By Satguru Swami Nirmalananda
Jesus taught that you should turn the other cheek. Krishna told Arjuna to go kill his family members. What is a yogi supposed to do in times like these?
Yoga makes you more peaceful, one of its greatest benefits. Yet yoga is a warrior tradition. The power of such deep inner peace is that it makes you able to face the challenges in your life without internal turmoil. Thus you are able to see clearly and determine what you can do to make a difference without fear or self-doubt. Some situations call for you to pull out your sword and go in swinging; others mean you should withdraw. How do you know which is which? The answer is found in an inner knowing, what I call a message from God. Anandamayima called it her “kheyyal,” meaning a divine inner prompting. But you cannot hear it if your mind is churning.
Recent events have been overwhelming, especially after months of pandemic, economic difficulties and racial tensions. Your impulse might be to duck and cover, like the bomb drills they had us doing in school in the 1950s. But ducking under our schoolroom desk was not going to protect us from the nuclear bomb they warned us about. We even knew that back then, proving once again that the adults didn’t really have a clue about how to meet the challenges of the time. But yogis do.
You might decide to demonstrate in support of your political perspective, or merely send money to those you believe can lead us in the right direction. But if you do nothing, you’re not a yogi. You’re a wimp. I know that you care, so show it. Act on it.
We’ve been diagnosed with “pandemic fatigue,” that people are unable to sustain their necessary vigilance. Yet you must. Mask. Social distance. Sanitize your hands. Shelter in place. But you don’t have to panic. Panic leads to paralysis, like a deer in the headlights. You have skills that you didn’t have last year. You know how to mask, social distance and sanitize. You can connect through technology and in other meaningful ways. I loved the birthday parade going through my neighborhood a few days ago, with cars decorated and horns blaring. So much love! So much joy!
And yes, this is a time to do more yoga. The more you do — whether poses, breathing practices, chanting, meditation, study of the texts — the deeper your inner peace becomes and the more clarity you have. Then you can decide what to do with yourself during this time. You can even decide what to do with the rest of your life! There’s so much possibility there. What are you doing with it?