We do well to remember and to remember what’s true. That alone is a difficult thing to manage when a certain portion of our education and our history stears for the convenience of some other means. We have various ways to experience the reality of our days and it can be confusing and even overwhelming with personal life experience, news and social media, assumptions, attachments and other internal and external pressures. I was talking with a friend the other day, saying how much I love watching new buildings go up and general building construction. Not that I’m always a fan of city planning and developments, but I do like imagining all the parts from architectural design to project managing for some weird reason. I think that’s why I enjoyed my event design path for those years and why I look at it like making art on a large scale. My friend shared that his father worked on construction during his childhood and he would often go on construction sites. When he was 12, he fell about 10 feet off the side of a building under construction and another time he got stuck in drying cement! Construction sites are a nightmare for him and not at all fun to think about. I thought, wow, that’s how this all works – Our emotions, our nervous systems, our brains get wired with certain experiences and then we live accordingly. I asked how these were handled and he shared he was yelled at because these were set-backs for his father and no care or real concern was shown. I was glad we talked about it together and could even laugh a bit about it. That sort of revisiting with a good friend in this way can be healing, even years and years later.
I will admit that in past years, some of the holidays and observances were good to know about and I might take a glance to know a bit more, roughly a passing thought. But these days, I realize how ignorant I’ve been of so much happening in the world and how fixed I’ve been on making sure I was comfortable more than I was compassionate. Self-interest over selfless service. And only when I’ve reflected on these differences have I stopped and felt the difference of a life led by one over the other. And to realize how much our society and culture has perpetuated a mission of indulged independence over peaceful interdependence. When we care about the well-being of others, our own issues become less glaring and even quiet down and resolve to the simple need. And this is not easy and takes practice…at least it has for me. I still struggle with this as I build a business and want to feel grounded and not worried for my financial security and well-being. I feel sad where I’ve let friends down and haven’t been able to be there for them in the ways that I’d like to. I do recognize there are limits and certain times when life gets too heavy. And then the practice of forgiving myself first then asking for forgiveness emerges as the path of growth and healing. The harsh measure of “you should know better” or “what’s wrong with you” comes from a parental vibe that may be the not so helpful voices repeating in our heads.
What happens when we hear something and it triggers a feeling of hope? Our nervous system is soothed and we might feel that it can become a source of happiness and safety. We let our guards down a little and soften. But what happens when something is then shared that threatens that? Do we return to self-preservation or become emotionally fatigued? Do we think of others and step into service or freeze in overwhelm? How does this show up in a personal way and how have we seen this at the scale of a nation? Fear and uncertainty may show up which serves as a convenience for someone who may wish to manipulate an outcome, and it may even be a harm so skillfully perpetuated for a long time that it’s hard to know the source. Feeling unworthy, having messages that say, “I’m supposed to” or even “If I don’t act this way, then who am I” can be deeply ingrained and inherited. And the body/mind that wants to preserve our life will do anything to make sure we survive. If we have nothing else but external things to rely on, this story may never change. If we build a relationship with the part of ourselves that can disengage from the flood of external messages and learn to experience the subtle space of inner quiet where all the rights and wrongs, shoulds and shouldn’ts drift in the background, we have a chance to know our resilient self better. It’s all in there, but like a muscle we might need to learn how to exercise it. It’s in this space that our best thinking and healing are stimulated. It’s in communities that support this way of welcoming personal awareness, acceptance and healthy actions that we can be warriors of peace versus angry messengers of revenge.
