As human beings, we have the natural ability to adapt to stress that occurs in our daily lives. When confronted with stress, or what we perceive as a threat to our well being, we have three methods of coping: fight, flight, or freeze. These possible actions are rooted in our biology and are how we deal with various threats from the environment. Although in the modern world our physical safety is rarely threatened, we still react to threats to our psychological and emotional well being.
Our natural impulse to fight, flight or freeze causes: rise in musculoskeletal tension, alteration of breathing patterns, a shift in nutrient distribution by the cardiovascular system, and a flurry of activity in our nervous and endocrine systems. These systems work wonderfully when fight, flight or freeze is followed with periods of rest and relaxation. However, in our modern society we often find ourselves in a state of constant stress. Hence, our systems become taxed over time.
Luckily, one of our superpowers as human beings is to alter and control these stress responses to keep our body in a state of homeostasis, where optimum health resides. During this current pandemic, it is essential to have tools to maintain overall health and wellness.
I live in San Diego and own two yoga studios. They are both currently closed. I am sad but adapting. We are now live streaming 40 classes a week to support our community. People are figuring out this technological shift – we use Zoom- and jumping right in using yoga and meditation as a way to stay balanced. The key to adapting is your ability to shift perspective.
We can adapt to challenges. Our genes are designed to adapt. Emotionally and physiologically, we must practice keeping our hearts and minds open on a constant basis. Here are four things I am doing each day in my own life to survive and thrive.
1. Conscious Breathing
The principle is simple and all of yoga is founded upon it: breath and mind are intertwined. Still your breathing, calm your mind. Three times a day try to stop everything you are doing and fully concentrate on three slow breaths. Breathe as deeply and slowly as you can. You will be amazed at the effect. Try it now!
2. Read Quality
Keep your mind elastic and open by choosing to read inspiring content that uplifts you. Apply this same principle to your intake of television, movies, social media, etc. Let in content that is full of wisdom that will lift your spirits to rise during this time. The 24-hour news cycle is heavy on the heart and mind. Bring light into your consciousness.
3. Create a Sacred Space
Create a sacred space. We all need a safe and sacred space to rejuvenate our spirit. I have two: one where I meditate and the other where I play music. Create yours. Do your inspirational reading, journaling, meditating, yoga and anything that uplifts you in that zone. Make it special. It is your sanctuary.
The importance of daily movement as a way to reduce stress and work out psychological tension can not be overestimated. I make a point to begin each day with either a brisk walk or run and a yoga session. I also try to exercise again in the evening. I find these moments invaluable to maintain equilibrium in my life. What form of movement do you like? Yoga, running, walking, swimming, tennis, bike riding: anything that gets you up and moving will be beneficial.
You can learn more and practice these techniques online at our virtual studio that features FREE, pre-recorded videos, or attend a live streamed class with real-time teacher interaction at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga.
Challenging times require patience and adaptation. Customize these four tips and tricks as needed to suit your lifestyle and situation. Find your sacred space and draw on that special energy!
Meet the Author
Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.