Stealing Your Peace

Members | July 20, 2021 | by Carol Silver Elliott

LeadingAge Board Chair, Carol Silver Elliott, offers this message to members about finding our personal peace.

Some of you know, as I’ve shared it before, that I became a registered yoga teacher in recent months. I’d talked about it in the past but never really meant it. Seriously, how would I ever have found the time to do a 200 hour program in residence somewhere? But COVID begat our virtual world and in December I learned that a friend, and former teacher of mine, had partnered with two other teachers to open a school that would be completely on Zoom. I debated and debated until my husband finally said “It’s COVID. What else are you doing besides work?” So I jumped in and raced home from work every Tuesday and Thursday to be in class from 6-9 pm and spent every Sunday the same way, from noon until 6. I did that from the end of January to the end of May. It was a lot of hours, a lot of homework and practice, a lot of preparation for the tests along the way and at the end but I am very glad that I did it, very glad I squeezed that time into my crazy schedule.

I learned a lot that I did not know about yoga, understanding for perhaps the first time, that yoga is not just about movement. Rather the word yoga means unity, unity of mind, body and spirit. Movement, what we would call asana in yoga, is not the end in itself. It is a means to help us be mindful, a means to help us free our thoughts.

A wonderful and somewhat unexpected benefit of this intensive class schedule was getting to know the other members of my class, a group of diverse individuals who each brought something unique to our experience. Despite not actually meeting in person until graduation, we all connected, supported one another and developed real bonds. We also learned from one another in many ways, broadening the experience significantly.

One particular learning really resonates with me. One of my classmates would end every practice she taught with not just the traditional thank you message but she would say, without exception, “Don’t let anybody steal your peace.” The words are certainly lovely but the message is powerful on so many levels. We are at a point in time when the chaos of COVID is, for the most part, subsiding. We are back to a more “normal” work environment, facing issues that have always been with us but have, for the last 18 months, not been as front of mind. Dynamics that had taken a back seat to the urgency with which we had to act, have returned with all the tension that they inevitably bring.

And I have found myself wrestling with how much I let these difficult moments affect me. During the worst days of COVID, I pushed myself and our team to be positive every day, to keep their attitudes upbeat and remember that attitudes are contagious. Today I realize that the same determination has to apply in the post-COVID world. I am not suggesting that every minute needs to be filled with sunshine. What I am suggesting is that we remember that we always have a choice. Allowing someone to “steal our peace” is just that—something we allow and something we do not have to choose to allow.

Finding our personal peace is not an easy thing. Some days, and some circumstances, make it nearly impossible. Many of us have personalities and styles that make peace feel like a foreign concept. Yet, I would contend that especially now, after all that we have endured, it is something we must strive to find. And even more importantly, strive to hold onto, reminding ourselves not to let anyone steal our peace.