If you're navigating through life's changes and grappling with finding a clear path forward these days, know that you're in good company. So many people I know are feeling adrift right now as they are confronted by the uncertainty that we all face on an individual, collective, and planetary scale.
Eastern traditions remind us that the one certainty in life is impermanence. Though we may comprehend this on a cognitive level, internalizing and accepting it on a deeper level is an entirely different challenge.
To that end, here are three ways that yoga can help us navigate the impermanence of life:
First, uncertainty can remind us of the power of the present moment. When things feel shaky, it's important to remember that the only thing we can truly depend on is the present moment.
In yoga, we can connect with the present moment through our breath, the sensation of stretching our bodies, the activation of our muscles, or other sensory responses we experience while practicing asana or meditating. When we are present to what’s happening in our bodies and minds during practice, we can experience a shift and realize that each moment brings something new.
Second, uncertainty can help us remember that we are part of a larger story. Yoga teaches that at the ground of our being each of us are part and parcel of a universal whole.
When we find ourselves feeling lost or without direction, it may be easier to relinquish control and surrender to the larger flow of our lives. We can remind ourselves of this of the unstoppable power of life and our place in it by leaning into the beauty of the natural world and connecting with the rhythms of the earth.
Whether it's feeling the wind on our skin or listening to the sounds of a flowing stream, experiencing the natural world with the awareness of our fundamental interconnectedness can expand our perspective and remind us that we're part of something much bigger.
Finally, uncertainty can be an opportunity to rediscover and strengthen our intentions. Sankalpa is the Sanskrit word for intention. It refers to the coalescing of our thoughts and energies in a specific direction.
When things feel uncertain, we can no longer rely on external results or affirmations. This can be disorienting, but it also gives us space to rediscover and recommit to our core beliefs and values. Recommitting to our deeper intentions or ways we wish to direct our efforts can help us to can find a sense of purpose and direction even in uncertain times.
For example, if you’re a real estate agent dealing with changes in the housing market and a shifting professional landscape, you might find that your intention remains to help people find the right home for them, even if your specific next steps aren't clear. By recognizing that our intentions don't depend on external results, we can find the courage to move forward even when things are uncertain.
Yes, life is impermanent, but our practice can help us stay grounded so that we can find meaning even in the midst of uncertainty and uncover the gifts that can come from embracing life’s changes and transitions.