Hridaya’s Response to the Coronavirus
News, Resources, and Online Events
In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, our center here at Hridaya France is temporarily closed until the 26th of June. We are continuing to review and will provides updates dependent, of course, on how the situation evolves.
We are accepting registrations for on-site programs starting with our Yoga Module 1 and Discovery Weekend at the end of June, but we do not recommend that you book flights and travel until a later date once we have more information.
In the meantime, we have created this page to keep everyone in the Hridaya Yoga community updated with news, resources, and information about forthcoming online events.
We are fully aware that these are challenging and uncertain times for many people and, with our center closed temporarily, we are inspired to reach out and offer a series of daily events that you can access online and experience from the comfort and safety of your own home.
At-Home 3-Day Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat
From the 19th-21st of June, we will again be offering a 3-Day retreat online with Sahajananda, the founder of Hridaya Yoga. Please click here for more details. We would be delighted if you can join us!
Each week, we are sharing a series of daily meditations, satsangs, and Hatha Yoga classes online. We invite you to come practice with us! For the schedule and further details, please click here for our visual calendar or on the image below.
On the calendar, simply click on the event name to open the link which will enable you to register in advance. Alternatively, the sidebar on this page also shows upcoming events, the titles of which can also be clicked for registering.
May these offerings help cultivate and strengthen your practice and foster stability and centeredness during these challenging times.
All times are listed in Central European Time (CET).
But, although we are living amid events that can overwhelm the mind, they shouldn’t overshadow the Heart. Apart from any strict physical health and hygiene guidelines we may receive, let’s not ignore another very important aspect: our mental hygiene.
Someone recently confessed to me that 95% of his thoughts are about coronavirus—mostly worries, confusion, and fear. This is likely the case for the vast majority of people now, and most of us don’t even realize this new condition of the mind.
Love Is in the Air
We used to quote the statement “Love is in the air” as an experiential expression of being open and immersed in a field of love that is not only personal, but universal. Now, the most common refrain seems to be “Coronavirus is in the air.”
I really hope that it is not literally in the air around us, but it is definitely present in our mental environment. When most of our attention, thoughts, and emotions are there, when news articles, opinion pieces, and projections about its spread are ubiquitous, and videos on YouTube, Facebook, etc., are mostly focused on it, we may develop a kind of pandemic psychosis as well.
Demons and Diseases in Ancient Traditions
In many ancient traditions, diseases (especially those occurring as pandemics) were often associated with a kind of demonic power. This was not only because of a lack of scientific understanding but referred to the subtle dimension of diseases—their associated panic and suffering.
For example, love is disenchanted and lacks poetry and sacredness if we reduce it to what biology and psychology say, subsuming the experience of love under categories such as “hormones,” “brain chemistry,” “the unconscious,” or “sex drive.” Similarly, pandemic diseases carry not just a virus, but a kind of demonic power (of course, the word “demonic” is just a way of dramatizing this subtle dimension). It is unseen and the lack of awareness it engenders poisons souls and minds with thoughts of obsessive fear and confusion. The lengthy shadow of ignorance feeds illusory monsters. A demonic power, even though false, seems real. It’s happening now—we shake in fear at every sneeze and cough (even if it is far from us) or if our throat gets sore.
I am not saying that the biological facts related to coronavirus should be ignored or dismissed. But there is a need to make a distinction between verifiable physiological effects and the psychological effects brought on by fear, between being cautious and panicking.
Love in the Time of Cholera
There is an exquisite novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera, which depicts the beauty of a forbidden love that blossoms after decades of a cholera epidemic… It is a beautiful metaphor for the impregnable power of Love, and an inspiration for our times.
The Meditation Remedy
Remember that in all struggle, agitation, and confusion, the Present Moment, the beauty of the Heart, is still there, waiting for us.
Meditation consists of seeing the facts for precisely what they are, in equanimity, in love, unaffected by fears or desires. When we let go of the burden of beliefs, hopes, and fears, we invite more freedom and spaciousness. We may be confined to a tiny room, but we aren’t bored and never lack space, because in the Heart there is so much space…
The power of the Heart eliminates distracting and obsessive thoughts as they arise. This nourishes a state of clear, centered, awareness. Becoming nothing (by releasing the ego, fears, stories, etc.), we become everything—flowing, blissful, sacred Reality.
There is an old Latin phrase used in the Christian tradition: Crux medicina mundi (“The Cross, medicine of the world”). Paraphrasing, we can say that Self-Enquiry can be the medicine of the world. Thus, it is not the virus that will wear the Corona (the crown), but the Heart!
For Rumi, to be a Sufi meant “to feel joy in the Heart when sorrow appears.” He was referring to the capacity to sublimate personal emotions in the freedom of the Infinite Heart. Of course, even during a pandemic, sorrow can be sublimated in compassion and Love.
Playing a Game with Changing Rules
Right now, humanity seems to be in shock. People are continuing with what they know, with their habits, even though their routines are deeply disturbed or completely overturned. Overall, this sense of constant wavering and shaking simply reveals a humanity that is fragile and confused, far from being mature. Suspicions of bioterrorism and conspiracy theories show that people essentially have less and less trust in the direction the technological world is heading.
This pandemic and, more and more, the entire modern world, is “like playing a game in which the rules are constantly changed without ever being made clear—a game from which one cannot withdraw … and in which one can never return to an older form of the game,” as Alan Watts said.
