I have chanted the sound Om before and after yoga classes thousands of times.
When I felt and heard the sound of Om reverberating off the walls in the actual room of my home yoga studio in Columbus, Ohio, for the first time in more than a year, I was awestruck. The simple beauty of voices coming together in shared practice, connecting to each other and to Universal Consciousness, made tears well up in my eyes.
That strong reaction happened even as I had grown to appreciate practicing at home over Zoom over the past year. I learned to intently tune to the energy of the Om while chanting with only the sound of my teacher’s voice through the warbly computer speakers. I learned to love practicing “alone” at home, which freed me to practice truly however I wanted.
But the power of being in the room together was palpable. Though I felt our connection over the internet, being together in one room allowed mysterious energy to meet embodiment. The experience was magical.
Yet, even with that powerful energy moving in us and through us, I felt anxiety creep in. I am not prone to anxiety in general. I am fully vaccinated and have no secondary health concerns. Still, anxiety wormed around my consciousness. At points in the practice when I could hear breathing sounds from another person, I felt my mind retreat from my body, telling me that breathing in a room with others is dangerous. That worry then lodged back in my body like nervous butterflies flitting around my stomach.
This anxiety can be as dangerous for me as the risks of COVID. Even if the risk for me and other vaccinated people to gather together is small, anxiety takes us outside of ourselves, outside the present moment. We worry instead about things we cannot see. We wish we could control things outside our control. COVID has done something to my body-mind that I can scarcely name and don’t entirely understand yet.
So I will do the work: breathe, do my daily practice, change the daily practice if necessary. I will chant the Om, breathing myself back into the present if my mind wanders into anxiety. I will try over and over again to embrace these magical moments in which the senses of human bodies form universal connections.
I’m certain this challenge will make me a better teacher, having even more empathy for the anxious who come to me for help in focusing, grounding and connecting. I hope we all learn to listen better to our bodies and what they tell us they need. I wish for greater connection and empathy in a world that desperately needs it.
Lessen Anxiety: Do you want to alleviate your anxiety by connecting with mindful, thoughtful and grounded community? My upcoming events address the anxiety that may arise from this transition:
- Getting Restful Sleep: Yoga/Meditation of the Month, Sunday, June 20, 2021, 8 PM EDT
- Happy Hour Networking: Returning to the Office, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 4 PM EDT
- Freedom from Stress: July 4th Restorative Yoga and Meditation, Sunday, July 4, 2021, 2 PM EDT
They are online and therefore accessible with a phone, tablet or computer and are COVID-safe. You will also be totally free to practice your way in the privacy of your own home.