March 21, 2022
A Practice For Trying Times
First things first: Life is hard. No matter who you are, no matter where you’re from, no matter how much money or support you may or may not have… life brings challenges to everyone’s doorstep. Some people’s challenges may be more trying than others, and some people may be better equipped to deal with certain challenges than others. But everyone has them. In fact, other than being born, dying, and living in bodies made of flesh and blood, having challenges may be the only thing we all have in common.
That said, between the Coronavirus pandemic, global inflation, rising sea levels and other issues related to climate change, a Russian invasion of Ukraine, fears of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, and a variety of other circumstances, there is no question that the last two years have been especially challenging for many people all over the world. And sadly, though perhaps not surprisingly, the effects of these challenges can be seen in the dramatic increase in the worldwide rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health-related issues.
Of course, as many people know and have experienced, maintaining a regular yoga practice can be immensely helpful when it comes to navigating life’s ups and downs. But with so much uncertainty in the world, and so many jobs requiring longer hours, and so much financial hardship, not everyone has the good fortune to be able to find the time and space for a complete and satisfying daily practice.
Fortunately, there is a very simple practice that can be done anytime, anyplace, by anyone regardless of circumstance. In Sanskrit, it’s called citta prasadanam, which, loosely translated, means “maintaining a sweet or uplifted outlook.” There are many ways to do this practice, but one way is simply to remind yourself that no matter how bad things have gotten at various points in human history—no matter what wars have been waged, no matter what financial crises have come about, no matter what illnesses have befallen us or our loved ones—there have always been good things that have come with them, be they great works of art, new businesses, deeper bonds with family, community and country… or any number of other positive outcomes.
It may seem a bit trite, but more often than not our greatest challenges lead to the discovery of our greatest gifts and the accessing of our greatest abilities. The most important thing is that we not let our minds get wrapped up in fear, discouragement or negativity, but instead look for the opportunities amid the uncertainty. This is what citta prasadanam is all about. And whether you make a mental note to remember, wear a piece of jewelry that reminds you, or tattoo it on your forehead, I hope you will remember to practice keeping a sweet and uplifted outlook in the midst of your challenges, because you never know what they might inspire you to create, or who you might help as a result.
Below are some recommended practices to support you during these trying times: