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.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Evil is Not Our True Nature

One of my dearest friends is undergoing some terrible problems. We keep in touch through email and texting as she lives in Chicago, and I don't know when I'll make it out there. Recently I wrote her an email about her situation. Later, I realized I was writing to myself. I'd like to share some of it--(edited for coherence and privacy):

When you are confronted with true evil, everything inside tells you to run. Maybe we weren't created to face evil, but we got off our intended path and here we are. Evil causes us to be afraid and angry. Nothing is worse--nothing. I want to get to that emotional space so that I am filled with mercy and grace, not rage and defensiveness. Like you, I've seen evil.

Have you had any bodywork done recently or done anything that has stretched  tight muscles, almost in spasm?  Any small accidents?  Let's face it: you've been through a lot! Your daughter saying hateful things, all of this legal crap, getting your life unraveled--the stress is getting to you. I mention the bodywork as we store a lot of  unhealed emotions in our body, and when the muscles release, a lot of memories long forgotten rear their ugly head. Even worse, we get in touch with those feelings that made us repress those images in the first place.

It's hard: I often feel like I have no second skin, that my feelings are just out there for everyone to see. You may also be sensitive to unseen energy. Even though I don't follow the evangelical trip, I do believe there is spiritual warfare, but it is far more complex that Satan vs. God. We are all sensitive to vibrations. You are on a higher vibrational level than most people--it is obvious by all the good things you do. I suspect that your husband, who also is on a higher vibrational path, gets ill when the lower energy surrounds him--he feels it in his body. That may be happening to you as well.

 You also may be shedding your armour. That is good, but it means you can no longer block out certain memories. I got through grad school by denying every emotion I had. The same with public school teaching: I felt like I was living in a war zone and I had to shut everything off. But it all catches up with you. I did some really fucked-up things before I started understanding what was happening to me. And that only began to happen in the last four years.

When you are with young children, you see their vulnerability.  Maybe unconscious memories of toddlerhood and  infancy are coming back. You may be experiencing them as sadness or wistfulness. You long for innocence to return to your life. Your mind is connecting the dots between current situations and past events that share the same emotional charge. Ultimately, this is positive: it may even be some kind of purification, cleansing the lower energies that weigh you down. But it feels like hell.

My suggestions are these: go with the process. Don't keep it in. Your husband loves you and even though they are young, those girls love you too. Keep a journal with you, and write down your thoughts. Don't worry about handwriting or making sense, just purge. Be good to yourself. What do you like to do? What do you find to be nurturing and safe? Find that and do it! Put yourself around kindness and compassion. It is out there, even when the world seems so unforgiving and cruel. It doesn't matter whether you deserve it or not: goodness always recognizes itself in other manifestations. Look for that as it will never let you go.

My thanks to my friend who allowed me to use this email to her.