive system. If you must have cold water, try not to make it ice-cold. You can also vary the temperature of your water through the day. When having beverages with a meal choose warmer. If having cold beverages, opt to consume during the warmest part of the day (10am-4pm) and be sure to sip slowly.

Exercise & Activity: Try to keep all exercise and physical activities to the early morning or later evening, when outdoor temperatures are cooler. If you are out on a midday excursion or exercising, take it slow and don’t over exert yourself – conserve that energy! Choose activities like swimming, kayaking, gentle yoga, perhaps a leisurely hike on a shaded path.

Most of all: ENJOY the season and the extra sunlight. I know I will.

Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally here in Southern New England. Longer days, warmer weather. Flowers are beginning to bloom, wild animals are giving birth. It is a time for renewal. It’s time for spring cleaning.

For many of us, spring cleaning is about deep-cleaning our homes. We climb into all those hard-to-reach spaces. We wash, maybe even change, the curtains and other décor that is difficult to clean regularly. We bring more bright and pastel colors into our spaces versus the darker, warmer colors that we’ve had during the winter months. This is also a great time to “spring clean” our bodies. Many people choose to do a diet cleanse or go through a panchakarma (a guided ayurvedic detox program); what about cleansing the mind?

For me, this means more meditation and contemplation. This spring I am looking at all the information I take in to observe how it affects me. Does it feed me or starve me? News, social media, the people I surround myself with. I have also started observing my self-talk. This is a difficult one as many of us – myself included – have learned to be critical and judgmental of ourselves. Words that connotate being less-than or unworthy pop up at random, often unexpected, times. It has become part of my spiritual practice to pause that mental dialogue as soon as I recognize it, observe the situation at hand, then counter with a supportive thought. This is ahimsa (non-harming) in action, aimed at the self.

For example, perhaps I messed-up a simple task. My mind starts telling me that I am “stupid” and “should know better.” So I pause and observe the situation, noticing that I am distracted (aka not present in the moment). I counter the mental dialog with something like “you’re usually really good at tasks like this, but you seem really distracted. Let’s take a few deep breaths to see if we can relax and focus more.” Or perhaps the mind comments on weight gain during the pandemic. Words such as “fat, ugly” float around in my head, so I again pause. The counter might be “you’re beautiful. But if you want to lose some weight you know what to do to keep your body healthy and strong, and you’re good at it.” And there are so many more examples I could choose – my mind is very active.

Self-observation is a core concept in yoga and Ayurveda. And observing mental chatter is just one aspect of self-observation. I look forward to changing my relationship with this self-critical, self-judgmental part of me. Bringing ahimsa to yet another part of my daily life. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate the teachings of yoga and Ayurveda into your spiritual practice, contact me.

Pandemic Personalities and Moving Through 2021

As I begin to write this newsletter, I am realizing that it is already March 2021. How? It was just about a year ago that Rhode Island, essentially, shut down. Individuals and businesses were suddenly scrambling to figure out how to bring their offices home, how to teach school online, and how to keep essential businesses open. Some were afraid, some were skeptical, most were just trying to go with the flow as restrictions and guidelines were constantly changing.

I found there were basically three types of “pandemic personalities.” There were the ones who suddenly became super creative. Whether it was remodeling/reorganizing the house so that everyone had a place to work, finding new hobbies, or learning to bake people were becoming creative. I have seen lots of painting, drawing, and reading. And lots and lots of sourdough. One of my colleagues completed two – yes two – children’s song albums last year. For them, 2020 was a boom. Then there were the do-nothings. These were the individuals who were afraid to be around people, afraid to go to the market. Many for legitimate health reasons. Some just didn’t trust that they’re fellow humans were unable to follow the regulations to keep them safe. Many became quite isolated, especially early on. These folks may have felt that 2020 was a bust.

