(Repost from Dec. 2. 2015 after San Bernardino Shooting)
So another shooting. 1. I cannot bear that people are potentially suffering from disabilities and 2. and then this. I know that the truth is that love is bigger, but sometimes it feels like life is just so much pain. We need to take these incidents not as something that makes us shut down and give up, but as encouragement continue to doing the work. Continue to gather together and practice connection to all aspects of ourselves. To strengthen love within ourselves and then start to spread it out. In general, I really feel that it is the connection to the body that needs to be learned, connection to our own emotions and our own heart as a gateway to spirit. I think we can only hurt others when we are numbed out, totally overwhelmed, and having been so disregarded ourselves.
I definitely cannot say that I "don't understand" violence. I think my knowledge of what it feels like to be hurt and disregarded is what puts me in a position to do the healing. But I think it takes an effort to not shut down more from this (exactly the problem), to not become more numb, more defeated, to not become more afraid or angry from it. To expand love and continue to do the emotional healing. It takes conscious effort to say that our work matters and is not just a drop into the hopelessness.
So focus on that. The problem is complex but the solution is simple: human regard. Starting with yourself. Regard even for those who disregard you. Even for those whose defense against disregard is more disregard. Regard for the body, the emotions, the spirit. If we see the enactment of pain as the enactment of separation, we can come closer, we can potentially be the remedy. (continued below)
It is clear that it is a time where great kindness is required. Both internally and externally. When things happen externally - the surfacing of fear, hate, and violence, things come up internally to heal as well. This is the work of yoga. The most typical response to pain - internal or external - is judgement. But really compassion is a more helpful response - to see BOTH the cause and the resolution of the problem within ourselves so that we can even begin to form the possibility of resolution in the world. Social media makes the tendency towards judgement even worse - it is so easy go around debating words when probably the feeling behind them is much the same.
This is why I teach yoga: because it is NOT positive thinking, it holds the wholeness and the tension of opposites that point towards the truth. It is not just dancing in the light. The path does not ask us to look away or only to envision what is wanted. It says that the healing is in the pain. The pain is there anyways. So, drink the poison. And that is where deep kindness comes from. We do talk about the light in yoga, but it is not light as opposed to the darkness. That is where it gets interesting - it leading towards the light, the acknowledgement of darkness must occur so that we can clean it up, clear it out, move it through. So that we can actually feel a light that holds it all, rather than a light that is dissociated and allows things to stay in tact as they have been.
We get to hold the light of hope in the darkness. This is very important AND there is the other element as well. I have made the joke a few times that, if we consider the light, think of shining it into a room that has been locked up for four generations. You open that door and shine the light - do you expect it to be all rainbows and heavenly? On some level it is. On some level, it all is. But on this level - the one we are to work in - its cob webs and dust. You shine the light and the cockroaches crawl out. The individual, the world, cultures, have been carrying around these dark rooms inside themselves for a long time. Not feeling the pain does not mean it is not there. And so this is the way of yoga bringing things into the light. Being willing to look and see what comes up.
And so, in yoga, there is the fierce work on self that we do in these moments when the external brings up the internal. What do you feel when tragedy occurs? Anger, Hopelessness, Despair, Minimizing, Normalizing, Comparison.....? This is your work (to say "this is your work" does not mean they are not also real in the world, it is all real). These are yours to be felt and dealt with - they are all true and reasonable. The fierce work is in using these to clear out the past to be able to see the present more clearly. And then, equally important, and maybe even more so, is the work of self kindness. To dispel the patterns of judgement and cruelty inside yourself, to yourself. To begin the loving-kindness there and then work your way out.
Some believe that - in addition to action - there is power of your own inner state and prayer to contribute to the soothing of the world. Some believe that – when groups gather together – this power becomes even more. Even if you don't know if you believe these things, you can know for sure that when ever you sit and breathe - with your pain or with your bliss - rather than reacting, there is at least one more person in the world creating peace. So I thank you. I thank you deeply for doing the honest work. For unlocking the rooms of your generations and not needing it to be pretty. I thank you for your courage, your kindness, your steps into the unknown.