I was devastated when I got the news that my India trip in March was cancelled. I had been looking forward to this for about eight months. I got all of my immunization shots, spent considerable time and energy purchasing airline tickets, making travel arrangements, and purchasing travel paraphernalia like suitcase locks, a money pouch, anti-bacterial wipes, and masks (well, masks were sold out everywhere.)
Then a colleague of mine asked for my advice about whether or not to cancel her sold out yoga retreat in Morocco. While telling her my story about cancelling India, an insight emerged.
How much is my personal attachment to go through with the retreat clouding my wisdom about doing the right thing?
You have to discern between your attachment and what you know in your heart. Attachment comes from the head. Wisdom comes from the heart. To make good decisions and feel integrated about it afterwards (rather than doubting yourself, feeling guilt or shame), you need both head and heart to work together.
Here’s an inquiry that really helped me get clear:
How do you go through loss? Do you accept it easily or do you resist it and fight back? How does your personal attachment get in the way of your judgment?
To arrive at a conscious decision that unites mind and heart, you have to sort out the various voices in your head. I had a few different voices – the voice of denial, the voice of fear, and the voice of anger, sadness, and loss, that covered up my voice of wisdom.
Voice of Denial: “The virus isn’t really that bad. I’m healthy. It will just be like a mild cold. So what’s the big deal?”
Voice of Fear: “I could get really sick. Maybe I could die. I have no control over getting quarantined. I could spend weeks stuck in India or at JFK after my return. I’m afraid I’ll never get to go to India again.”
Voice of Anger, Sadness, and Loss: “I’m angry and frustrated that I put so much energy into the trip, and now it’s cancelled. I’m so sad that I’m not going. I’m going to miss being in the Chidambaram temple. I so wanted to dance with Nataraja. I lost hundreds of dollars and countless hours of preparation for a trip that’s not happening.”
Then I sat for my mantra meditation practice and took some time to allow these voices to simply be inside of me without needing them to go away. I closed my eyes and deepened my breath. The thoughts swirled and streamed through my mind as I placed my mantra softly in the field of my awareness. Eventually all of the voices calmed down and only the mantra remained. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and calm. It was as though a warm river of relaxation and bliss flowed through me. Then the mantra vanished and only silence remained.
After I came out of meditation, I felt clear and refreshed. The voice of my heart wisdom arose within like a geyser of light. All of the other voices aligned with my higher self. The decision to cancel was the best decision given the situation. I was at peace.
(Now that the virus is a global pandemic, it totally makes sense to cancel all non-essential travel, not just to protect myself, but to protect everyone else. Being asymptomatic doesn’t mean I’m not a carrier and therefore I could be contagious! This post was written before everything got worse. It’s a completely different world today and as we’ve all heard, conditions are expected to get worse and peak in the coming weeks. I am publishing this anyway because the message is still relevant.)
If you need to make a similar decision in the coming weeks or if you’ve just experienced loss or a change of plans, I invite you to meditate. Use the inquiry above and see if you can sit with all of the voices inside your head. Then sit for meditation using a mantra and see what happens.
May you find the clear, calm, voice of wisdom in your heart. I invite you to join me for my next Facebook Live free video series, beginning Wednesday April 1. Join my email list for notifications and follow the Ashaya Yoga with Todd Norian Facebook page to join in live or watch the replay at your convenience.
Stay strong. Stay healthy and stay safe. I hope to see you soon.