How is your lockdown going? It feels weird that lockdown is now a commonplace noun. It’s in everyday speech, it’s a hashtag, it’s our new normal. And I kind of love it.
Ok, before you get mad my lockdown comes with a whole host of privileges that I am so fortunate to have. I have a job still, my rent is paid and I’m living with someone who is a fucking bad ass. There are so many people out there for whom lockdown is fucking horrendous but I am talking from my own experience, as I always do. This also doesn’t mean that I haven’t had my wobbles and tears, but overall I think it’s been a positive experience for me.
Lockdown has given me the opportunity to slow down. I’m an air sign through and through, baby, I gotta do things quick and now. But in lockdown, I can’t. I have to wait while family cut in and out through dodgy Zoom connections, cooking dinner has become a new hobby as I seek out entertainment that isn’t just Netflix, listening to what my body needs has become my new favourite song. I’m connecting to my life in a different way to how I have been before and it’s super scary, but also so exciting.
Lockdown has let me take a breath and look at my life through the lens of gratitude and see what is really there.
Last Sunday I spent 4 hours lying in bed reading. It was lush. Previously I wouldn’t have had the brain capacity to do that, desperately filling my free time with stuff. Oh, not any more! One of the books I’ve been reading is a textbook for my upcoming yoga teacher training programme, called “The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker’s Guide to Extraordinary Living”. To say it rules is an understatement. I’ve been gushing about it to anyone who will listen – I’m now that person and I’m okay with it.
It’s focus is on four students who are experiencing difficulty with life in their own specific ways, and the author explores each of their difficulty’s through the teaching of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The mirroring of the layout between this book and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is not lost on me, but having the living examples of these students breathes life into the text and makes it more practical, more doable. It’s fascinating, but one concept struck a chord with me, especially during this lockdown season.
Nirodha: stilling, cessation, restriction.
The idea that through yoga we are able stop paying attention to the mind chatter and can instead tune into to our truest selves speaking through the white noise in the radio. Through quiet, our authentic whispers can be heard. We can calm our monkey minds and through doing so we are able to check in with ourselves and see what we really need. What is our highest self trying to tell us, but we are too distracted to hear?
Embracing the pause is an intimidating thing. It can be scary, intense, uncomfortable – why would we put ourselves in that situation? What might we find in the abyss, on the other end of the phone? What if we aren’t really happy, what if we find fear and grief and anger?
In embracing nirodha we are allowing these feelings the space to be. No matter how big or scary these emotions are, they are there to teach us something about our experience. If you are sad, look at that emotion and see why. Why are you feeling this way? If it’s job un-satisfaction, if you really dislike your partner, if where you’re living is horrible, maybe take this time and space to address it. By giving yourself the opportunity to feel the emotions, to cry and to be hurt, you are actually becoming stronger. In doing this, you are accepting how you feel and you are honouring it without dwelling on it.
By embracing the stillness and going inside, you can change your outside for the better.
I have been dedicating some time to shadow-work and it’s be such an intense part of my life (I’ll be doing a piece later this week on shadow work, stay tuned). Without taking time for stillness and peace, I wouldn’t be able to confront the darker parts of me and give them light.
It’s not just about internal work though, nirodha can also give you the space to figure out what you want to spend your time doing. I am dipping my toe into some wicca practices. I have read tarot for a little while but am nowhere near well-versed, but these arts and rituals have always fascinated me but I’ve buried my interest due to fear of ‘looking weird’. During my morning meditation, I felt the pull. To honour myself and my needs and what I really wanted to do. So, off I went, googling Beltane practices and rituals to my heart’s delight.
I challenge you, whoever is reading this, to embrace the stillness that this period of time is giving us. I ask you to meditate, to sit in the cool air and breathe in and out. I ask you to hold a space clear in your heart to listen to what YOU actually need. Let the emotion bubble up and allow it room to breathe and know you will be okay.
Don’t feel pressure to conform during these exceptional times. Explore what it means to be you today and you might be surprised at what you find.
Lots of love,