Yoga teacher Karena Virginia discusses the collective grief of COVID-19 and what it can teach us. Plus, six tips to jumpstart your own deep healing process.
My heart is racing, and I feel that empty longing sensation in my stomach like something was taken from me. It must be 3 a.m. again. Did I say or post something too personal yesterday? Was I too much? Was I hiding in my cocoon all day not doing enough for the world? Was I doing too much activism again? Protesting again. Too much? Not enough?
Nauseous and hot. My mind runs through the day and evening before as if someone else is lying in this body right now shaming me for my existence. Did I allow too much freedom for the kids? Did they wash their hands after going outside? Did they really stay six-feet apart? Am I numbing myself when I help others overcome addiction?
Once again, I’m ruminating on the small things to prevent myself from feeling the real grief and longing in my soul. The grief and the regrets, and the longing for traditions, and moments and time with loved ones that were taken for granted are too painful to feel. Shame. What kind of yogi am I?
What I’m feeling is trauma. It’s collective and ancestral trauma. It is not just me. We are all grieving. Something very painful is happening as we rebirth ourselves, and it feels like some kind of very deep intense healing.
Can you feel it too?
The Persistence of Ancestral Trauma
In this time of global pandemic, we are collectively healing ancestral karma, while we are being told to stay home. The message is clear: It is not safe to step out of your home. Do not use your voice. Do not reveal secrets. Do not speak of herbs or spells, and, by all means, never speak truth to power. You will die if you do. There is danger outside. It can kill, and it is killing. It can strip finances and security. Hide.
The virus is invisible, but it is taking lives and jobs and creating absolute chaos in our world. We feel it even if we are not watching the daily news. Our bodies know.
Our bodies hold scores of lifetimes, and our cells hold scores of generations. We are imprisoned in our homes, our bodies, and our cellular memories. And we want to fight for peace and we want to call out the abuse of power that has been perpetuating the systemic abuse and racism for way too long. How do we run and protest for peace when we are trapped indoors and inside old stories of unworthiness and shame.
I don’t like when animals are used for testing, but this study of mice proves what our cells know. Our DNA can wire us for shame, fear, and playing small. The study took a group of mice and wafted the smell of cherry blossoms into their habitat while also exposing them to anxiety-provoking stimuli. The mice exhibited a fear response whenever they smelled cherry blossoms from then on. However, when they tested several generations of offspring of those mice that were never exposed to the anxiety provoking stimuli, they still responded with fear anytime they smelled cherry blossoms.
If our great grandparents experienced persecution, war, illness, inequality, oppression, abuse, racism, or other major traumas, those traumas are still lingering in our DNA. And, on top of that, those of us who are highly sensitive are feeling the pain of the world while also dealing with our own personal grief. This is an intense time, so we must be compassionate with ourselves.
Healing Ourselves to Heal the World
The good news is that we can heal. We can heal these traumas for our own children, nieces, nephews, neighborhood kids, and so on. Actually, I believe we are being called to heal our ancestral lineage right now. Marching for human rights is spiritual. Calling out broken systems is spiritual. Yelling from rooftops to end racism is spiritual. Anytime we create change for the better of this Earth, we are embodying the spiritual within us.
Anger can propel us into action. The old story that anger is “not enlightened” is changing. Denying anger was a historic tactic to keep us trapped in a cage. Mother Earth is teaching us to say “no more” to abuse, oppression, repression, assault, racism, and destruction of this sacred land we walk on.
I also believe we are becoming butterflies, and this time in the cocoon is the chrysalis. I truly believe this time of “reset” is preparing us for the miraculous. And I am not one to use that word lightly. I have used my voice for change, and have been hated for it. I have received death threats and I have felt deep shame and pain. I have experienced PTSD and the excruciating pain of loss, and I am a white woman with privilege. How do people of color who stand up to injustice feel when they are attacked for being spiritual warriors?