“Every thought you have causes neurochemical changes, some temporary and some lasting. For instance, when people consciously practice gratitude, they get a surge of rewarding neurotransmitters, like dopamine, and experience a general alerting and brightening of the mind, probably correlated with more of the neurochemical norepinephrine.” —huffpost.com
My own journey around addiction and recovery has been one of the best references to this. In a way, I see how my addiction that developed at a young age saved me by allowing me to develop a fantasy world, but then even when I no longer needed it, my brain kept saying it had purpose. Finding a way to heal that pathway of thinking breaks the relationship with the original harm and even though it threatens a part of the body/mind, it can be the way of transformation. Having a steady yoga practice has also been the key to healing. My goal isn’t what I once imagined as the perfection of this self in this lifetime. I aim to be as conscious as I can of where I act less than kind and where I forget the beautiful journey of life’s fluctuations that are here to awaken and unify.
What fuels each of us to take the actions we do? How much is driven by a desperate survival mode and how much is driven by the joy and interest in helping others? Can these two things get tangled up? Meaning, is it possible that we push ourselves and those around us to the point that we’re creating harm yet what we’re doing is intended to be of service to others? Building a business, working in the events industry, preparing for a home season dance performance – all life situations where my answer has been yes. Pushing myself and others to the point of becoming ill or being irritable and shut-down. I’ve had to repeatedly ask myself these questions recently and to recognize the teachable moments from these so I don’t continue to repeat the pattern. My reflections may be different than someone else’s and I must remember that these are what they are and have a purpose for my development. But is there a common truth that helps us reflect on what it means to be in this world with a life of meaning and significance? Is Peace that common truth?
Recent events are testing all of our feelings of safety and survival. From COVID-19 to the upcoming Inauguration, what will come from these days? So much preparation for the worst demonstrations as state capitols fortify the buildings and areas with the seen and unseen protections. And at the same time, so much preparation for the best is happening in terms of the Biden/Harris administration reviving the country with new leadership, new plans and new direction. What have we learned from our history? Why is it that voices who bravely emerge to speak the truth and create positive change are often seen as enemies by others? Where in the story of those who have so much hate, have they fixed their minds on a different version of the story? And what or who fuels that vulnerability? We know the answer from a now infamous day of January 6th, 2021.
We are seeing more questions of how much hope we can have for 2021 when both the coronavirus and domestic terrorists are mutating and scheming. On one level, both are acting as expected when threatened with extinction. The virus wants to survive at all costs as do those who fear their rights are being threatened in this changing world. We know the vaccines are getting a slower roll-out than they should have and yet my friend and private yoga client, Scott Keech with Kaiser Hospital here in SF has been giving thousands of vaccines since the start of this year. He is directing his team to build an efficient and safe system ready for a way to multiply their efforts and even in discussion with the city to create a unified flow of major hospitals working together to vaccinate. Just this last weekend, he said his team vaccinated 2000 people and I can only imagine the lift in spirits even for his team as they take effort to slow the rise of infections.
mRNA vaccines work by providing the genetic code for our cells to produce viral proteins. Once the proteins, which don’t cause disease, are produced, the body launches an immune response against the virus, enabling the person to develop immunity. —the-scientist.com
What code can we inject into our nation that will be a vaccine against the disease of white supremacy and racism? How did Reverend Martin Luther King become a voice that changed history and transformed hate at that time? Not by showing hate and violence. We know it didn’t clear out all the hate, but it sure created a transformation and a way for the body of our country to heal and grow stronger. There has been progress. Imagine a world that is slowly trying to wake up from a deep sleep of illusion. Like waking up from Savasana, the corpse pose in yoga class and realizing all that was before was just a dream within a dream. Today is a new moment and we can go from here. This is the code of presence, the code of forgiveness and healing. This is the code of compassion and understanding. At some point or another, we will all likely fail to live up to the dream of Peace that resides in each and every person. But we can also learn from our past, remember that and then go even further back and remember that we are all connected before we were divided. I believe that is somewhere, deep in the memory of every being – we are one, we are each other.
May there be Peace. May we remember what we have learned from the past and keep our minds and bodies safe from harm. And when there is harm, may we remember that we can find a way through and come together in Peace and Joy, Love and Light.
Let’s stay connected,
Owner and Director of Mukunda Yoga Center