Finding Alignment in the Time of COVID-19

It took a lot of convincing. After all, it was nice out and there was work to be done in the garden, a painting to finish, a crochet project in limbo, and things to be cleaned. I only had those two and a half hours to decide how I wanted to spend them while my son took a nap. There were so many options, and I admit that I visited many of them before I finally convinced myself to grab a blanket and a bundle of dried sage and head off into the forest to meditate. Since beginning our self-isolation, I’ve been using a lot of my free time and energy to produce yoga content to stay connected with my dear community and I spend the rest of my time with my son. It’s not surprising that I’ve been feeling a little spread thin as I externalize all my energy with the intention of serving others, which is probably why it was a little harder to accept that I needed to take some time to internalize some of this energy. 

And I’m so glad that I did.

I do have a regular meditation practice, but since my alone time is fleeting, I often use a timer or become a little distracted by trying to keep my practice within a fifteen minute window. Yesterday, I left my phone in the house, taking only the essentials. There are two large boulders in the forest behind my house that I enjoy sitting on, so I put down my blanket, lit my smudge stick, and settled in, attempting to clear my mind from any expectations. 

What I had was a profound experience, guided by a deep chakral connection. This revelatory state opened up a lot within my mind, but I’m not sitting down here to write about that today. Rather, I’ve been thinking a lot about chakral balance/imbalance as it applies to daily life and in particular, what we are globally experiencing now from covid-19.

Before I go too far down the rabbit hole here, I’ll give a brief explanation of what the chakras are for those of you who may be wondering. 

The word chakra can be translated from Sanskrit to “wheel” and in common depictions, the chakras are shown as mandala-like wheels. There are seven chakras attributed to specific energy points along the spine and they help to direct prana throughout the body. Prana is the subtle energy force that is found in all things, all the things. Using the imagery of the wheel, when the chakras are balanced and working together, prana is able to flow more successfully through the body, the petals of the wheels interlocking with one another in a peaceful union. When the chakras are imbalanced, stagnant or excessive energy can create blockages or deficiencies that can manifest in physical, bodily reactions. 

With some insight from the book, Chakra Yoga by Anodea Judith… in a nutshell, we have…

Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra)

Location: the very base of the spine, coccyx, perineum

Controls: Feet, legs, forming a base

Color: Red

Deficient: Ungrounded, underweight

Excessive; Heaviness, lethargy, obesity

Balanced: Stable, safe, secure, supported, basic needs are met

Svadisthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra)

Location: Just below the navel

Controls: Hips, sexual organs, lower abdomen

Color: Orange

Deficient: Rigid, dry, numb, insecure

Excessive: Sloppy, watery, overindulgent, overemotional

Balanced: Graceful movement, creativity, healthy sexual expression

Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus Chakra)

Location: Solar Plexus, navel

Controls: Digestive organs, ribs, personal power

Color: Yellow

Deficient: Weakness, fatigue, passivity

Excessive: Dominating, hyperactivity

Balanced: Mastery, responsibility, independence, decision-making ability

Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra)

Location: Chest

Controls: Diaphragm, respiratory system, heart

Color: Green

Deficient: Judgement, isolation, fear of intimacy, defensiveness

Excessive: Codependency, attention-seeking, self-victimization or martyrdom

Balanced: Radiance, generosity, compassion, appreciation, capacity to love

Vishuddhi Chakra (Throat Chakra)

Location: Throat

Controls: Shoulders, throat and neck, mouth, ears

Color: Bright blue

Deficient: Shy, quiet, restrained, secretive

Excessive: Loud, gossipy, scattered, telling lies, inability to listen

Balanced: Truthful, coherent, turning ideas to reality, communicative

Ajna Chakra (Third Eye Chakra)

Location: Between the brows

Controls: Eyes, forehead, pineal gland

Color: Indigo

Deficient: Denial, cynicism, ignorance, near-sightedness

Excessive: Delusion, hallucination, over-indulgence in fantasy

Balanced: Clarity, intuitive vision, wisdom, mysticism, inspiration

Sahasrara Chakra (Crown Chakra)

Location: Crown of the head

Controls: Brain, nervous system

Color: Violet, white

Deficient: Materialism, disconnection, closed-mindedness

Excessive: Too much intellect, spiritual addiction, spaciness

Balanced: Enlightenment, ecstasy, higher consciousness, presence

Hopefully that gives you a brief overview of the chakras and how they interact with one another and within the body. Now, excuse me as I go off on a tangent…

