I first started yoga and meditation practices regularly when I was in Varanasi, India, the year after high school. I was 18. I know how cliched that sounds, but it’s true. It was just days after 9/11. It was bizarre and surreal to be both physically removed from the familiar and to have my very ideas of safety, of familiarity, upended. The familiarity of being in a space and moving in a prescribed way, of sitting still, was a balm. The inner quiet, even if momentary, was a place to come back to when the outer cacophony of sensory overload and bad news was too much. I started practicing in that very vivid time and place. I have dropped in and out of it over time. But I keep a clear memory of finding rest in savasana when I needed rest desperately.
I came back to regular meditation around the time of the 2016 election. Outer turmoil, seeking a grounding practice. And now, I find myself again drawn to it. I am studying and practicing daily, often with yoga teachers I know (online). I am sitting, daily-ish, with a meditation coach (on headspace). And even though I often find myself during these practices to be squirmy, to be falling out of the moment and into wondering what’s next, to be uncomfortable, I crave the time. The familiarity. The grounding. Knowing what to expect and knowing I feel better afterwards. I also feel more drawn than ever to other kinds of mind-expanding practices– learning about mystical traditions, magic, physical techniques, breathwork, plants. Do I want this because I’d rather go within than deal with what’s out there? Or do I want to exist more fully in the world as it is? I don’t know. But I do know that the more consistently I spend time in dedicated practice, the closer to OK I start to be.
Do you have a practice that’s been rekindled during this strange time? What other kinds of expanding and/or grounding are working for you?