*Written by Maija Klamer -resident yoga teacher and retreat leader at Eden*
Here at Eden we live in close harmony with mother nature. Surrounded by green jungle, looking out over the majestic Pacific and at night covered by a blanket of millions of stars… It is easy to restore the connections with our true Self and the natural world in a place like this. Unfortunately it is also easy to lose that connection, especially if we live fast paced lives in modern western cities. And even more so in these times of chaos, confusion and insecurity.
Changing a negative spiral
The more we find ourselves separated from nature, the more sensitive we become to a state of depression, anxiety and confusion. And the more we drift into this state of separation, the harder it is to find our way back. We move to a place of distrust, towards others but also towards our own body and intuition. We may reach for medicine or drugs to bring us back into a fake sense of balance, often resulting in even more damage. The more exhausted we feel, the more coffee we drink, and the more we will need the next time. As a result we can’t sleep at night, so we might need something to help us to fall asleep. Which adds to the feeling of even more exhaustion the next day.. And so on and so on.
This ongoing spiral can only be broken by doing something totally different. Often it means stepping out of our comfort zones and taking a big leap. This is why many people choose to go on a yoga or wellness retreat. To remove themselves from the toxic patterns that have become their daily rituals. To restore their inner balance and flow back into a state of connection and Self-love. From that place they can begin to build a more healthy routine that supports the life they want and deserve.
But now, in the middle of a pandemic and with most of the world in a strict lockdown, even traveling is not an option. Many families are literally locked inside their homes, children around them the whole day, having to work from home with zero time for themselves. Stress and frustration are building up without the space to ventilate or relax. There are also people who experience the opposite. Living alone, locked up in an empty apartment and no one to support them in their moments of sorrow and solitude. Depression is more present then ever.
These are challenging times for everybody. And it is interesting to see that in times like these people often long for the exact opposite of their reality. Freedom loving singles wish they had somebody in their lives to share the hardships with, to have the commitment towards a family to take care of. While the busy parents who are now doing multiple jobs- being a school teacher, parent, householder and partner all at once, long for nothing more than a break, to be alone with nobody around them.
Coping with the loss of freedom
Most of us have never had to cope with situations in which we are so deprived of our free will. We are so used to living in a society with a wide array of choices and opportunities. And now we are suddenly not allowed to move freely, being stuck between four walls. There is one thing that does continue though. And that is the constant flow of information. News, facts, numbers, statements… Depending on which media bubble we have created around ourselves, it’s mainly algorithms that decide what we see and read. (Unless of course you are one of the few that doesn’t use a smartphone or laptop- in which case you won’t be reading this blog either;-)
We have all witnessed the confusion that has been building up. The fear mongering by fake news channels, politicians and influencers, all with their own agendas. Intelligent people falling victim to fear and confusion, and suddenly pointing their fingers in anger to ‘the others’ that may live and believe in a different bubble. The more we oppose and resist our life as it is, the more we grow angry towards those who we believe caused our circumstances. We separate ourselves even more, limiting our social life to small boxes of like-minded people, so we can feel safe and supported.
Unfortunately, this will only cause us to feel more isolated and fragmented. Because in truth we are never separate from ‘the others’. This is the biggest illusion that humanity is suffering from. We are not separate from nature. We ARE part of Mother Nature, all of us, and we are in this together. YOGA literally means UNION or CONNECTION. Practicing yoga is a way to realize this on an experiential level. I am not referring to the physical practice of yoga asanas in a yoga studio or gym. Many of us do that (I know I did when I had just started) once or twice a week, and then hurrying back into our daily lives, our separated bubbles. With practicing yoga, I mean practicing a holistic Life-Art system that allows us to discover our true Self- all the layers of identity, ego, mind, emotions, subtle energy system, deeper consciousness. It is a practice of radical self acceptance, leading to higher understanding and eventually to a state of love and compassion. And when we discover the depths of our own being, we will also start seeing ‘the others’ with new compassionate eyes.
Bringing light into the shadow
Luckily, there are many people that see an opportunity in the current situation. Everything that does not serve us anymore, on micro and macro level, is being highlighted in these challenging times. The demons are stepping out of the shadows into the bright light, demanding to be seen. And once something is seen, it can not be unseen. The challenge is to start dealing with our own demons first, not pointing our fingers away from ourselves.
