Friday, June 24, 2011
My Street Yoga Experience
Last weekend I was fortunate to attend a 3 day training through Street Yoga. It was so wonderful to be with people who want to share their own healing with the walking wounded. I met yoga studio owners who thought nothing of donating their space to help the traumatized. I met social workers who understood a side of life that most of us ignore: the foster child system, the sexually abused, teenage girls in juvenile homes, homeless teenagers, angry runaways--there are over 7 million homeless children in our country. What happens when people ignore such critical statistics?
I'm hoping to work with a coalition of like-minded teachers who will bring yoga to all who need it, regardless of cost or location. Some of the trainees were already working in centers with mixed groups of impoverished children with learning disabilities. One said that she was a trauma survivor, determined to make sure that others did not have to suffer as she did. Another worked with parents and children in the Philadelphia public schools, hoping to use yoga to glue the family fabric. One worked in the legal system, and knew the precise fate of teenagers imprisoned for petty crime--such incarceration gave them a PhD. in criminal behavior. Our yoga cohort knows the world is a mess and plan to do their part to make it better.
I needed this training to heal myself from a lot of anger and frustration. Lately, all I've seen is naked ambition, backbiting, and self-promotion at the expense of truth. It's all about me, me, me--my career, my work, my name, my connections, my power, my prestige. I've seen good people maligned and others in fear for their jobs. I've seen injustice and hardened hearts where compassion and forgiveness could have solved so much of this ugliness. I began to think that the world was filled with selfish people who thought nothing of destroying others to get their way.
The Street Yoga training reminded me that love is stronger than fear. When we see the suffering of others, we can do one of three things: ignore it, blame the victims or try to do something to help. The devastation in Joplin, Missouri showed the world that people will rise up to help their neighbors. It's great to see people accept the mantle of responsibility for their neighbor in a crisis. But what about our daily lives? Who are we hurting with our words? Who are we blaming for things out of our control? What are we doing each day to solve the absence of love in the world? Just like evil begins with a thought, goodness can grow with actions that represent a clear mind that rejects fear and selfishness. I challenge myself to do what is right, not what is easy. It may sound like a cliche, but the world will never tire from a caring heart.