The third type of “pandemic personality” was something in between. There were bursts of creative energies, followed by depressive episodes. There was meeting for coffee in the park, followed by meeting for coffee over Zoom. There was outdoor dining at restaurants, then deciding not to go out to eat when the weather got colder. I believe that I fall into this “in between” personality. There were projects that got finished, but there were things that never got started. I had times of great inspiration, and times of deep solitude (not of the desirable kind) and a sense of separateness.

So, perhaps overall 2020 was more of a bust for me. However it was in those darkest moments of solitude that healing and direction came, even though I didn’t see it then. And although 2021 hasn’t been the boom I was hoping for, all the shattered pieces of 2020 are coming together. I am working to bring my wellness services into the virtual world, and to expand those offerings. I am now leading yoga classes in two states, one on the East coast, one in the middle of the country. I am actively exploring my next book project as I also prepare to launch my first book into the world. I still sit in quiet solitude, and I limit my outings and the people I’m in contact with.

I believe that many of those “Creative Pandemics” are going to need to take some time to rest and reset in 2021. If you’re one of those individuals, 2021 is your pandemic reset time. If you were the type to hunker-down and hide away, 2021 is your time to begin to take all that internal focusing and release it in some way – this is your year to shine in the pandemic. And if you’re one of those “little-bit-of-both” then you’ll likely continue to be a little bit of both, but you’re likely going to see a bit more of the side you didn’t see as much in 2020. Whatever your “pandemic personality” is, let’s continue to move through 2021 with a positive outlook, with fresh eyes, and an energy that we have never experienced before. I’m expecting 2021 to bring some exciting shifts, and I think we are ready for it.

Thank You 2020

It was a relatively uneventful New Years Eve this year – for my family and I am sure for many, many others. For me, however, it was a more thoughtful holiday. Many begin their new year making resolutions or setting intentions, but we don’t often pay enough attention to reviewing the year that we are about to leave behind, And 2020 sure gave us a lot to review and think about.

2020 took a lot away, but it also gave so much. Working from home gave many the opportunity to be with their families. Of course its not without its challenges, but how nice that you could have lunch every day with your kids? many found new opportunities for employment. I personally began teaching yoga in Colorado – remotely, of course. In my neighborhood we had the opportunity to meet neighbors because so many of us started walking through the streets – okay, yes its because most of us were bored out of our skulls, but we were getting out, exercising, and meeting people.

One of the other gifts of 2020 was the opportunity to spend time with ourselves. Just us and our thoughts. Exploring our deepest desires and deepest fears. Contemplating life, death, and the meaning of it all. For some this is a beautifully fulfilling process, for others it may bring deep depression, for most it is some combination of both. I found myself becoming deeply involved with furthering my spiritual study and development and simultaneously avoiding and running away from it. I found myself ecstatic and full of energy at times, then feeling deeply depressed at others. And its okay. The gift was in being able to experience it all – fully, completely, without the need (or the ability because, pandemic) to run away from it.

So for 2021 I want more of that – the deep self-inquiry, exploration, connection, feeling – for myself and others. I set the intention to help others by going deeper into that work for myself too. Yes, I have some of those “standard” resolutions as well: exercise more, be more consistent with my yoga practice (yes, even yoga teachers get lazy sometimes), drink more water. But to be able to dive deep into the meaning of life, spirituality, observing the world without our personal filters and opinions – well, that is something that was much more difficult to do regularly before 2020, and its something that we can get better at in 2021.

My wish for you all in 2021 is that you take the opportunity to look deep, Whether it is deep inner/spiritual work or simply enjoying the depth of beauty in nature, may you begin to peer a little farther into those waters. May you find joy and bliss in the little things. May you stay centered and peaceful even during difficult times, and may you spread that peacefulness to others (even if its only within our household). In my yoga tradition we greet each other with the phrase “Jai Bhagwan,” Victory to the Divine. The Divine within me, the Divine within you, and the Divine in everything around us.

Jai Bhagwan and farewell 2020. Jai Bhagwan and welcome 2021. Peace and blessings to you all.

