Seasons

Oh world, sometimes you are too much. This has been my thought more than once, or even twice, in the last couple of weeks. News of one death after another, along with difficult health diagnoses for loved ones, and disappointing news of human meanness all culminating with the devastating news of Orlando, left me feeling like I was being hit by shock waves, one upon another. This is how things go sometimes, I know, but it doesn’t make it any easier to grapple with.

In the wake of one thing upon another, I ran through feeling first shocked and deeply sad, to sharply aware of my own mortality, to frustrated and so powerless. After a few days of trying to run away from the heaviness of emotion, of prayer and contemplation, of meditation and asana practice, I paused. This is a season, I know, and some seasons are stark and cold–but these seasons, all seasons, end. And yet within this season, like all, there is room for something beautiful to be planted and to grow.

A long time ago, I wanted to be a lawyer so that I could fight against injustices. I realized, thankfully, that I am better suited to teaching and that in this role, I could teach about justice and love and healing. My friends, I believe we have a responsibility to love this world for all it is, to love and walk with each other, to pull each other up the mountain when needed, and to help each other back from the edge. I believe that healing is possible, even if the wound is of momentous proportions, and that this healing comes through with love and deep connection.

Recently, I said to our group of yoga teacher trainees that I believe, regardless of what students may say they’re coming to yoga for, that people really come to yoga because of a deep craving for connection and to experience union. In a time of disconnect, I believe we all need and crave deep connection. We have no shortage of stuff, of distractions, of stress. What I hope to cultivate in my community, in my students, in my family, and in myself is the ability to pause, to really see the person in front of us at any given time, and to know that life is worth far more than many of us are giving to it and to ourselves.

So in this season, I am strengthening my resolve and slowing down so that I may turn inward, assess what is serving my life and the lives of the people who trust me to be a teacher. I encourage us all to do just a few little things: know that you are worth nourishing and take the time to give yourself some nourishment; make space for solitude and prayer or meditation daily; become aware that these waves of emotion, stress, anxiety, fears are waves that begin, crest and eventually subside so that you can remember that you are part of a never ending ocean of love; figure out a way to slow down this summer so you don’t burn out; sing and dance a little each day; call someone you love and tell them so; eat a slushie outside; catch fireflies, get wet and dirty like you did when you were a kid; make room for more sleep; and then return to #1 and make sure what you’re doing is nourishing you in some way. I am working on remembering that doing more does not equal success to me, but that being present and patient within the waves, within the seasons, that’s where I can learn what  I must–how to offer myself in love to this beautiful and broken world.

The Lily, by Mary Oliver

Night after night
darkness
enters the face
of the lily
which, lightly,
closes its five walls
around itself,
and its purse
of honey,
and its fragrance,
and is content
to stand here
in the garden,
not quite sleeping,
and, maybe,
saying in lily language
some small words
we can’t hear
even when there is no wind
anywhere,
its lips
are so secret,
its tongue
is so hidden–
or maybe,
it says nothing at all
but just stands there
with the patience
of vegetables
and saints
until the whole earth has turned
around
and the silver moon
becomes the golden sun–
as the lily absolutely knew it would,
which is itself, isn’t it,
the perfect prayer?