Lockdown in England is starting to ease. There are so many things to consider both at a personal level and for my business.
I feel agitation arising within me.
How this manifests for me is a fluttery feeling in my chest, tension in my head, tiredness in my eyes, loss of appetite, withdrawing from my family, disturbed sleep, and generally being a bit grumpy and preoccupied. In short, I am what we would call ‘stressed out’.
When considering stress I think it is really useful to distinguish the stress trigger (which I may or may not be able to do anything about) and my stress response (which I definitely can control). When I notice my stress response has been triggered, I know that I need to take action to meet that with relaxation response.
No, this does not remove the source of the agitation or stress. No, this does not miraculously solve all my problems. No, this does not miraculously solve any of the myriad problems in our wider world right now.
Yes, it does break the cycle of stress causing more stress. Yes, it does make me physically more at ease. Yes, it helps me to identify the source of the agitation. Yes, it helps me to identify ways to accept or to change my reality. Yes, it allows me to align again with my sense of who I am, what’s important and what my priorities are right now.
When I meet my agitation with kindness, with warmth, with care and with relaxation, it doesn’t get the better of me. I can distinguish the agitation from ‘me’.
The first principle of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga is ahiṃsā – non-violence. The prefix ‘a’ which means ‘non’ or ‘not’ is significant here. It is not an encouragement to be loving, kind or compassionate – it is a reminder to stop and be not-violent. For me, daily relaxation is embodied ahiṃsā. It keeps me out of trouble, and leaves me in a physical and emotional state where I am less likely to harm others by acting out of agitation.
So this week I am simply reminding myself to keep on stopping.
Excess of Vata – When Agitation is High
In Ayurvedic terms, agitation is related to too much ‘vata’ or wind energy (movement, lightness, coolness).
We can address this with stillness, heaviness and warmth. To add weight in your relaxation practice, try placing something slightly heavy on your forehead, on your abdomen, or on your top thighs. You could use heavy yoga blankets, wheat packs or hot water bottles (not too hot!) You can also place something in the palms of your hands, like bean bags or pebbles (warm them if you can).
A few weeks ago I wrote a Recipe for Relaxation – safe, still, quiet, dark and warm. All of these things help to reduce vata.
Guided Relaxations on Soundcloud
Over the last few weeks I have been building a new library of practices on Soundcloud. You can access these through your browser, or download an app to your phone or tablet.