THE BLOG

Fiscal Crisis Yoga

01/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Well, I think it is safe to say that by now, we've all been downsized.

Even if you still have your job, even if you invest your funds under your mattress rather than in the stock market, you're feeling the effects of our country's current fiscal crisis. Maybe you have concerns about your job security. Maybe you wonder if your paper losses will translate into major struggles when it's time to buy a car, a house or send your kids to school. Maybe you want to go back to school, like I do, and you wonder if you will even be able to obtain a student loan in the current credit crunch. Maybe you feel like you've had to cut back on things like your gym membership, your nights out with friends, your obsession with designer shoes.

You're suffering. And you don't see an end in sight.

Yoga can help.

Yoga philosophy tells us that the suffering yet to come can and should be avoided. But how does one avoid future suffering when it is outside events, events outside our control, that set the stage for said suffering?

Well, the first thing to understand is that we can never control outside events. Hell, we can't even control our own bodies -- we age, we fall ill, we have accidents, we even have thoughts that we can't seem to control. All of that is unavoidable.

The second thing to understand is that when we stop trying to do the impossible, in this case, to control that which we cannot control, we begin to suffer less.

And this is a form of yoga that you can try at home -- no fee required. Let's try it now:

Say your boss fires half your staff, and you're lucky enough to have kept your job, but unlucky enough to have to do double the amount of work you used to do for the same amount of pay, no raise in sight. You can go home and bitch and moan and complain to your wife, your significant other, your mom, your kids, your dog, your neighbors, the guy who sells coffee on the corner. You can complain until you're blue in the face, and no one can stand to listen to you anymore. But you'll still be suffering. Right? Instead of struggling against it, plotting how you would do things different if you were the boss, hurling mental epithets at the powers who created this fiscal crisis in the first place, how about just getting the work done?

That's right. Just shut up and get the work done. Because really, when all is said and done, do you have a choice? You can certainly start working on your resume after you're done with the work. Or you can accept that things are just bad out there right now and that you're going to have to find a way to ride it for now. Bitching and moaning will not enhance your experience of this ride. It will merely exacerbate your suffering. You can avoid that suffering. You can just accept your feelings (Anger? Annoyance? Fear of losing your job even after doing all this crummy work?) and then do your work and let it go.

Here's another one: Let's say that you go on a date with a guy, and you have a great time, he says he'll call, blah blah blah. But the next day, nothing. And the next day. And so on. You can ruminate and analyze what might have happened. Did he lose his job? Was his cell phone repossessed? Perhaps you should call him to see if everything is okay? Perhaps you can craft a witty and casual email designed to elicit a response. Perhaps you can orchestrate some way of running into him on his block without him thinking you're some crazed stalker. Or... perhaps you can avoid all the suffering yet to come. You could do nothing. You can feel your disappointment and then let it go.

I like to think of it as surfing through life. Imagine swimming at the edge of the ocean. As the waves roll in, you can either fight to swim against them, or you can let them carry you. Let them carry you, and you're getting an exciting, albeit scary, ride. Fight against those waves, and you'll end up picking sand out of your bathing suit the entire ride home.

Understanding and accepting that bad things happen, that things won't always go our way, that people and events will disappoint us -- it's not pessimism. Rather, it's reality. And working with reality as it is is a great way to avoid suffering. When you think about it, you may begin to recognize that it may be the only way.