How to live life during a pandemic

I just saw a comment on FB where someone stated that “we are not supposed to live like this”. The statement was made in reference to the changes that we all have had to make this year, and the ones that were made for us, due to the spreading of the Coronavirus. And it ushered me to share some thoughts I had the other day.

We are living through a pandemic, a new and unknown experience. It’s understandable that many of us feel like this is not “supposed” to happen, that it’s not “right”. And that we want our life back to what we think of as normal. So how do we live life to the fullest with these substantial changes of circumstances having taken place in our lives? Instead of waiting to do so at some point in the future when this is over and done with? Well, I realized just the other day that I am simply living life the way I have for the last many years. No difference whatsoever. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not talking about going about my day just the way I did before we were mandated to quarantine at the end of March. No, I certainly don’t, but in the bigger sense of it, I live my life just the same way.

My yoga practice has helped me in so many ways over the last 30 years. One of the basic concepts that I follow on the mat, also guides me in living life in general. This is true now, just as before the pandemic started. When I get on the mat, I make a point of listening both inside and out. This is how I will know what and how to practice on any given day. Many circumstances have an impact on the choices I make for myself. How is my body doing? Any aches or pains that might make me choose to do, or not to do, a particular pose or poses? What is my energy level like? Do I have restless energy that I want to move? Am I drained emotionally or physically, so that something  less physically demanding is what will serve me the best? How much time do I want to spend on the mat? Is the room warm and cozy, or not so much ? Do I have a space to roll out my mat? The answers to all these questions are always changing, which is why the questions are so important. By respectfully listening to the answers, I can practice in a way that benefits me the most, no matter what my circumstances are that day. In other words, I continually adjust to what is taking place, and practice accordingly.

I live this day the same way. When my circumstances change, be it internally or externally, I adjust to them in the ways that are possible, so I live my life to the fullest, no matter what. This time is no different to me than any other time in my life. What is highly unusual is that these big changes that have taken place in my own life this past year, are shared by so many. They are affecting millions of people. I personally had to let go of my yoga studio, learn how to teach virtually, adjust to live with the whole family at home for the first five months, my partner lost her work and does not know when there will be work again. These are big changes, but, we are still so very lucky. We are just fine on a practical level and have everything we need. It still comes down to the fact that my circumstances have changed and I am choosing to adjust to them. Just like if I had gotten sick, broken my leg,  lost someone dear to me, or  gotten fired from my job.

So,  my humble suggestion would be to take notice when we react in an entitled way to the changes in our external circumstances, when we think that “this shouldn’t be happening to me”. Or “I don’t like this” and “I can’t deal with this”. Because this is part of life as we know it today. And of course you can handle it. And not only can you handle it, but you can live well during these unusual times. To do this we all have to adjust, make choices for ourselves based on what is, and not on what used to be. We might have to explore new ways of living to take care of our physical and psychological well being. Ways that meet our current needs.

I am not saying that this will remove all challenges that this particular set of circumstances are bringing you, and that is not the point. We will always be challenged and there will always be pain on some regular basis. It’s a fundamental experience of being human. The question, no matter what we face, is how fluid we can be? How will we adjust our mindset and our way of approaching each and every day?

If you are reading this and you don’t know how to go about it, then please reach out to friends, family or  a professional that can help guide you. Whatever you do, take care of yourself. Your wellbeing is in your hands, but  you don’t have to be alone in figuring it out.