My spouse and I had the privilege of going on a short holiday to Los Angeles for the past few days. Despite the fun we had seeing dear friends and attending a fabulous concert at the Hollywood Bowl, we both seem to have picked up a pretty aggressive virus, probably on the flight down there. I woke up early this morning feverish and have a sore throat.
I have a difficult relationship with the times I’m not feeling well. Living with chronic pain can mean that is is really difficult to not resent anything that upsets the delicate balance that allows me to participate fully in life. On the other hand, being forced to stop and rest due to illness provides some good opportunities to practice, particularly with the Yamas, the ethical rules for right living in the practice of Yoga. Acknowledging that I’m ill and responding to it appropriately, without resentment, helps me to be mindful of Satya, truthfulness.
I’m enormously grateful that this is the first time I’ve had a cold in over a year. Despite having chronic back pain from Degenerative Disc Disease and needing to manage the symptoms of Complex-PTSD, I am blessed with good health. I cared for a chronically ill parent starting in childhood, for over 40 years, that I have found my own path to good health is something that leaves me profoundly appreciative.
Growing up in a toxic family, with generations of abuse, I find it challenging to ask for help since I never could depend upon it as a child. When I have an illness that makes me need to overcome that fear, I get to practice asking my community for help. In return, I not only get the practical help of someone covering my classes, but I also get many wishes for my well-being in return. I also am reminded that I do have community to help when I need it. Learning to ask for help when I need to focus on my own healing is a kind of Ahimsa, non-harming, practice for me as well, particularly since I can easily dismiss my own needs and not prioritize my well-being.
I also get to look at the attachment I have to my classes, to my identity as a teacher, to the anxiety around the money that doesn’t come in when I don’t teach, and the attachment to my feeling healthy. My sense of worthiness is not supplied by my students, but comes from within, no matter how fragile that feeling is. Talk about opportunity to practice with Aparigraha, non-grasping!
When I don’t teach I feel anxious about money. Devoting my life to making Yoga my vocation as well as my avocation, and resisting the enormous temptation to return to technology work against my doctor’s orders, has come with a 93% pay cut. Starting a business, particularly one that is so much a part of my heart, can be terrifying and way out of my comfort zone. However, pushing myself to teach when I’m ill not only increases the chance of my staying ill for a lot longer, or getting much more sick, but it also is absolutely disrespectful of my students. Teaching at the onset of a virus could pass it along to students, many of mine have more vulnerable health to begin with and it would be unconscionable for me to risk their health because of my own anxiety about money. This really reflects Asteya, non-stealing, for me, as I would be stealing the good health of others.
Classes for the week have been canceled or have a sub. I’m rescheduling IMT appointments and withdrawing for the sake of my health and others. I’m hunkering down with tea, cuddly dogs & cats, a warm blanket, and easily available medication I am able to afford. Choosing this path of restraint, especially when all of my worries try to compel me to “tough it out”, is a way of exploring Brahmacharya, restraint.
I am filled with gratitude.
May all beings be free from fear and anxiety.
May all beings be happy and peaceful.