Monkey mind is my curse. My. mind chatters constantly, day and night. Silently, I talk to myself, to loved ones, to the world. I write essays in my head constantly. I hold entire conversations with the universe.That’s why it’s so hard for me to sit for traditional meditation. My mind doesn’t want to still.
And then I found bhakti yoga, the yoga of love and devotion and I especially found the musical chanting of Krishna Das and Nina Rao. Meditation with song and chant is so much easier for me. I never tire of it.
So what is bhakti yoga?
Not every yoga requires contortion–yoga is actually a spiritual practice, and bhakti yoga is the yoga of love and devotion, meant to help us develop unconditional love for God and all. Traditionally, bhaktas (bhakti yoga practitioners) express their devotion to deities through chant, ritual and prayer, but specifically, through what’s called “chanting the names.” Chanting the names of deities, like the Hindu Monkey God, Hanuman, is a way to love and serve God.
Chant helps us build an internal relationship with god and chanting the names is said to bring us closer to the pure love of God. For me, it brings peace of mind. It’s where I turn when the world feels too much for me, which it has during this pandemic and this entire administration. It my most effective weapon against anxiety.
Stilling my mind
As a meditation it can be done with the breath or not. Because chants are in Sanskrit, which I do not read or speak, I must let my thoughts go so I can focus on the words. Because music has always spoken to me, the melody carries me along easily. My body responds to the percussion by moving in rhythm, and while I’m not apt to break out in wild ecstatic dance like some, I feel the music down to my core and my body can’t help but move.
As I get closer to the pure love of God, it’s easier to extend that same unconditional love to the world around me. As Krishna Das says, you can’t fall into love or out of it–we ARE love. It’s always with us.
Human and fallible
Granted, it can be hard to access love in some circumstances, although it’s always with us. I feel like a work in progress…so fallible….so human. But that’s ok, because that’s why we’re here: to learn or to be reminded of what we already know. And one big lesson is LOVE.
As a bhakta-in-training I also practice karma yoga, or right action with right attitude. But that’s a story for another day.
When I was younger I would’ve rolled my eyes at chanting Hare Krishna–but, it turns out, that chant is very calming. But my first love is the 40+ verse Hanuman Chalisa, a Hindu devotional hymn devoted to the monkey god, Hanuman. My memory’s not good enough to allow me to memorize the verses but it’s a satsifying chant, nonetheless. Krishna Das and Nina Rao both have several versions I love to chant. But I recently began chanting Bhajelo ji Hanuman, which has become one of my favorites. Enjoy it below.
If you’d like to explore chant, yourself, free Pandora has a Krishna Das channel that plays a variety of chant artists 24/7. Meanwhile, enjoy Krishna Das’s BhajeloJi Hanuman.
I always burn one of my candles that contain crystals while I chant. If you’d like to do the same, check out what’s on offer at my candle page.
So many people are struggling at the moment. No one likes their activities to be restricted and yet the options are stark: eliminate most activities we know and love or looked forward to — or risk death or terrible, llngering side effects.
Yes, there are those who don’t connect with the risk, but I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to YOU. Those of you who are worried and/or vulnerable. Those who have learned enough about the virus to want to steer clear. Those who value what they hope lies ahead and want to preserve those options for the still unknown future.
Yes, I’m talking to you.
It’s important to feel your concerns and fears. To voice them to trusted friends who know how to listen. We have to get those feelings out. Because the struggle is real and we all share it.
And then? It’s important to let them go. Because living with resentment and the feeling we’ve been cheated is no way to live. It’s also not a good thing to model for the kids in our lives.
It’s not useful, either, because there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. The virus will run its course in months or even years and we will have to adapt — or live in constant grief for the way it was.
Life is not the way it was and may not ever be the way it was. We may never go back to those carefree days, or at least not for a very long time. The struggle with that is real, but it is also futile. And harmful to our mental and physical health, both.
We’re taught to be masters of our own destiny. To create our lives. To manifest our desires.
Apparently, the Universe has other ideas at the moment.
So here’s how to manage through this period:
Accept that at this moment, we are completely powerless over something: the virus. But this isn’t forever. It’s just right now.