Holidays, Social Distancing & Light amidst a Pandemic

I love this time of year. Houses ad lawns decorated with lights, visiting with family you don’t get to see often, special snacks and meals that are only served on festive occasions – I love it all! I have often worked Thanksgiving weekend, so the first chance I get after that day is when I put up my Christmas tree. And the Christmas playlist comes out – usually a small collection of cd’s, but sometimes a local radio station.

This year is different. I have seen some neighbors put up lights way before Thanksgiving, some are lighting up their yards for the first time, and there are some who seem they don’t want to bother. It is all okay, and it is all normal. Many will not spend time with relatives and friends this year, and Zoom will continue to be the norm for gatherings. My own house is not exempt.

For the first time in the twenty-plus years I have lived in my house there is no Christmas tree. There are decorations: lights, festive table linens, holiday-scented candles and essential oils. I did place ornaments on my mini-orange tree (that counts, right?). It just felt right to do it different this year.

One of the things that fascinates me about “the Holidays” is that so many of the World’s religions/spiritual traditions have some sort of “light” holiday this time of year. The ones I know of: Kwanzaa (African), Diwali (Hindu), Hanukkah (Jewish), and Christmas (Christian) – I know there are more. And there is so much symbolism surrounding “light” in each of them. Generally speaking, harvest has ended and we are preparing for winter. Long, cold, dark nights await. With a simple lantern or candle, we can dispel some of that darkness. That simple lantern lights our surroundings and illuminates our souls, bringing hope and faith that brighter, warmer days are near.

These are celebrations of Light conquering Dark; or good vs. evil. Literally and figuratively. I refer the interpretation of the Light of Truth prevailing over the Darkness of Ignorance. I believe this to be a very appropriate, perhaps a more literal, interpretation for 2020. Of course there are many, many levels of understanding to this – perhaps I’ll explore these at another time. We, as a collective, have had to face ignorance and seek truth for the majority of this year. Mask or no mask? When and where to wear said mask? Is COVID real or a hoax; is it as bad as they say? Work-from-home or go to the office? Are schools safe for my children? Etc, etc… the questions go on and on. We, as individuals, have been forced to not only find answers to these questions and others, but to also distill the truth. On an existential level (read: spiritual) we have been forced to sit with ourselves in ways we never have before.

Those with a contemplative practice (meditation, yoga for example) may have fared a bit better as they are used to taking time to look inward. With all this time at home alone we begin to look at ourselves, our lives, and wonder: what the f%*# am I doing with my life?!? And this begins the process of unveiling the Light of Truth and banishing the Darkness of our own Ignorance. This is not easy work.* It is a process of revealing that we are sitting in our own darkness, but that we are the candle that will dispel that darkness – we just have to spark the match. I my self, and many colleagues, have struggled with this process at times. 2020 has presented this challenge to me and many others – you are not alone.

However, as these holidays suggest, the Darkness will fade and the Light will shine – literally and figuratively. My make-shift Christmas tree (the orange tree) has only boomed every two-to-three years; with very few flowers and only one fruit since 2009. This year I have seen dozens – DOZENS – of blooms over the past three weeks. My living room is blessed with a sweet citrus scent ever couple days as new flowers open. I see this as a sign of that Light – hope, growth, faith, and truth. We may not be able to celebrate in the ways we have in years past, but we can still celebrate.

I wish you a safe, healthy, happy Holiday Season. May the Light of Truth shine bright in your life, now and always.

*If you are struggling, ask for guidance. Counselors & spiritual teachers are available to help. You can reach out to me, or to any trusted person.*

Autumn and Cold & Flu Season

Autumn arrived rather quickly here in Southern New England. Temperatures have dropped, the leaves on my neighbor’s maple tree have turned a vibrant share of red. Mums are adorning porches and walkways. And the requisite pumpkin-spice-everything has arrived. The weather really is perfect: not too hot, not too cool, not many extremes at all.

Usually this is my time to begin preparing for cold and flu season. It’s time that children are heading back to school. We start closing windows and, eventually, turning on our heat. Sniffles, runny noses, and mild coughs begin to pop up. This season will be a little different as we still have a global pandemic keeping a strong hold.

