The other day I saw a driver giving his middle finger a serious workout, thrusting his arm straight up outside his car window, the digit held like an ornery balloon. He even waved it at people passing by, blaring his horn for extra entertainment, scooping them up in his pop-up party. There appeared to be no hands on the wheel.

It's a crazy time. We try to relax. We fail. We see things and hear things that make us nuts -- people not wearing masks, people not voting like we think they should, people not planning to vote at all. We try harder to relax. We fail.

I’d like to offer a few tips for staying sane right now, tips from the body’s point of view. It's not rocket science, but it is science, that much maligned discipline. It’s the science of how the body and mind work together.

I suggest this after being swept up in that guy’s hot air display, and as a long-time yoga teacher. They’re tips that bring us back to balance when we fear we’ll topple.

The great meditation teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche said, “The mind needs the body in order to stabilize in calm presence.” Especially, I would add, when it feels like the whole world is tilting toward that angry digit.

Step One: Come on, take off your shoes and socks, stand flat on the ground, spread your feet, make them broad, balance evenly on the four corners, and notice if your crazies don’t settle down a bit.

Are you leaning forward onto your toes? In the mind-body world, leaning habitually forward is known as moving into the future where anxiety lives. I bet that driver was leaning all the way to California. A simple shift back onto the center of your feet brings you into the present moment where the mind relaxes. The feet are the roots of your tree, the tree of your body. You need to be square on your roots.

If you tend to lean on your heels instead of your toes, it’s said you lean into the past where fear and depression live. If that’s you, again shift forward to center. You’re not going to let that driver knock you down, are you? Am I?

Step Two: Straighten your spine. If the lumbar spine digs in at the back of the waist, make your pelvis vertical so you don’t cut yourself in half. We need whole bodies to get through this month. Or, if your shoulders hunch forward and your upper back rounds, roll your shoulders back and again straighten your spine. Both these actions help you stay in the center of things, where many believe the country needs to be anyway if we’re going to keep our hands from flying up in the middle of a road.

Step Three: Notice if you sit or stand with your head jutting forward. Take it back so you move away from the stressed-out front brain into the calm back brain. Adjust your posture so the back of the head is in line with the tailbone. The back brain is considered holistic, inviting a wider perspective. Imagine you’re watching this period of time through the lens of history, preferably a history that turns out your way. Get a little distance.

With all this attention to body parts, certainly you can outwit the effect one single finger could have on your otherwise perfect day.

If not, don’t do what that driver did. But if you see him, feel free to center your balance, straighten that spine, move into the back brain, and do it -- for all of us -- under your seat.

Donna Debs is a longtime freelance writer, a former KYW radio news reporter, and a certified Iyengar yoga teacher. She lives in Tredyffrin. She’d love to hear from you at ddebs@comcast.net.

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