Realize that we do have power and agency over our own actions and our own thoughts.
Consider whether you accept our obligation to our fellow man and to ourselves and want to keep everyone safe. Or if you are bound and determined to do what you want, regardless of others.
Once you’ve expressed your emotions and gotten them all out, move forward. Accept that this is how life is at the moment and find positive ways to work within that.
There are any number of online resources with suggestions for things we can do to make life more interesting: video calls and parties, reading, streaming, walks, learning music on line or a new language. Or just taking time for yourself to do nothing.
Resources also abound for jobs that are opening up. New kinds of jobs. Or new to you. Check into it all. And there are relief programs. It’s all imperfect, but every day I see people fitting solutions together. Not the solutions they necessarily wanted, but effective stop-gap solutions.
Any emphasis on what we AREN”T able to do just isn’t useful to a healthy life during this pandemic. Attitude is everything.
It’s pretty clear that we’ll never see our old lives back. But. Eventually, the risk will be lower. Eventually a new way of life will develop. We will learn new ways of living and working and relating.
We’ll grieve the old ways for a long time. But right now, as so many of us are focused on survival, it’s helpful to set that grief aside for a bit as we maintain good mental and physical health to manage through what’s in front of us. Let the Universe unfold as it will. Go on with your life as it is right now.
This is not my usual counsel on grief. But this is what I’ve come to see as most useful at the moment.
If you’d like to consider some hypnotherapy to help with anxious thoughts or a regression by Zoom, let’s talk about it. First, visit the home page here and see the tabs for hypnotherapy and for regression, then schedule a call to discuss it. It’s easy.
That’s what I’ve got for you today. Thank you for being part of my community. Would love to hear your thoughts.
My default has always been logic. Yeah, not so helpful right now. But in a chanting workshop with Nina Rao the other day, she mentioned advice given by her own guru, whenever Nina would come to her for counsel.
“Don’t think. Do your prayers. Find the answers in your own heart.”
If we’ve lived our entire lives by thinking things through, this can be hard to accept. And challenging. It involves trusting in the Divine. And it involves trusting in our own hearts.
Prayer is simply activating a connection with the Divine…or the divine in ourselves. It can take many forms.
As a young Catholic girl I memorized prayer that had little true meaning to me. As an adult, I read more contemporary prayers written to reflect how we speak today. But at this stage of my life, chanting is my prayer. So is simply talking to the Divine. Or to my own heart. Meditation can be prayer.
It may be counter-intuitive to advise don’t thinkwhen faced with a decision. But our hearts are wiser than we might imagine.
“You’re going to look back on this time as a line of demarcation,” I said to my nephew the other day, “as the time when life changed forever. You’ll remember the years before with nostalgia for how it used to be.”
The long-term effects of this pandemic will be huge all the way across the globe. But on the micro level, the level of our own individual lives, we are walking into the unknown. Into a life that will never be as, well, maybe “carefree” isn’t the word. But close enough.
Our concerns going forward will be quite different than BC and for many, survival-oriented. It’s an adventure of sorts, although one that we didn’t choose. And each of us is going to have different and very personal experiences–and worries.
The ground beneath us is shifting and it’s hard to find our balance. The road ahead is unknown. All the things we thought would be true of our lives in the future are up for grabs.
So how do we handle it? When we don’t know what’s coming, the only way to deal with it is one day at a time. One thing at a time. One worry at a time.
Sounds simple, right? It isn’t, because when we consider our futures it can be overwhelming. It can hit us all at once.
Don’t look too far ahead.
There’s no point, really, because we can’t see the way. Instead, maybe these simple steps will help you as they have helped me.
Concern yourself with the day ahead.
What do I need to do today? Is there a small chore? Something diverting like cooking or watching a movie?
Connect with loved ones.
Regular, scheduled calls with our family and good friends each week ground us. We get to air our worries in a safe place. We support one another. It’s crucial to get support (and give it) in these unknown times.
Connect with groups or people that can help you locate financial, emotional or other necessary resources. The experiences friends report on social media can be a start, if government or other resources are overwhelmed, but don’t rely on them for accuracy. Look around at government websites, etc.
