Poetry As Sanctuary – A monthly column where poets from the Poetry of Diaspora of Silicon Valley pen their South Asian experiences.
As a community in the Bay Area with strong roots in India, we have been befuddled in our responses to our newfound freedom from the pandemic scenario while holding onto the complexity of the continued struggles of our friends and family back in India.
I could relate to the isolation and suffering of the pandemic from when I dealt with a difficult illness for some years with no break of ‘normalcy’. I decidedly trained myself to accept my new normal, and then the days that felt really hard became just like any ‘normal’ day. It lifted the burden of “Why Me” and made it somewhat more acceptable to live through the ordinary pain of a seemingly extraordinary situation (or vice versa).
It helps to blur the line between ordinary and extraordinary, whichever end we think us to be on. When extraordinary strength is required for long-term challenging situations, it helps to remember that even ‘normal’ life feels the same periodically.
And when we think of ourselves as ordinary and normal, it helps to remember that we hold the potential for the extraordinary. When life is ‘normal’ we take for granted that only some special people have strength. We forget that they are choosing to be strong. All of us have the choice to go a bit beyond our comfort zone. Extraordinary resilience can emerge out of simple shifts in perspectives.
Choice of perspectives
Is a gift of universal views
Though reality seems tentative
Be keen on your objective
As we choose to look at things differently
Struggle becomes our responsibility
As we refuse to think at things rigidly
Change becomes an indisputable possibility
When it seems like stuck for infinity
That’s when actually life is flowing rapidly
Let go and we get unstuck very easily
Choose what you want to change
Change what you choose to change
Insist to receive from what you perceive
Find it within you to realize your view
The perceived may be turbulent
When you be present and persistent
Look at and let go of being resistant
The received is sure to be opulent
Be relentless in pursuing life
A glorious one now that you are at it
And watch how life becomes relentless
In what it has to offer you
It is up to you how much you catch it
All things big and small when dropped to the felt sense become our internal experiences. No experience is ordinary or extraordinary, in some ways. Just because it happens to everyone and is normal, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be affected. If our thoughts and emotions are taking over that means our experience is real. It is affecting the quality of our life. Acceptance is being aware of all of that.
When fear grips, it means some perceived and real experiences of the world around us have left us with no control over how we feel and choose. When our system is out of balance the fear might bring up some pain or symptoms in the body. We might feel agitation, worry, or confusion in the mind, we lose the capacity to trust and feel positive. It becomes a struggle even when we have had a taste of divine faith before. We now seem to have lost the ability to be congruent with the core of our original being.
It is helpful at such times to create experiences to influence our system in the direction of balance. This can be done in various ways. A breathing practice that brings the body and mind to a calmer & clearer state of being, time in solitude, or nature with nurturing activities. Reading and music provide that relief for some. Sometimes we just need honest conversations with people who can act as authentic mirrors to us. Either a friend or mentor who reinforces and channels that sense of trust, faith, or divine connection back in our system.
There is tremendous rich value in this process of intentional shifts between imbalance & balance, ordinary & extraordinary, and fear & faith. I am blessed to be a receiver of such reinforcements from friends and teachers that I reach out to. I am also grateful to have opportunities to facilitate such shifts through the yoga classes that I teach in group and private sessions.
Pragalbha Doshi lives with her husband and 2 teenage boys in San Jose, CA. As a yoga teacher, she facilitates therapy & change for people who struggle with chronic symptoms of stress, physical & emotional, and who want a productive & fulfilling life www.yogasaar.com. She is deeply grateful to the community Poetry of Diaspora in Silicon Valley and founder Jyoti Bachani for having a friendly affirmative space to read poetry aloud for a very generous audience during their weekly virtual meetings.