I don’t know about you, but everyone I know—myself included!—is currently in a time of tremendous change and transition. Everything seems to be up for review and revision right now: self, home, relationships, work. For some people only one or two areas need attention; for other people *all* of these areas are in process. It is an intense time, and I for one look forward to being on the other side of it. How to get through this time with as much grace as possible? with as little disruption to my psyche as possible? with as little stress as possible?

Stability. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? “Stability” implies ideas such as grounded, consistent, safe, and secure. A quick look at a thesaurus reveals these words, too:

  • balance
  • strength
  • support
  • dependability
  • constancy
  • durability
  • permanence

We all need a certain amount of stability in our lives. Stability is comforting and provides a sense that “everything is all right.” When stability is absent or threatened, we become stressed and feel uncertain in an area of our life that is directly related to the instability. For instance, for some people, home is unstable; for others the area of work/finances/income is unstable. Instability can happen in relationships, the environment around us, with our means of transportation, and in health/wellness. Think of the last time you had a cold or flu. Losing the normal functioning of our bodies is very stressful, even when it happens for a short period of time!

When one area of life is unstable, that instability can bleed over into other areas. When income is insufficient to the cost of living, it is difficult to create a secure living situation and to ensure adequate nutritional intake. Coming back to the memory of a cold or flu, instability in health has an impact on our ability to go to work and function optimally, possibly leading to financial repercussions.

So this idea of stability is more than a nice, cozy idea; it is, in fact, pretty central to life running smoothly—and to our own ability to maintain mental–emotional equanimity. Maybe “stability” is a construct that we use to keep ourselves from losing our shit on a regular basis. Because rather than be in a constant state of stress over {what is} or {what isn’t} or {what was but no longer is} or {what could be} or {what we wish things were} or {…} it’s easier to buy into this notion that things are stable, predictable, and consistent. We get the feeling that we know what’s what, what’s up, how things are. That lends comfort.

But life has a way of throwing curve balls at us and challenging the actuality of our stability—or our perception of it. Life is change, constant change. Every inhale and exhale is a process of change. Oxygen and carbon dioxide trade places across a membrane. Our cells are constantly replicating, working, and dying off.

I am finding stability wherever I happen to be. Literally. The title of Ram Dass’ book is appropriate here: Be Here Now. I am being here now, wherever I am. I am staying present to where I am and what the current circumstances are. I’m skipping pining for the past or romanticizing the future. I am feeling whatever part of my body is in contact with the floor. I am attentive to the sights, smells, and sounds that surround me. I am fully enjoying the flavors of the foods that I am eating. And I am oh-so grateful for the time that I have spent cultivating self-care practices because now is when I need their familiarity the most.

My daily pranayama (breathing) exercises and movement work still and quiet my mind. They loosen my stiff tissues. They bring life force energies into me that act as a form of non-carbon-based fuel.

My mantra (chanting) work provides an effective distraction to my mind, which these days is, to paraphrase Anne Lamott, “like a bad neighborhood at two in the morning; it’s better to avoid going there.” As I mentioned recently in a yoga class, I grew up in a crack neighborhood in New York City; I know what a bad neighborhood at two in the morning looks like.

I have had periods of time in my life where:

  • I slept in five different beds in two weeks’ time
  • I didn’t know how I was going to pay the massive amount of bills
  • I didn’t know if I would ever feel awake and alert and strong
  • I came to deeply know that I was in a relationship that was not good for me.

Somehow we get through these times. Somehow equilibrium returns and things stabilize. And we thrive.

I don’t always understand what shifted or how it shifted, but at this point in my life I do know that my practices make it all easier and more bearable. I suffer less. I sleep better. When life is (seemingly) only dishing out challenge after challenge and one stress-inducer after another, I am better able to find stability right where I am rather than looking for it in the external world.