How to Deal with Stress in Times of Crisis
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Written by Becci Stockman, Content Writer at Inkwell
After finding herself on lock down in India on her own, Becci explains how she found peace from within during a pandemic in a foreign country.
At the age of 23, I packed up my life in Ireland, leaving behind my position in the mental health field, to venture off with a one-way ticket to India. It felt like a dream. I lived on a beach shaded by palm trees along the Arabian Sea where turtles came to nest. On a full moon, bioluminescent plankton made the seas glow a mystical bluish-green. I hiked through the dramatic peaks at the footprints of the Himalayas, meeting spiritual masters, called Babas, while ancient chants in Sanskrit called from the temples. I felt inspired to study India's traditional health system, Ayurveda. I began my journey, committing to daily healing rituals, practices that helped me maintain peace in the scary events to come.
When the global pandemic hit, I was in Goa, a state in the southwestern coast of India. With four hours' notice, the entire country went into a 21-day lock down. All forms of travel were put to a halt, and we had limited access to food and water. I made phone calls back and forth to friends and family trying to get the information I needed to make the right decisions, and quickly. I decided to self-quarantine in a hut on an isolated beach, more or less on my own, although surrounded by a few new-found friends in a similar position. Throughout all of this, naturally, my fight or flight stress responses triggered. To manage elevated tension in the body, I turned to inner reflection and meditation practices to calm the mind. Instead of letting fear kick in, I chose to surrender to the present moment and accept what was arising. I asked myself: How can we create solace in a time of world havoc? Taking this time as an opportunity, I made a choice to embark on a journey of inner peace by exploring the elements of my mind, body and soul through the three main limbs of Pantanjali's Yoga Sutras; Asana, Pranayama, and Dhyana. Following these three simple peace restoring practices allows us to transcend to a safe place, within. Come back to these anytime that stress arises during times of crisis, and you wish to ground. Remember, choose happiness, peace, and compassion. Always.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali define asana as "a posture that is steady and comfortable". Begin by grounding the mind and body, become present and arrive. Surrender to the present moment and internally align. Silence the outside chatter and devote this time to your practice. Shift out of the mind and deepen into the body. You can follow this simple yoga series, or pursue your own flow. Move through a journey of poses to relax the mind and body. Exploring each mindful movement to calm the mind and transmute outer havoc. Consciously let go of any tensions inside and outside of the body, releasing what no longer serves us in this present moment. When you are ready, finish in Savasana (Corpse Pose) and take as much time here as you need.
Pranayama symbolizes control of the breath. "Prana" meaning breath, "Yama" meaning control. Rising up from Savasana, arrive at a seated position, Lotus pose. Elongate the spine, relax the shoulders, and reconnect with the natural breath. Becoming aware of the breath and conscious of the body reduces stress hormones and activates the relaxation response. Pranayama is incredibly powerful in helping to restore the natural rhythms of the body's nervous system. Breathe regulation techniques release anxiety, bringing us to our Zen. It acts as an effective tool that restores a sense of tranquility, connecting the body and mind. Check out this powerful, deep healing Pranayama practice guided by the Goddess herself, Emily Darby. A special session devoted to restoring peace and clarity during COVID-19.
After transforming into a calm, grounded state through a series of Asana, followed by Pranayama, you will enter a meditative state for Dhyana. Here, you can leave all of your worries behind, and just be. Exist purely in the present moment. Focus on the breath and clear the mind of any distractions. Acknowledge and accept thoughts as they arise. Let them flow by without forming an attachment. You can integrate mantra meditation here, where you focus on a powerful mantra to enhance your vibration. In respect of the current crisis, a powerful Sanskrit mantra for global healing is: "Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu" “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” Chanting this mantra 108 times allows us to connect with the Universe and contribute to our global consciousness for healing. Let's come together, now more than ever, to rise up and transcend from a place of stress to a safe space, within. I found my calm surrounded by chaos through these practices. After several weeks on lockdown in India, the Irish government arranged emergency flights for its citizens. Within 24 hours, I packed my bags and rushed to a flight back to Ireland. It was bittersweet to leave but a relief to return to safety. After 14 months away, I haven't been able to hug my parents yet, as I needed to self-quarantine for two weeks. But having these spiritual practices I learned whilst in India, I have maintained inner peace and managed the stressful events that we are all experiencing on a global scale at this time. I hope they help you through these turbulent times as well. Now more than ever, we need to embrace a catalyst for change in moments of chaos. Following this holistic approach helps to balance my mind, body, and soul during challenging times. Restore peace within to better manage stress without. Namaste x