I believe that the precautions we, as a general population, have been taking due to COVID-19 will actually help to prevent the spread of colds and the common flu. We have become more vigilant about washing our hands. As a wellness and food safety professional I know that proper hand washing is the number one (aka the best) way to prevent the spread of disease. We are also wearing face coverings to help protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, but when worn properly (over both mouth and nose) we are also preventing the spread of cold and flu. Because we are covering our mouth and nose, should we cough or sneeze we are preventing the accidental spread of germs. But did you know there are more steps you can take?

If you are familiar with neti pots and sinus washes, I would recommend putting that back into your daily routine, particularly before heading to bed. The sinuses work to clean the air we breathe, keeping dust and other fine particles out of our lungs. Sinus washes help to clear any particles that we don’t clear through regular blowing of our nose. And clear sinuses make breathing so much easier. I recommend doing this at night so that you can clear the sinuses before bed. There are plenty of nasal washes available over-the-counter, but if you have never used one I do recommend consulting your healthcare providers (or contact me) as this is not recommended for some people (such as those with a deviated septum).

I would also recommend using oil in the nostrils. Nasaya is a common Ayurvedic practice done after nasal washing. It helps to lubricate and nourish the sinus passages. A simple version is to simply line the openings of the nose with a plain oil such as sesame (not toasted sesame oil). The oil will help to catch small particles at the opening of the nose, preventing them from even entering the sinus cavity. I recommend doing this in the morning or before heading out in public. Consult your holistic practitioner for specific recommendations.

A last suggestion, and one of my favorites, is add turmeric to your day. I add it to everything! The easiest way is a simple tea: 1 pinch turmeric powder, 1 pinch ginger powder, 1 pinch ground black pepper, squeeze of 1/4 to 1/2 lemon (depending on size and taste). Simply add these herbs to a cup of hot water and stir. Each of these herbs contribute to this healing tonic. The turmeric is antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and the list goes on.

Want to learn more ways that YOU can stay healthy this season? Contact me to schedule a consultation. Until then, stay well and enjoy all that this autumn season brings.

Fall, Boredom, Meditation: Finding Stillness & Inspiration Amid a Pandemic

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer here in Southern New England. You can feel more of a breeze during the day, nights are getting cooler, tree leaves are starting to change colors. Yup, we’re heading into fall. You might be saying to yourself: Where the hell did 2020 go? I am.

Rhode Island, where I live, has been in some form of a pandemic-induced shutdown since March. Businesses closed doors, people working and teaching from home, education moved to a virtual platform. Many thought that being at home would be the prefect opportunity to learn new skills or to revisit old hobbies, perhaps to get back to a home exercise regimen. I thought the same. Key word: thought.

I had spent much time in late 2018 through 2019 in a bit of a state of self-inquiry (more on that another time) so when the pandemic hit Rhode Island and things shut down, I saw it an an opportunity to get back to my physical practices: walking, running, and daily yoga. It was difficult at first as I too was transitioning to teaching yoga virtually. But as I got used to these changes, I began moving more.

It didn’t’ last long, however. Soon boredom set in. As parks and nature trails re-opened they became more crowded, so not a good place to be if you’re trying to social distance. I was doing the same exact thing day after day. Planning dinner at 10 am became the highlight of my days. Pandemic Fatigue is what I have heard it called. I was – and am – tired of the precautions, the COVID-19 data updates, the pro-mask versus anti-mask, the protests and riots, the sense of isolation (despite often seeing a few neighbors as my “pod”), and Zoom. Realizing, at some point, that our day-to-day existence has permanently changed and its time to re-invent what I do and how I do it. And that brings me back to autumn…

I love the fall! Its still warm but cooler breezes make the temperatures not only bearable, but enjoyable. Fall also brings a shift in energy, one that I am definitely feeling this year. Fall is a Vata season (yes, even nature has doshas). It brings movement and change that is visibly noticeable in nature. With this, autumn may be a good time to implement changes in your life or get started on a project.

