There is little disagreement that we are currently living in some of the most stressful and challenging times in history. With the world seemingly falling apart due to violence, political discord, planetary destruction and a worldwide pandemic, it’s easy to fall into hopelessness and despair. You may have noticed that you have been experiencing worsening pain, anxiety, and depression.
The good news is that there is hope and there are simple things that you can do to reveal the radiant, brilliant soul that shines within you. I bring you what I have termed the “Three Saving S’s:” sangha, sacred space, and sadhana.
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”
– Herman Melville
Sangha is a Sankskirt word that means “community.” This may very well be the most important “S.” Currently, we live in an isolated world of social media, Zoom meetings and Netflix, with ever decreasing real social interactions. However, we did not evolve to live such a disconnected life. For our ancestors, community was essential and it was the basis for every aspect of their daily living. Human beings need community as much we need food and clean water. In fact, loneliness and social isolation may in fact be the real epidemic. Researchers have found that loneliness is as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day and that lonely people are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social connections. However, it does not have to be this way. There are tons of easy ways to find friends, connect with loved ones and find your community. Here are a few ideas (that can be done in person or online):
- Take a class to learn something you’ve always been interested in.
- Join a club, church, or other organization.
- Volunteer/donate your time to something that is important to you.
“The home is the most sacred of places: it is the first temple wherein the family creates the cosmos from chaos and experiences the fullness of life: birth, sex, flourishing, love, laughter, pain, and death.”
– Steven Schloeder
If you’re like me, you might not have ever given much thought to where you spend your time and what it means. However, our homes have always been an important factor in our lives, and now with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all spending increasing amounts of time inside. My husband and I both work completely from home and are caring for a toddler and an infant. If you’ve ever spent much time with kids (or even if you haven’t!), you can probably guess how much time and space gets devoted to mommy. In order to preserve my own sanity, I have quite intentionally set aside a room dedicated to working as well as my health. Within my room, I have an area where I do yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices. I have it decorated with things that make me happy and I fill the space with smells from incense, candles and an essential oil diffuser. This space is sacred to me because it’s MY space, it is filled with things that enrich my soul, and it is where I come daily. If you’re hoping to save your own mental health, I highly recommend that you consider doing the same. And remember, a sacred space does not need to be an entire room, big, or even necessarily inside. It can be anything and anywhere you want it to be! The important part is that it is YOUR sacred space. Here are some ideas for things to include in your space:
- Photos or other pictures that are meaningful to you.
- Pillows, blankets or other “comfort” items.
- Music, scents or other things which appeal to your senses.
“What is sadhana? It’s a committed prayer. It is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best.”
– Yogi Bhajan
Sadhana literally means “methodical discipline to attain desired knowledge or goal.” According to 3HO, it is:
“It is the foundation of all spiritual endeavor. Sadhana is your personal, individual spiritual effort. It is the main tool you use to work on yourself to achieve the purpose of life. It can be done alone or in a group. Sadhana is whatever you do consistently to clear your own consciousness so you can relate to the infinity within you. Before you face the world each day, do yourself a favor—tune up your nervous system and attune yourself to your highest inner self. To cover all your bases, it will include exercise, meditation, and prayer.”
I cannot emphasize enough the value in creating and maintaining a set of daily practices that are all focused on the goal of enriching YOUR body, mind, and soul. The greatest gift that you can give to others and the world is to care for and heal yourself. This is not a selfish act. In fact, it is the most selfless act there is. Your sadhana does not need to be long and usually is anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. There is no perfect or ideal routine. It is whatever works best for YOU. My sadhana changes slightly from day to day. However, it pretty much always includes running, dancing, yoga, mantra, meditation and being outside. Here are a few suggestions (the options are literally endless):
- Go for a run or walk outside.
- Do some simple yoga or stretching.
- Sing, dance or do both at the same time!
- Meditate and practice mindfulness.
- Journal about your gratitude and intentions.
So, there you have it! Three simple ways to save your life and the lives of everyone around you. Please remember that there is nothing to be found that is outside of yourself. All the beauty, brilliance and light is inside you right now and always. All you need to do is tear down the walls around it, one brick at a time. The “Three Saving S’s” are simply tools to help you with that task.