The Eight Worldly Winds
Updated: Jan 12, 2020
By Huda Al-Qatami
The Tao Te Ching describes life as “10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows”. We know that change is a part of life, intellectually at least. But do we live from that place of knowing, or do we feel swept away by these changes.
Buddhist teachings describe these changes as the Eight Worldly Winds, which include gain & loss, fame & disrepute, praise & blame, pleasure & pain. These are just things that happen to every one of us from time to time. Sometimes these “winds” are just a breeze and we barely notice them, and other times they are a storm that sweep us off our feet.
I have been experiencing some of these unexpected and “not so fun” changes the past few weeks, events that are out of my control that have brought me a good deal of stress. When this happens it is easy to get lost in my head sometimes and all the “unhelpful” stories/thoughts that swirl in the mind.
But then I remember my practice, a refuge that I always return to; my yoga and mindfulness practice. It is how I find the earth beneath my feet, time and again, so that I may weather the storm and remain grounded. When things are just too much, I keep it very simple and basic. My yoga practice might only last a few minutes and may include a gentle supine practice of just a few poses. My mindfulness and meditation practice remind me to use my physical body and breath as an anchor, to keep my awareness right here in the present. This helps me to pause and calm my body down, so that my mind can become clear again and I am able to move forward right in the middle of the storm.
So to those of you who are also in the middle of a storm, may you remember that this too shall pass, and may you find a refuge to help you weather the eight worldly winds. If you do not have that refuge, then I would love to invite you to explore how the beautiful practices of yoga, mindfulness and meditation might offer some relief.