“Mrs. Romano, I’m going to have to do a lumbar puncture on you.”

The ER doctor at St. John’s hospital was kindly warning me – something was coming that wouldn’t be pleasant.

Not having had a lumbar puncture before, I thought to myself, “How bad can it be? She’s just going to stick me in the side to get some fluid.”

What I didn’t realize is that a lumbar puncture is when a needle is put into your spinal column to extract fluid. Being someone with a strong aversion to needles, it’s a good thing I didn’t know! I’ll spare you any more details of the procedure but for the week afterward, I couldn’t lift my head above horizontal without feeling like it would explode!

The past few months have been, for most (if not all) of us, a series of extreme ups and downs. For me, my physical health has forced me to cultivate new levels of patience.

One day, I’ll wake up feeling completely normal, and the next, extreme pain or discomfort or inability to move or speak. It’s been a rollercoaster, that’s for sure.

Maybe you can relate? One moment, you have job security, the next, you and your whole team is laid off. Your child is told she and her schoolmates will celebrate graduation in person – no doubt about that, and then, the reality sets in that nothing will be happening in person for who knows how long. We all have (or will have) our stories during these turbulent times.

Let’s face it, at this moment, there is no certainty on the physical plane. Is there ever? Well, I don’t think any of us has had to deal with the level of uncertainty on a global scale that we are in now. There is a feeling of being in perpetual limbo. What will tomorrow bring?

When I was 27 and moving from Georgia to California, my entire life was changing in a very short period of time. My marriage was ending; I was leaving my family and the only life I knew. One night, I had a vision of being in a raging river. I was being washed violently downstream with the current. There was nothing to hold onto; nothing was solid or stable… until, suddenly, I grabbed hold of a rock in the middle of the river. The current was still rushing by on either side of me. But I knew the rock was rooted far beneath the rushing waters. It was steadfast, unmoving and I knew at that moment it represented my guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. If I held fast to his love, to his discipline and teachings, I would be fine… beyond fine, I would be blissful!

Yoganandaji said, “There are no obstacles; there are only opportunities!” It has been a great blessing for me, during this time of health challenges, to see how even when life tosses me around, that rock of inner calmness is still there. We have the choice to give in to thoughts like, “What if I never feel better?”, or “What if I can’t pay my rent?”, or “What will become of our world?” Or we can choose to live in the present moment. To take each challenge (or opportunity!) as it comes. To give our lives ever more completely into Divine Mother’s arms and know that She will provide for us.

I’ve been practicing one of Swami Kriyananda’s affirmations, which has been extremely helpful for me. I hope you will memorize it and practice it daily, especially if you are feeling thrown around by life’s ups and downs.

“I am neither the ripples at the surface of the sea, nor yet the crashing waves: I am the vast ocean deeps, unaffected by mighty surface storms, untouched by any superficial change.”
–Swami Kriyananda, Affirmations for Self-Healing