Being a highly sensitive person is not easy. Our energetic immune systems are delicate, and we ache for a better world. We long for peace and justice. We hurt for others, and we feel our own pain as if it is burning our skin. We are angry. We are confused. We feel boxed in, and our souls are crying out: “no more.”
6 Ways to Start the Healing Process
Here are some tips that have helped me connect with myself, my intuition, and others during this time of social distancing, when feelings of anxiety, pain, shame, and fear are so prevalent:
1. Feel it
I have learned through deep pain and shame that the only way forward is to lovingly allow myself to deeply feel and express the fear, rage, shock, panic, sadness, anxiety, disappointment, and despair. How much of what you are feeling is yours? Is it an energetic weight? Is it an ancestral pattern? Is it collective grief? Can you feel it to heal it? Locate the sensation. Trauma creates a story so we can make sense of the energy moving through us. How true is the story? Is it located in that part of the body that aches? Ask yourself this question: what percentage of this ache is yours? 80%? 60%? 40 percent? For the portion of the ache that is not yours, think about what can you do to help others. When we help one another we speed up collective healing.
2. Ask your guides to assist you
Placing your forehead on the floor so it is lower than your heart in a child’s pose helps quiet the mind and open the heart .I like to say this prayer: “Dear Divine one, please eliminate the ache in my body, mind, and soul that is creating this heaviness. Send angels to lift the fear and darkness that is not mine and bring it back to source so it can be transmuted into love and light. May the alchemy begin. And so it is. So it is. So it is.”
3. Move your body
Shake. Move the trauma. Dance. Tap. Massage your body. Sweep your skin with your hands to release the love hormone oxytocin. Hug yourself. Hold yourself. And just breathe.. Find compassion for yourself. Have you been giving your power away? Change up your practice if you need to, but keep doing a daily practice. Whatever your practice is to elevate. Yoga, meditation, running outside. Stay steady. Cry if you need to. Scream if you need to. Move the trauma. Move it again and again and again. Recognize that the highest teacher at this time is inside you.. Miracles occur naturally when we recognize how loved we are and we elevate our vibration. We are being called to reclaim our sovereignty. We are growing and evolving. We made mistakes, and that is what life is about. It will be ok.
4. Make space for miracles
Clear away anything that clutters your home, your mind, and your spirit. Set boundaries when people send you frightening texts or videos. Once you have created that space ask spirit guides to help you serve humanity: “What will you have me do? How will you have me do it? Who will you have me do it with? When?” Then listen. You may be called to use your voice. You may be called to disrupt a system that is hurting innocent people. You may be called to stand up and fight for human rights and equality. Listen. Observe. Contemplate, and take action from the heart instead of reacting from the overthinking mind. A new world is emerging, but we need to stand up for ourselves and others.
5. Spend time in nature
If you feel ungrounded, go outside and walk around barefoot. Ground yourself. This new earth has so many secrets to reveal. Look at the flowers. They are blossoming. There is hope. There is a rebirth. You deserve happiness. You deserve prosperity. You are healing so many layers of ancestral trauma, and spirit guides and angels are helping you. Staying home does not mean you are caged in. Bloom. Even flowers bloom in pots. They just need nurturing and love. Give that to yourself.. Keep breathing through the stuck energy so you can free yourself. Relax to attract. You do not need to push or pull. Ask and allow instead. Gifts will appear with ease the more you follow this law. It is the law of love, and it is not a bypass of any sort. It is the law of truth.
6. Hold hands with others energetically
Create a new community with people who feel the same way. If your old community is still working for you, host gatherings–both digitally and physically using social distancing measures. It’s time to unlearn ingrained beliefs that perpetuate the problems like jealousy, competition, abuse and racial inequality. Listen to others, and listen to your heart. Let go of what others think or say about you. Observe yourself when you are putting an unhealthy system or community before your divine calling. Be true to the voice in your heart, and live with every action from that space. It takes all of us together in a circle with open hearts for this change to happen.
Want to learn how to tap into your innate kundalini energy to transform your practice and life? Join Karena in her online course with Yoga Journal, called Empowered Kundalini.
Read more: yogajournal.com