Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl
This is one of my favourite quotes from Man’s Search for Meaning, written by Viktor E. Frankl in 1946. It speaks about his experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz and other concentration camps as well as his observations on how persons transcended suffering in these camps.
These experiences and observations greatly informed his psychotherapeutic concept of logotherapy where he posits we are most deeply driven by finding a strong purpose in life (hence the title). The book is a very interesting read.
This Frankl quote is always a reminder that we have space to choose our responses, even in the direst of situations; it grounds me in my yoga practice, a practice that helped me to truly understand and employ this approach even before I saw this quote or read this book.
As someone who was always quick to react, yoga taught me to pause before giving an unthinking reaction to a person or situation. We often attribute impetuous reactions to unbridled anger and not so much to unbridled worry. However, I attribute to both – quick to anger or quick to depress. Before I let my emotions spin away, there is space, space to pause, take a breath, and choose a response. It’s a practice; I assure you it doesn’t happen each time, but it happens less often than before.
My practice is a friend during a time faced with Covid-19, volcanic ash, and various other general issues. My physical practice invites movement of the body in a time of restricted movement and my mindfulness meditation practice helps me maintain mental space to better choose healthier reactions when external stressors swirl. Incorporating restorative postures also really helps me to relax both physically and mentally.
Beyond the ensuing benefits of yoga, I embrace and celebrate what’s still going right; having basic utilities in place is a big joy for me. Being in good health and having close friends and family enjoy the same, is also something I treasure. Being able to put food on my table, also quite important. I embrace and celebrate these simple joys and then I deal with the problems bit by bit. I try not to allow my mind to be consumed with everything that is going wrong – I know things are going wrong; I know issues have to be addressed; however I also know I can’t fix them all at once, so my mind certainly can’t engage them all at once. Bit by bit, I forge plans to systematically attack based on urgency and time sensitivity.
I also make space to laugh. Simple, but I find light moments really help to lighten the mind. So, I may find my way to someone or something (even a YouTube video) that is just fun for me. These interactions elevate my mood and I find I can approach problems afresh like the laughter has cleared some fog in my mind and can help me think better.
I began with a Viktor E. Frankl quote and I end with one – “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
About Marita Greenidge
Marita Greenidge is a certified yoga instructor and a former ACSM certified personal trainer. She is Sales Manager of the Health & Wellness Division of Bryden Stokes Ltd., responsible for Barbados and the OECS markets. She is also Vice President of the Barbados Chapter of Variety-The Children’s Charity.
She can be contacted at [email protected] | Find her on Instagram @ekam.wellness or @thegardeningyogi or on Facebook at ekamyogabb