As a society, we are at a crossroads of increasing technology and increasing, perhaps even irrevocable, effects on the environment. We spend more and more time on our devices; our memories, experiences, knowledge, and connections all floating up in a (or the) cloud. As we’ve already determined above, this could be interpreted as a sign of excessive crown chakra energy. Our ability to instantly gain knowledge on any variety of subjects is easily taken for granted, yet we are more dependent on it than we know. We have a tendency to live less in the moment, disconnecting from the present to check in on social media or the news. The internet does offer us a platform to use our voices, yet some of us are still out there throwing needless insults, posting “fake news”, or wasting hours upon hours on social media. The other, more optimistic, side of this crossroads is the global connection that we now have, the expansion of “common knowledge”, and again, this platform to be heard; to spread messages of positivity and the impact we make as humans, on each other and on the environment. 

I’m sure we could look back at all of the chakras and be able to identify traits of imbalance from each within our humanity, and again, I’m not writing this with the intent of nitpicking our society. However, I have been contemplating the effects that covid-19 is having on our collective chakral energy.

When I first began making comparisons of this imbalance to the struggle we are facing from this virus, a few things became apparent immediately. If we look at the physical effect of the virus, we can see that it has the frightening capacity to overwhelm the respiratory system (heart chakra), exhibiting itself in a cough or sore throat (throat chakra), confusion (third eye chakra), or headaches and fever (crown chakra). I’m not ignorant to the fact that the virus can cause other problems, but in general, these are the symptoms that are being reported the most. Considering this perspective, we can see that it is mainly affecting the upper chakras.

Now, I’ll just take a hot second to delve a little deeper here. The heart chakra is the center of these energy systems with three above and three below; a bridge between our earthly and ethereal points. And since the heart chakra controls our respiratory system, which we know already is the hardest hit area from this virus, we can consider this to be not only the epicenter of our energy, but of the physical damage being caused from the virus. From this, we can determine that there is an intense reaction by the upper chakras to covid-19.  

As I stated above, we have already been experiencing a certain “dwelling upon” within the upper chakras as a society saturated in technological advancements. Due to this, we can look at the effect this is having on the lower chakras; feeling ungrounded in the form of anxiety, feeling insecure in the form of jealousy, or feeling fatigue in the form of depression. When we apply this to the covid-19 pandemic, we can see the lower chakras being confronted in big ways. Anxiety turning to genuine fear, insecurity heightening from uncertainty, and deepening depression due to isolation. 

I’m going to take a moment to say that these fears, emotions, and reactions that we are experiencing in the face of covid-19 are valid. There is no user manual for this. It’s terrifying to think of how unprepared we were for something like this to happen. It’s. Fucking. Terrifying. And it’s okay that we feel like this. We need to feel this way if we are going to be able to process what is happening. However unprepared we were for this, we can’t forget that we also have powerful means to survive; people willing to risk their lives, years of advanced medical research, and the availability to share information on how to deal and the measures of protection we should be taking. 

And now I can finally begin to explain my thesis, which so far has only been mentioned in the title of this essay: how covid-19 can help us to find alignment. Before I get into it, I want to say that I am completely and uncomfortably aware of the intense gravity of this situation. Thousands of people are dying. In my home state of New York, we have hundreds dying every day. I have a lot of empathy for the afflicted, their families and friends, and their healthcare workers. I know that my personal experience of this virus may drastically and tragically differ from that of someone else and in no way am I trying to sugarcoat or deny what is happening. I understand that for many people, this will be a time they will look back on as the worst of their lives and perhaps they can never see any merit of the situation. I want to say that I see you! And I don’t expect you to change your perspective or adjust your experience. I can only send you my high vibe support and love to help you get through this challenging time. 

This brings me to it. I truly think that for many of us, we are being presented with an opportunity. An opportunity that extends beyond being productive, being creative, being supportive, being a home-school teacher, or any of the roles we are trying to fill while self-isolating or quarantining. No, this could be an opportunity to find energetic alignment in a time of great crisis. Because of the obvious physical effects covid-19 has on the upper chakras, chakras whose attributes and imbalances can viewed as more metaphorical, we have a chance to heal the lower chakras, those that are in their nature are more physical and perhaps more neglected in our modern lives.

