It’s a really difficult practice to stay open and loving when the world we live in seems to be growing more painful and devastating with each day. Experiencing hurt, whether it’s on a personal, community or global level can often lead to questioning, confusion and doubt. ‘Why should I believe in goodness? What’s the point of staying with my practice? Is it even going to make a difference?’
When I find myself in these moments I try to give myself space to feel — and then Iean back into the teachings. I go to my practice, listen to my teachers, study and reflect.
Over the last couple of weeks what I have been reminded of is that we are living in a world that is deeply interconnected. Pain happening thousands of miles away can be felt by millions around the world, one persons vote has the potential to create hope or shame for an entire country. It’s not just I, it’s US. We are ONE. Every thought, word, action ripples out and is felt by all.
The truth of interconnection is at the heart of yoga. We can see this through formal practice when we have an intimate experience of the body, breath, mind and heart inter-relating. For example, when we are in asana, a small movement in the foot can create a subtle shift in the pelvis, which can lead to us feeling more or less stable. When we feel off balance, the breath tightens or stops, and the mind starts to race. We might start to feel anxious or stressed. When we feel more balance, the breath slows down, the mind becomes still. Calm and peace is possible.
What we cultivate during our practice, how we feel as we reopen our eyes, will determine how we step back into the world. It will decide how we pack up our yoga things, how we walk or drive home, how we speak to our partners or strangers. Each of these actions will create another reaction — and the pattern continues. Nothing is separate.
When we know this, it becomes clear — every little thing we do — matters. How we choose to process, grieve and continue living — matters.
A teacher of mine, Pema Chödrön, often says that all human hearts have the potential for war, or for peace. If we let our hearts become hard and closed, full of anger and hatred, we continue the chain of war. But if we can keep our hearts open, expand love and compassion, we can choose peace instead. It’s always up to us. We always have this choice.
So as we sit in these uncertain and troubling times, when we are in those moments of feeling hopeless or too small to make a difference — try to remember that what we do on a day to day basis matters. How we choose to be in our homes, in our relationships, at work, out in the world — matters. So do your best to keep choosing love, choosing peace and continue to strive for a world free from hatred, prejudice and fear.