Giving Ourselves Conscious Shocks
What we are lacking is a fundamental education in awareness, in being present with what is. We forget to embrace what comes, with lucidity and serenity, santosha (contentment)… We neglect the art of dis-identification with the ego, which gives freedom, empathy, and availability to others and the Cosmos. We need an education in deconditioning. Otherwise, we require intense shocks to be awakened, to realize the inconsistency of a culture oriented toward money, material things, and ego-relevance. These are exactly the conditions that maintain the dream state. Such shocks can be beneficial because they can wake us up from the sleep of self-sufficiency.
But we can give ourselves conscious shocks. We can simply be amazed and wonder about world alienation. Rather than running away, ignoring, resisting, or suppressing, we can face the obvious absurdities of our times. We can look into fear, come in contact with it, and learn about its deceiving, unreal nature. It is not about how to escape from it. It is in an unshakable Heart-embrace of distress that awakening happens.
In difficult times, in moments of shock, many people discover the sacred dimension of the Heart by surrendering. Surrender is the open availability to what is. If the need arises for you to sacrifice your selfish desires for others, to take care of others, to help and actively express love, be available.
Availability also means to simultaneously maintain both a fiery inner discipline and a natural, radiant peace. If you must be quarantined for a while, stay in your heart, as if in a meditation retreat, without being bored or haunted by the demons of fear. Remember that, ultimately, each of us stands before the threshold of eternity, alone with ourselves.
Practical Advice for These Times
- The ineffable, the Heart, the Present Moment is always there, available, waiting for you. Even more than before, open to that intimate domain and act from that place…
- The Japanese proverb that states: “Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”
- Freed from projections and hopes, there can be no ground for fear.
- There is no need to make big plans or live in projections; stay in the Present.
- Agitation of the mind pushes people to always do something. In these times, do what is really needed and then witness the useless noise of your mind…
- Laughter, dance, and joy is a deadly virus to panic. The end of fear is the beginning of wisdom.
- Whenever you realize that you are caught in heavy thoughts about yourself, your plans, and your problems, consider others, who may have bigger issues, as well. Keep a global awareness. It is in the nature of worried minds to shrink, of generous hearts to expand.
- Give yourself conscious shocks. Shake yourself from selfishness, awaken, and care more for others.
- Check inside at least two times per day for the sanity of your soul. If you find a predominance of fear, frustration, or agitation, hold fast to the Heart and do not stop meditating until peace returns. Cherish your soul with Love and blessings coming from the infinite reservoir of atman, the Supreme Self.
- Regularly check on the health of your close friends, relatives, and people you care for, especially those most at risk. Communicate, and be available for those in need… Caring for others requires us to more intensively practice everything that can energetically and spiritually support and help other human beings, especially elders.
- Don’t spend more than 15 minutes per day checking the news. And, be sure you are only getting your news from reliable sources. In this way, you avoid becoming obsessed…
- Contemplate the difference between fear and being cautious. Being careful and correctly informed should not be grounded in fear.
- Express determination and integrity.
- Nourish trust in the Heart and despair will starve to death.
- Watch the sky. If you are confined in a room, contemplate the sky of consciousness in your Heart.
- Be aware of spanda, the active power of the Spiritual Heart. Use it to send blessings and compassion to the whole world. Thus, you will no longer participate in the subtle problem (fears, angst, worries), but in the subtle solution (the Bodhisattvas’ field of compassion).
- According to your soul’s inspiration, pray daily to the Virgin Mary, Jesus, or Tara, or invoke Shambala to bring peace in the souls and minds of people, and to heal those touched by the virus.
A Love embrace of Trust and Stillness for all of you! We are together, sahaja, in samsara and nirvana, both in difficulties and in inner splendor, in Pure Awareness.
–Sahajananda, Founder of Hridaya Yoga
Please watch this space where we will continue to add videos from our online events, including satsangs and Hatha Yoga classes. We invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out our existing playlists for inspiring content, which include contemplations on the 14 Hridaya Attitudes and related asanas.
|Week 2 Notes: Being Values, Cultivating Fearlessness, and Increasing Awareness|
Week 3 Notes: Self-Awareness and the Undivided Space of the Soul
Week 4 Notes: How Self-Observation Leads to Self-Awareness
Week 5 Notes:
1-Hour Guided Hridaya Meditation with Sahajananda
As we are not live streaming meditations on Sundays, we invite you to use this audio recording of a guided meditation led by our founder, Sahajananda. Let his gentle voice and loving presence guide you into Stillness whenever you have an hour to meditate. You can listen to the recording online, or download it by right-clicking on the link and choosing “Save Link As” or “Download Linked File.”
Awakening Compassion – A Tapas Dedicated to the Goddess Tara
Every day for 49 days until the 8th May, we came together here at Hridaya Yoga France to practice the following tapas dedicated to the Goddess Tara. The sequence we practiced you can find below and we invite you to practice this for yourself in the comfort of your own home.
Full details for the sequence below can be downloaded here.
1. PEACE PRAYER ATTRIBUTED TO ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
2. SHANTIDEVA’S PRAYER
3. INVOCATION OF GREEN TARA
4. GREEN TARA MANTRA
5. OM MANI PADME HUM
6. PRAYER OF THE HEART or METTA MEDITATION
7. THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES