A New Perspective on the Common Cold

Written by Amanda Whittal.

It's here again: the cold season. I must admit, that even with daily yoga, meditation, and a holistic lifestyle, I am not immune. The familiar grip caught me this year, resulting in a few days of feeling physically weak and mentally foggy.

common cold

One night in particular stands out, in which I had many plans to accomplish my to-do list, and instead found myself flat on my back in bed, unable to do or think of anything, but just...be...quiet.

Initially I resisted this state, struggling to force myself to be productive somehow. My body retaliated, becoming weaker still, until I finally allowed my yogic perspective and lifestyle to infiltrate the situation, surrendering to my reality, and acknowledging what was truly needed...rest. Almost immediately, this act of surrender was pleasantly accompanied by a sense of peace and ease, replacing my original tension and anxiety. In the silence I was faced with the question of what was so important that I was desperately trying to accomplish?

It's a frequent tendency in our society, we struggle, strive, plan, work: constantly trying to get to some future destination that we've mentally formulated. A point at which we expect that everything will magically come together, work itself out, be 'perfect'.

But where is this mental target that we covet and hold on such a precious pedestal? Even if we can answer this question, almost certainly as soon as we get there, some other goal will arise, placing us back in the mode of dissatisfaction and striving.

This is not to say that goals are not valuable. It is through our ambitions and aspirations that we grow, evolve, and improve upon life. The drawback stems from becoming overly fixated on these aims, on the notion that the future offers something drastically superior to the present. When we succumb to such a pattern, we lose touch with the world currently in front of us, which offers many gifts of its own.

At the risk of sounding like the bearer of bad news (or perhaps, rather, a gentle reminder of an already known truth...don't shoot the messenger), this grand future objective will likely have many or all of the treasures we envision. It will also, however, have its own challenges, and will by no stretch of the imagination be 'perfect'. The structure will look much like today's, just with different contents, that is all.

Coming back to the pesky problem of the cold: while we cannot negate the fact that external factors play a role (colder weather, season changes, less daylight, etc.), we can recognize that other aspects exist as well.

Illness is often a sign from our body that we are out of balance, that something is 'off'. Whether or not it turns into a full-blown attack or just some irritating symptoms depends substantially on the degree to which you are in tune with your body at any given moment. When a cold begins to come on, do you notice and heed your body's warnings? Or do you engage in a battle of mind over matter, pushing on with your tasks and ignoring it (or perhaps not even hearing it) until you finally reach the point at which your physical limitations reclaim their role in the driver's seat, and you simply cannot push on any further?

Such was my situation. As I lay in bed and reflected quietly about where I was and how I got there, I couldn't help but laugh at myself for believing I could get away with ignoring my body's needs. More striking, however, was the incredible peace and tranquility that emerged when I eventually stopped resisting and accepted what was needed in the first place. Harmony between my body and mind was restored, there was no longer a struggle, and my attention came back fully to the present moment.

This simple yet profound power that comes from acknowledging the here and now as it is, rather than as we think it should be, has the ability to cause great shifts in our lives, allowing us to more fully embody the art of living.

The lesson derived from this scenario was truly valuable and worth sharing. Embrace the world and your life AS IT IS. See the perfection in the imperfection and allow it to be. All this from that irritating little cold...huh, who'd have thought they carry so much wisdom ;)

To your health,


Become more in tune with your body by engaging in self-awareness activities.

For instance, try the reclining mountain pose in yoga:

  1. Lay flat on the floor, legs outstretched, arms by your sides.
  2. Close your eyes and bring all your attention onto your breathing. Breath softly.
  3. Start to notice your legs and any tension that's causing you to resist the pull of gravity. Release the tension with each exhale. Allow yourself to let go.
  4. Repeat this process, moving up your legs and torso, down your arms, up your shoulders, neck and head, your face.
  5. See what you notice and how much you are able to physically relax while being mentally aware.
  6. Hear the subtle workings and messages of the wisdom in your body. Accept them.

Like this technique?

Explore the book 'Self-Awakening Yoga' By Don Stapleton.

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