AUTUMN 2020 - thoughts induced by pandemics

Submitted by Bijam on Sun, 25/10/2020 - 21:41

Hari OM everyone

I hope you're all as well as you can be during this challenging time, and enjoying the benefits of your yoga practice and the essential contact with fresh air and green spaces. 

Classes

My last real-life class was in March 2020.  It took me a couple of weeks to gather my scattered wits and find out how to Zoom, but classes restarted online at the end of April.  I set myself up in my small yoga room, laptop precariously balanced on 3 yoga blocks to get it to the right height, and began.  A few weeks later I learned how to record classes and tried to master sending them out, but I admit that's hit-and-miss at present.  Onwards and ever upwards. It's a real shame that quite a few people can't access Zoom for various reasons.

Currently I'm running three classes a week and the most recent theme has been the five Elements or Tattwas in Sanskrit.  It is said that everything we do and think is under the influence of these 5 elements - earth, water, fire, air and space.  They are not the kind of thing we think about as "earth", "fire" etc but  created by different energy or pranic vibrations.  In balancing them we can balance ourselves. I plan to continue this theme into next year by including chakras, as all the chakras except ajna have an associated element.  

The Dechmont seminars

These monthly seminars have sadly been interrupted, the last one being on March 14th, but at least we managed to complete the "Prana, Pranayama and Neuroscience" course.  

So what now?  Zoom to the rescue I hope.

The current pandemic has prompted me to think about wellness-or perhaps better, well-being, both of individuals, society and our precious planet Earth.   Addressing this topic I'm aware of the overwhelming amount of information readily available from books, the media, podcasts, apps and so on, but thought I'd give it a go anyway, and perhaps offer it as a topic for the next series of monthly Saturday seminars at Dechmont (now on Zoom of course).  

The concept of well-being is by no means new but we do seem to struggle to find a definition precise enough to be acceptable to everyone and able to be researched to find out ways of having the best well-being we can, perhaps without indulging in unproven and expensive interventions by celebrities.  

Whatever the definitions, having Covid definitely isn't conducive to well-being!  Individual physical and psychological health and indeed the important aspect of society's and Earth's well-being are all at risk, not only from the virus but also by the responses of our various governments.  In the end who can tell whether the different styles and types of lock-down, whilst awaiting the creation of an effective vaccine,  are managing a difficult pandemic well or badly; or possibly even creating more harm than good?  A problem for far greater minds than mine to solve.  

I have, as many of you know, an abiding interest in the mental health side of well-being, from my previous profession, and cherish yoga's contribution to that. Recently I read, linked from a newsletter by Laurence Demarco (Laurence@senscot.net) a paper by a New Zealand psychologist, Tim Lomas PhD,  describing something called the Global Wellbeing Initiative, set up in 2019 in collaboration with the  Wellbeing for Planet Earth Foundation: what a beautiful  name. 

Most research into physical and mental health, an important component of well-being, has been done from a Western perspective, both the researchers and the people studied.   I chuckled at the acronym, new to me, describing the subjects of such research - WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic).   Most of the world's population of course doesn't come into this category. 

There is recognition that Western societies may value "Feeling good" as meaning high arousal, excitement etc; whereas in Eastern society greater value is placed on low arousal forms of feeling good such as peace and tranquillity, balance and harmony, meaning in life, relationship with nature and resilience - yoga, anyone?

I think I may have found a rich seam to tap for future "Dechmont" online seminars.  Great to see Eastern thinking being respected by Western researchers!

You'll find details of my Zoom classes on the Classes and Courses page - same times, just on Zoom. If you haven't already installed it, you can download the free zoom.us app from the App store for Apple users and  Google Playstore for Android users.  I send out a reminder by email each week and it's pretty simple to log in - just click on the underlined link I put in the email.  This brings you to a "Waiting room" and I let you in a few moments before the class starts.  One of the features I'm using is the ability (if you have time) to stay on afterwards, un-mute your microphone, and enjoy a chat. 

If you're not already participating in one of my Zoom classes, just send an email and I'll add you to the list.

Warmly, Bijam