In the wake of tragedy there is a precedence of dangerous behavior long after the violence ends. That is where our country stands even today, days later. Everywhere I look and listen, I hear two strong emotions: fear and anger. We don’t need to be angry and we don’t need to be afraid right now. We need to allow ourselves to just be sad.
Our bodies don’t know how to digest grief of this magnitude all at once. That is why it takes time to heal wounds like this. We are all traumatized. We can’t just pick up and return to work on Monday and be the same people we were before. We need to be mindful of the deep ache, but give it the right name. It is sadness.
I’ve been slowly and absent-mindedly writing a response since I found out. Mostly because what I’m reading (or avoiding in the media) isn’t at all what I need right now.
Friday morning December 14, 2012 I spent teaching yoga classes. I taught people how to yield to themselves and then how to yield to others. We sat back-to-back and experienced and appreciated each other’s breathing sequence. We allowed the earth to support us and allowed our bodies to rest. My students jokingly asked that class be about quieting the mind and being more peaceful.
When I learned what else happened Friday morning one of the thoughts that eventually helped me through was the knowledge that I teach peace for a living. I teach people how to be comfortable in their bodies and how to recognize and name their emotions. I teach body awareness.
Body awareness is an incredible gift that not all of us have. It helps us to recognize when we are being irrational and need help. It helps us to notice the small changes, before the larger changes take place. Body awareness is a step towards building peace. Community is the second step.
My extrovert husband found solace in one of his church groups this weekend. He came home and remarked how lucky he is that he has a place he belongs. In our complicated lives we can define community in so many different ways from facebook friends to schoolmates to coworkers to church friends to family to neighbors. But within each context the ability to belong is so powerful and so necessary for all of us, even the purest of introverts.
I often call the Hampshire Regional YMCA my second home, not just because I teach six classes a week there, but because when I walk in I know everyone. We have routines and ongoing conversations and everyone loves being there. When I walk into the Y I know I belong. I know deeply that all my skills, my beliefs and my weaknesses are allowed within these walls.
I remember one really amazing yoga class about a year ago when I got rear-ended on my drive to the Y and I told them. For the first ten minutes of class my students held the space for me while I gathered myself so I could teach the rest.
Being a yogi is no small accomplishment in the world today. Taking time each week to show up on the mat and make yourself a saner, calmer person sends peace waves out into the universe. Peace is powerful.
I invite all of you struggling to change legislation and school rules or worrying about your kids to pause. Take a moment and ask yourself what you do every day to promote peace. Maybe you are raising peaceful children, maybe your work helps people change their lives in some small empowering way, maybe you try your best to live a peaceful life. Whatever it is your world resonates out into the worlds of others. You are a powerful promoter of peace and though we can always do more, acknowledge what you have already done. We need that right now. We need to remember all the violence that didn’t happen on Friday because we were busy promoting peace.
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