While we take measures to heal or protect the at-risk areas of the upper chakras, we also need to be nurturing those below. This opportunity is affording those of us who are still healthy to get back to our roots. To go beyond our regular, sometimes superficial anxieties, to process the very authentic fears that we are now facing. Being forced, in a sense, to remain in our homes is grounding us. It’s literally like we’re all teenagers who’ve been “grounded.” And those of you who have experienced what it’s like to be grounded as a teenager know that it’s very easy to slip into a state of anger, self-pity, or even self-destruction. We have to remember that we are not being punished (although some environmental-impact philosophies may find debate in this). Staying home is helping to save lives; our lives and the lives of others. It’s how we decide to make use of our time at home that will make the biggest difference.

Those of you who know me, know that I’ve become a big proponent for productivity. I came to the realization a couple of years ago that I spent too much time not getting done the things that actually mattered to my soul to waste any more time just sitting around. However, I realize that this just does not resonate with many, many people. So I’m not here asking you to get up, make your bed, clean your house, write a novel. If you want to do those things, that’s fantastic! I absolutely promote staying busy, but like I said, that’s just not how some people are able to cope in this situation. So if you need to lie in bed until 2pm or fall off your diet or leave the dishes for a couple of days because your energy just doesn’t lie within those things, that’s okay! What I do urge you to do is to use this extra time to be productive within. You can still practice energy conservation in positive ways, focusing on self-care, on trying to stay connected with friends and family, or getting more sleep rather than trying to knock off a to-do list. 

As a yoga teacher and wellness professional, I can’t not speak to the importance of moving your body. Even if that means just getting out of bed and sitting next to an open window. Ideally, this is a great time to find yourself outside, if you can. Touch a tree, sit in the grass, put your hands in some water. I’ll go ahead and quote Steppenwolf (the band) here: “like a true nature’s child, we were born, born to be wild.” There are few better ways to find your roots than to get outside. I know that some of you cannot do this due to being quarantined and lack of yard access. If this is the case, spend some time with your houseplants, diffuse some patchouli or cedarwood oil, prepare a meal with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, or, beets, and if you don’t have any of those things available to you, simply fill a bowl with water and salt and keep it in the room with you. Salt is a powerful energy conductor and is also of the earth and can help you to feel connected even when you have to remain indoors. 

Many of us are isolating with our families and seeing more of them than ever before. This can lead to a lot of frustration as we just try navigating new elements of our relationships. If you’re like me, you’ve hidden in the bathroom a time or two just to get away. Alone time in isolation is very important, but we can still feel guilty about taking it. The key to getting over this guilt is to communicate with your household. Don’t be afraid to tell them you need some time away, I’m sure they need it too. Conversely, you may also be experiencing, whether through yourself or a member of your household, extra codependency out of anxiety. Again, communication is key. You can still make it known that you need an hour alone and also affirm that you see their fear and are there to support them. Sometimes all we need are a few words of reassurance. 

In deepening our connection to our spaces, to our loved ones, and to ourselves, I truly believe that we will collectively emerge from this pandemic as a more understanding, more compassionate, and more present whole. This is the first time in any of our lives that we are all, literally all of us around the globe, going through the same thing. Whether we like it or not, we are connected and while we will continue to see and experience tragedy from this situation, these are bonds of connection that, if we are willing to recognize and accept, can become a force stronger than we’ve ever known. Technology has shown us connection in a tangible way, bringing it right to the palms of our hands. Surviving and living through this pandemic can similarly bring that connection to our souls. We are a global community. We are sharing the same fear, the same hope, and the same uncertainty. 

If we make the attempt to nurture ourselves at the deepest level during this time, we might be able to find balance between base security and the distractions of our modern lives. We find ourselves again at the crossroads, the bridge, the heart chakra, the center. And what does this show us? That all roads point back to compassion. We are being confronted in a big way and compassion alone won’t cure this crisis, but when we invite compassion to reside within our actions and reactions we can find progress in the evolution of our humanity. We will never be a perfect species, but we can find moments of perfection within connection, to each other, and to this beautiful earth. 

I’m sending you all a virtual hug right now. I hope you are healthy and well and I thank you so much for spending some time to read this.