Practices to grow awareness
For all of you ready to take the first steps on this journey of transformation, Eden offers practices and tools to support you on your path. Underneath you can read a couple of simple things you can do to grow awareness and connect to yourself and nature. I will also share a monthly yoga and meditation practice via the Eden Youtube channel, so you can practice from your own home, sharing in our beautiful ocean view. For those of you fortunate enough to travel to Nicaragua, we are continuing our live yoga retreat programs. We now offer special 15 and 25-day ‘yoga & working’ retreat programs that are ideal for those of you doing remote online work. We will keep you posted about all of this and more. But first things first. Let’s begin with a few simple steps.
Invite the 5 elements of nature
Join Maija on Youtube for a free yoga class to connect with the Earth element
When we realize that we are not separated from Mother Nature, it is easier to understand events in a bigger perspective and feel less overwhelmed. We are a part of mama earth and we are built from the same 5 elements that move through the universe. All 5 elements have their own unique super powers that we can tap into. Depending on where you live, you can find a stretch of nearby nature to spend some time in. It does not have to be a wild forest, the top of a mountain, an empty desert or beautiful coastline, although it is amazing if that is available to you. It can just be a city park where you can sit under a tree or at a pond and observe the elements and animals that resonate with you at that moment.
Earth helps us to find stability, feel grounded and feel safe. It resonates with Muladhara, our first, root chakra.
- Sit or stand against a big tree, close your eyes and just breathe. Visualise roots growing from the base of your spine, your legs, your feet. Let your roots entangle with those of the tree, settling deep into the earth.
You can say the following affirmation: I am.. (grounded, calm, safe)
Join our free yoga class on Youtube. This slow flow practice with @MaijaYoga will calm you down and help you feel more grounded, creating a safe foundation.
Water invites us to surrender to the flow of life, to be creative and sensual. It resonates with our second chakra and sexual, creative center, Svadhisthana.
- Find any kind of water source. A pond, a river, a stream, a lake or the ocean. Just stare in the water (or if possible, go bathe in it!), the longer the better. Breathe deep into your lower belly and feel the ebb and flow of your breath connect to the fluid quality of water.
Affirmation: I feel.. (sensual, creative, joyful)
Fire gives us focus and willpower, it transforms one substance into another. It connects us to the third chakra, Manipura or the solar plexus, around and above the navel.
- Light a candle or a bonfire and sit silently to stare into the flames. Let your eyes absorb the light and heat and allow it to reach every cell of your being, especially the area of the solar plexus.
Affirmation: I manifest.. (my dreams, my strength, my light)
Air is all about movement, change and freedom. It is the element that resonates with our fourth chakra, Anahata, the heart-center of love, compassion and gratitude.
- You can take a walk outside on a windy day, or just open the windows in our home to let the wind blow through and refresh any stagnant air. Breathe deeply and feel your lungs and heart expand and swell up with pure love.
Affirmation: I love.. (whatever you are grateful for)
Ether is the limitless space in which all else exists, constantly expanding. It connects us to our throat, the fifth chakra, Vishuddha, the center of communication and expression.
- Settle yourself in meditation to connect with the vastness of the universe. Feel yourself expand on every breath you take. Be the space in which your thoughts and emotions come and go, without reacting to them. Listening to elevating music on headphones can help. Or if you are in nature where you can look up to a star filled sky, even better!
Affirmation: I express.. (my true nature/ my talents/ my truth)
Creating a sacred space for yourself
Even if you are living in a house with little privacy, try to create something like an altar or a shrine that can help you tap into the qualities of the elements that you feel most drawn to. It can even be your nightstand or the corner of a table. You can use a stone for earth, a piece of fruit or a conch to represent water, a candle for fire, incense for air and ether, or any kind of symbol that helps you to visualise and embody the energy of the elements. Whenever you look at the altar, take a few deep breaths and say your affirmation out loud. These simple steps can help you create a sense of connection with nature around you, even if you live in the middle of a city. From here you will slowly start noticing more flow in your daily life, more moments of synchronicity.
I want to end this blog with the famous prayer that says it all. You can change the name of God into anything that helps you connect with your deeper Self.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change,
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference…”
*Blog written by Maija Klamer – resident yoga teacher and retreat leader at Eden*