Do something nice for yourself at least once day.
Take a nap. (I’ve never been a napper, but once I put an eye mask on and relax, I can be out for an hour or even two!). Read something inspirational. Dance around your house. Give yourself a facial or manicure. Get out in nature. Do yoga. Eat something yummy.
Get some regular exercise.
We start and end each day with a brisk walk in our neighborhood, even if it’s only half hour each. I can’t tell how you much of a difference it makes. I’m addicted to it.
Take all necessary precautions…
…for your age group, vulnerability and just in general. We expect to sanitize everything that comes into the house for a long while and to mask up in public.
Limit time spent on news.
I get a daily news summary and that’s all I need, except for our California Governor’s updates, which are helpful, reassuring and informational. I don’t watch TV news and I don’t obsess over news stories online. It’s not helpful.
Our governor has begun to preview what the new normal might look like and I appreciate that. I’m sure it’s to help us feel that we aren’t walking into a dark room. There’s nothing set in stone, but he’s made it clear it won’t be like turning on a lightbulb but instead, using a dimmer switch.
Because we have a guy in charge who wants us to feel empowered with helpful info, I don’t feel like I’ll be walking into a complete unknown, but for sure life will be different. These are some of the things I’m doing to feel calmer and in more control. I hope they help you.
Remember my free audios, mantras and affirmations to help manage anxiety. 100% free for all. Links next to title, just cut & paste.
There’s no magic in a meditation practice. You don’t need more than a few minutes to help bring peace of mind to stressful times. Here are three easy mediations for these difficult weeks.
Wash your stress away in the shower:
Use your imagination to bring peace of mind. Takes just a minute or two every day:
Yes, when I said easy meditations I meant it!
Send kindness to yourself and others.
This powerful practice is called “metta” or “loving kindness. It’s particularly helpful for some of us these days. (Yeah, talking about myself here.) It’s very simple:
Getting in touch with heart energy gives us an amazing boost..
Start with yourself. Take your time and really feel it.
That part is the most important one for me. But then there’s this next part. It’s the hardest one for many of us. We don’t have to know the object of our attention, they can be anyone in the world. Yes, even him.
And finally, loving kindness to all beings.
These are simple, but they can be life changing. Nothing to lose by trying them, even if just for a day or a week.
You might also consider ordering one of my beautiful candles with healing and affirming crystals to enhance your meditation. Lovely fragrance or none at all. Find them here.
FREE! Remember my free audios, mantras and affirmations to help manage anxiety. 100% free for all. Links next to title,
Sure, I see all the good around us, people stepping up in big ways to help others, even at their own peril. But I’ve also struggled with deep resentment of those who are not with the isolation program, who deny that Covid is a problem. I must admit to anger with those whose socio-political views are simply inexplicable and even inhumane. All that rage that has no place to go.
“When someone shows them who they are, believe them the first time,” Maya Angelou famously said. We’ve had years of being shown and some people still deny. I alternate between fury and heartbreak.
But today, I asked for guidance. For help in dealing with all that rage. Seconds later I “happened” to open an old email in my subscription account and there was my answer. It was in a message from Sanaya, Suzanne Giesemann’s guides, and this was it:
“If you insist on pointing out the bad and the good, of immersing yourself in the duality instead of transcending it, then at the very least you might take an observer’s neutral viewpoint long enough to notice the so-called good that comes from the so-called bad.
“Everything happens for a reason,” you say. Could that reason simply be that evolution is ongoing? Let life play out as it does with its ups and downs. Evolution happens when you see all of it for what it is: an opportunity to rise above the duality and answer with unchanging love … “
The key messages for me were “let life play out” and ” rise above. ” Take the observer’s neutral standpoint. Ain’t gonna say it’ll be easy. But it’s the only way to get through it, I think.
So, I’m going to try it. To hit the reset button and rise above. You know it won’t be easy for me.
Wish me luck.
Stay safe, healthy and anxiety-free. Remember…. my free audios, mantras and affirmations to help manage anxiety. 100% free for all. Links next to title, just cut & paste.