Vata is also a force of inspiration and creativity. Perhaps that is why I feel drawn toward self-study and contemplation in the fall? Nature is in the process of moving toward stillness (winter season), and humans are drawn toward stillness as well – but only if we allow it.

Meditation is one tool that can be used for introspection and finding stillness. Many meditation practicioners – beginners and experiencd alike – find it difficult because their mind is full of chatter. The intent is not to get rid of the chatter, but to be “still” despite the thoughts. One of my favorite meditation techniques is japa. It is the repetition of a word, mantra, or prayer utilizing a string of beads ( called a mala or prayer beads) to help keep count of the repetitions. The mantra becomes a melodic verse in the mind that can help focus attention away from otherwise distracting mental chatter.

There are other techniques, including simply sitting with eyes closed. They key to meditation practice is as thoughts arise – and they will – to not get caught up in them. Notice them and let them go. If you do get caught up in them don’t worry, just try to let them go at that monent – sort of like watching clouds as they pass in the sky. Another tip is to start with short incremets of time. Start with five minutes (or even less if its difficult) and slowly increase the duration each week. I find the more often I sit for meditation not only do I feel more calm and relaxed, but my creativity increases as well.

To share my love of japa, I will be hosting a free meditation on Facebook the next three Sundays (September 13, 20 and 27) at noon. I will discuss japa, the malas, and introduce a new mantra each week. It is my intent to share a practice that can help alieviate stress and anxiety, bring stillness to a busy mind, and perhaps assist in self-reflection during this period of pandemic fatigue.

With love & blessings, Jai Bhagwan!

Stop Swimming

Last night I felt it appropriate to share one of my favorite stories of my guru’s guru, Swami Kripalu, during my yoga class. I’ll share my shortened interpretation here.

Swami Kripalu was in a deep meditation one evening. It was monsoon season in India, and he was warm while still in this meditative state, Swami Kripalu jumped from his meditation cushion and ran toward the Narmada River and jumped in to cool off. Being monsoon season the river has rushing and Kripalu was soon pulled into the raging river. He was shaken from his meditative state and immediately began to attempt to swim to shore. There was one problem: he couldn’t swim. After struggling and struggling to swim to shore, Kripalu was just about to give up and accept the fate that he would drown. He heard a voice say to him “Stop swimming.” He must be hallucinating , Swami Kripalu thought. Then he heard it again, the voice of his teacher instructing “Swami, Stop swimming.” Confused because if he stopped swimming he would surely drown, but he followed the command. And lo-and-behold his body began to float effortlessly upon the waves of the river. He continued floating in this manner for the remainder of the night, eventually coasting toward the shore where the villagers came to help rescue him.

Why do I share? This story illustrates that sometimes we get stuck in the struggle. This keeps us from being able to see solutions or to get out of a situation. It is like we can’t see anything but the struggle. Although this applies to just about everything in life, it feels particularly poignant as our country begins the phases to reopen businesses and schools.

In my home state of Rhode Island, there is currently great debate over schools -do we go back to in-person learning or not? There’s a lot of debate, especially while social gathering limits remain low, restaurants and businesses are operating under restrictions that greatly limit building capacity (and therefore limit sales). And there are many business that are still not able to open within the current guidelines (the yoga studio I teach at is one of such businesses). The one thing that is consistent through all of this: we are struggling with what to do.

We, as individuals and as a state, are focused on the struggle. We are focused on making the right choice, doing the right thing. We are swimming through this crisis, and in the process of this struggle we are realizing we can not swim. We need to let go of the struggle – to stop swimming. Once we are no longer focused on the struggle, the answers will come to us. Just as when Swami Kripalu stopped struggling, he discovered that he didn’t need to try to swim because his body could float. It’s the same for a difficult life decision, like reopening schools, as it is for a difficult yoga pose. The moment we stop struggling we find a sense of ease, and in that ease answers come.

So, take a moment today to notice where you are “struggling.” It might be something big, it might be something minor. See if you can let go of the struggle, even if only briefly. Stop swimming.