written by:
Suzanne Nagel
April 20, 2020


...Been so confused. Honestly, I have no idea what is going on anymore. I prop open the computer to write this email and it shows me my prior emails in a list. I look back on the past email in the beginning of March with my mouth agape. I wish I could have told myself the real truth of what was coming. I wish I had been told by someone the truth about what was coming. I am semi glad I didn't know because I don't think I could comprehend surviving like this, UNTIL I HAD TO.

I went to Target today because I had to. With a mask on. The lady on the loudspeaker overhead warns us to stay six feet apart and to wear a face mask. I look around and feel like June in The Handmaid's Tale. Like I might just take off my mask and start running down the aisle like a maniac. Of course I don't, but the thought did pop into my brain, as other very morose and strange thoughts do lately.

Here are some examples:
1. Am I bad person for being sad that my yoga studio is shut down when people are dying?

2. How am I going to survive without an income? How am I going to pay the bills? Will I be evicted if I can't?

3. Life will never be the same.

4. How come I haven't heard anything from the government about my assistance applications and am I ever going to?

5. Why can't I be more patient?

6. I wish my son could come home from Boston and I could hug him.

7. Is this really happening?

8. Why can't we, our country/our leaders get more tests to the cities?

9. Why can't people work together to help solve the problem instead of always fighting with each other?  

And on and on.. and then I do what I have to... I turn on Hulu, grab a glass of wine and call it a day. But not before I cry my eyes out. I want to be really honest. This is terrible for everyone everywhere and small business owners like myself most definitely have had the shock of a lifetime. We shuttered our doors to do our part to help everyone flatten the curve and save lives, foregoing our own income and livelihoods and in the meantime, the government is leaving us behind, giving the assistance to the big companies. Basically ignoring us. Your yoga studio, your spin studio, your Thai place, your coffeeshop, your nail salon and your hair dresser, your local pub, your dog groomer, your massage therapist, your favorite date night spot, small boutique store, etc. All non-essential things. But things none the less that you loved in your life. And I have not seen one of them receive any assistance. NOT ONE.

Sadly, people will argue over when to go back to work, when to do yoga again, when we are truly safe, and whose fault all of this is. I have totally given up on politics. Whatever spark I had that made me think that citizens can enact change and elect leaders to protect them, and help create better lives and futures for their children, is snuffed out for right now. I'm just taking it one day at a time. And I'm allowing myself to feel that way for now. I am usually the person who is out front leading the charge, standing on a soap box, shaking things up, and always trying to fix and solve everything. And this time, all I can do is be patient. I don't have any control over anything and NEVER HAVE I EVER... felt so helpless.

I am turning to my yoga teachings right now, as I don't think I ever really had begun to grasp them like I do now. Patanjali describes in the Sutras, the five kleshas, or obstacles, to living a happy peaceful existence. Maybe these will resonate with you. They are:

1. Avidya: Misunderstanding/Not seeing clearly.
Each of us has a perception of what the world is like, made up of our past experiences, expectations, and what we believe, meaning that each of us has created our own realities, which could be entirely different from each other. When we are not seeing clearly, we believe that our thoughts are true, that our perceptions are reality, and that what we individually believe is ‘right’ is the truth.

2. Asmita: Ego focused/"I", "Me"
The ego isn't necessarily "evil". The ego was originally supposed to be the part of us that combined our nature/nurture, and made decisions based on logic. The problem arises however, when we become ego-focused. The more ‘I’ am the most important thing in the world, and the more focus put upon ‘me’, the more pressure ‘I’ feel, because it seems as though the whole world revolves around ‘me’.

3. Raga: Attachment/Craving  
Feeling attached to pleasure can happen instantaneously – with the taste of chocolate, the smell of coffee, or the glass of wine.. All of these things create a release of chemicals that stimulate the brain to want more, and if we continue to give it more  we can become attached to it. In terms of relationships, we can become attached or dependent upon other people if they seem to give us some form of safety or provide affection. We become attached to material things as well.  While these things feel good initially, they often create a form of suffering when taken away or when they are over.  We often feel sad and want what we are attached to back. In Buddhist terms, this is known as ‘craving’, and is a huge cause of suffering. If we’re not satisfied, we’re craving, and if we obtain that which we crave, we cement that attachment within us, which means we’re never truly in the present moment.

4. Dvesa -Aversion /Repulsion
Being influenced by aversion can lead to labeling everything as either "good" or "bad." For example, aversion can manifest as believing a certain group people are good while others are bad. This results in a state of disharmony with those who don't share the same views and, in extreme cases, can lead to discrimination and even war.

5. Abhinivesa: Fear of Death/Clinging to Life
The ultimate fear is the one that could be seen as the root of fear itself. Even though it’s a hard task to ask anyone to truly let go of the fear of what happens at the end of life, releasing the grip of fearfully clinging to life can have an immediate effect that impacts all areas of life. Rather than a clinging, this lighter holding of life makes us more open to new experiences, more grateful of life, more appreciative of our loved ones, more adventurous, with less attachment, less hatred, less fear, more engagement in everyday life, and the ability to be truly present and immersed in the moment of now.

I have noticed these kleshas showing up right now daily in different ways for me and all of us collectively.  And I think the first step towards peace is Awareness.

Finally, I want all of you who have supported the studio and continued to practice with us online to know that you have given us hope and made us more resilient and shored up our resolve to keep showing up. All of your teachers miss you more than you can imagine  Maybe it's goofy how yoga studios become like a mini communities and each studio is all over social media missing their students. But I have to say, it is the damn truth.  These mini yoga communities all over the world are places of refuge and connection for so many students and teachers. It is a common ground we have. Please continue to share our Online Platform with anyone and everyone, shop local, and support small business.

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