“Philando Castile, I’m so sorry we all know your name today.” I read this today, in an Elephant Journal post. I am sorry, too, and tremendously saddened.
We can post memes and # tags and change our Facebook profile picture in some sort of statement of support, sympathy, hope. And that’s okay, but it leaves me feeling mostly hollow.
The world has been a fairly f%@$ked up place lately. As I watch the latest #WTF news item, I vent and curse and rage against the world, feeling all the emotions. Bewilderment. Anger. Despair. Fear.
I try and understand more about what’s really going on; I consider different perspectives; I wonder if there’s anything I can do to make it different (and there usually isn’t). Sandyhook, prayforparis, jesuischarlie, Londonbombings, cecilthelion, OrlandoStrong, prayforIraq, DallasPoliceShootings — each hash tag laden with grief.
And then I proactively and determinedly get up and go and do something that will create the exact opposite feelings, a kind of revolt against the revoltingness of things around me. I don’t want to wallow in the evil, the atrocities, the tragedies. I can’t. It’s a pointless spiral of sadness that can become overwhelming.
So, I walk through the darkness, step over it, beyond it, and I choose to find a way to create happiness, light, love; within me and around me. I do any small thing that begins to create a bubble of joy inside. Hug a friend, cuddle a dog, smile at a stranger, go outside and marvel at nature, BREATHE, exercise; feel the bliss and gratitude of being alive. The unexpected comfort of ordinary things.
Yoga embraces the full spectrum of life, from dark to light; it’s the full human experience. I’m not dismissing the darkness. It is there. But I won’t let it override the goodness of humanity. There is abundant kindness, compassion and love in our world, too. This viewpoint is vital, for cultivating hope. It puts me in a more positive place, to make my small, but valid, contribution to a kinder world, and hope for a ripple effect outward.
I can’t do anything to heal the grief of Mr Castile’s family, I can only send prayers. Surprise, surprise, I can’t make global terrorism or animal cruelty disappear, either. But I do find one small shred of joy begins to expand into a bigger, brighter outlook on life and when I focus on that, I notice the uplifting effect it has on me and those around me.
My role in the revolution, this revolt against darkness, is to maintain the awareness and balance yoga cultivates; refusing to succumb to thoughts or behavior that are rooted in fear, or that create separation between me and the rest of my fellow human beings, no matter how different we are. The practice of yoga is available to all, a reflective space in which to plant and nurture seeds of joy and compassion.
B.K.S. Iyengar says, “Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim”. That’s what I’m doing today. In a somewhat tiny acknowledgement of the pain and suffering of others, I’m choosing to not let that light dim. I invite you to do the same.