We are navigating our way through the fourth month of a world wide pandemic which has brought death and illness, abrupt life style changes, physical isolation, economic and health challenges for many and devastating hardship for others. We are experiencing political unrest and deeply rooted racial problems. The challenges we are facing and will continue to face are calling us to find ways to deal with difficult emotions before they overwhelm us. Difficult emotions can fester within us, keeping us from being aware of our own power and capabilities. Trying to avoid what disturbs us by finding distractions can end up leaving us drained and disconnected.
We can practice Allow-Soften-Soothe to help us develop the ability to hold onto our clear presence and compassionate heart. We can reverse the instinctive tendency of the mind, and body to resist and react to the emotional and physical discomfort and maintain our discerning mind and intuition.
Buddhism and the Yoga Sutras provide us with concrete methods to deal with intense emotions.
In Buddhism, anger is referred to as one of the Three Fires, also called the Three Poisons: desire, anger, and delusion. Let’s just take anger as an example of one of the emotions we have all felt in the last four months. It’s important to realize that we do not have anger. Anger has us! It affects our life in such a way that we cannot think clearly, our behavior most often changes for the worse. Resisting and reacting to emotional discomfort diminishes and depletes us. It is the pain of the pain , the suffering of the suffering!
Buddhism and the Yoga Sutras teach that one should neither give in to the anger nor deny it. The foundation of the practice is to be aware of the anger itself. This is a very difficult concept.
In Peace Is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh writes: When we are angry, we are not usually inclined to return to ourselves. We want to think about the person who is making us angry, to think about his hateful aspects—his rudeness, dishonesty, cruelty, maliciousness, and so on. The more we think about him, listen to him, or look at him, the more our anger flares. His dishonesty and hatefulness may be real, imaginary, or exaggerated, but, in fact, the root of the problem is the anger itself, and we have to come back and look first of all inside ourselves. It is best if we do not listen to or look at the person whom we consider to be the cause of our anger.
Like a fireman, we have to pour water on the blaze first and not waste time looking for the one who set the house on fire. We must transform the energy of anger into an energy of empowerment and love.”
Recently we all have experienced problems that have generated stress in both body and mind. When in a state of suffering, we can name the difficult emotion and bring awareness into the body. Recalling the difficult emotion and scanning the body to find where you feel it the most. Remember our issues are in our tissues! So you name it and say it. ie. “That’s longing.” “That’s grief” and then you find where it resides in your body in the form of tension or discomfort.
Once you have found the location in your body where it manifests most strongly, perhaps as muscle tension of an achy feeling like heartache, you incline tenderly toward that spot to practice Allow-Soften-Soothe.
1. ALLOW the discomfort to be there. Let the discomfort come and go as it pleases like a guest in your own home. Create a wide space in your awareness for this feeling to come and go; not trying to make it go away_ just being with it. You can repeat “allow…allow… allow”. 2. SOFTEN into that location in your body. Let the muscles soften around the edges without a requirement that they become soft, like simply applying heat to sore muscles. Is there something you would like to release? Perhaps you would like to say “soft…soft…soft” quietly to yourself to enhance the process.
3. SOOTHE yourself for struggling in this way. If you wish you can direct kindness to the part of your body that is under stress by placing your hand on that place. It may help to think of your body as if it were the body of a beloved child. You can say kind words to yourself, or just repeat, “soothe, soothe, soothe.”What do you need to hear right now? What would you say to a dear friend struggling this way? Can you offer words of kindness, even right now?“
Perhaps we can all use these three words like a mantra as we bring awareness to our body, our mind, our breath, our pain.
The above meditation is based on the work of Christopher Germer & Kristin Neff.
ANAHATA YOGA with Chris Morton
8 Week Summer Session
June 22 – August 22, 2020
Gift Certificates are available for classes, programs and private sessions.
Email Chris for details!
There are two ways for me to receive payments for the spring yoga session or for drop in classes. My preferred way, if possible, is for you to send me a check made out to Chris Morton to my home address, 8 Beck Street, Newburyport, MA 01950. (I cannot receive mail at the Ajna Studio address, 190 State St. Newburyport.) You can also click here to make a payment to my pay pal account.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty, please let me know and I will waive your payment.
I will be signing into all Zoom classes a half hour before we start to have a chance to talk with you. Please feel free to get on early if you want to say hi, have a question about a particular pose and/or want to find a modification to accommodate a physical limitation.
The expanded size of my studio on Zoom allows for larger classes! Thank you for spreading the word about Anahata Yoga Classes on Zoom. Please have interested people give me call.
Private sessions are available on ZOOM and may include: • Yoga
• Restorative Yoga Poses
• Processing grief and emotional challenges
• Preparing or recovering from surgery
• The Yoga of Eating
Cost: $50 Please email or call if you have questions and/or would like to schedule a session.
Tuesday Meditation & Book Group Tuesdays 8:00–9:00am
July 6, 13, 20, 27
August 3, 10, 17