So many people I know ended this past year with a sigh of relief, having struggled through 2016, or as John Oliver so graciously said ‘F*&%# 2016!!’. And although it may not seem very ‘yogic’ I find honesty and people like him refreshing and a bit of a bright spot through some very difficult times.
The world is a mess and there is no glossy positive spin or catch phrase I can throw at you to make it sound better. No words of placating wisdom about how it is just the Kali Yuga, it is the nature of this existence or as my friend says… That it is really nothing new. The world has always been a mess (ever since we developed opposable digits).
And maybe it is some fault of the constant media cycle, but within this year we witnessed one devastating loss after another from Aleppo and ISIS to Brexit and the US election. We watched women choosing suicide over rape, white supremacy on the rise, misogyny at its finest. We saw people choose fear instead of love and we saw the potential and clear loss of freedom and respect for ourselves, our neighbors, our loved ones. The loss of freedom for people we do not know, but deeply recognize as ourselves.
The Brexit vote became less about sovereignty and more about a fear that refugees would overrun their tiny island. The US election was like a bizarre re run of the witch trials, and depending on your favorite movie characters, most people started feeling like they were preparing to battle the death eaters lead by Lord Voldemort or preparing to take their last stand in the wars for Middle Earth. And watching the new appointments to the president-elect’s cabinet was like watching the take over of the Gotham Underworld.
And the grief….the sheer enormous grief felt across the globe on every level. Grief for the Water Protectors as the cops sprayed them with water in below freezing temperatures and shot off a woman’s arm. Grief for the Muslim girls afraid to wear their traditional dress. Grief for the scientists fighting the ridiculousness of climate change deniers, and for the Hispanic children terrified their families would be torn apart…..The grief of every terrorist attack and the enormous, unbearable grief for the refugees…the endless endless refugees with no home, no food,with nothing…having witnessed horrors no one can comprehend and being completely stripped of basic human rights that all beings should have and could have if there was simply a little less greed.
And as tiny (and big) lights went out ~ from Leonard Cohen to David Bowie to the ending of the Diane Reem show on NPR, it was hard to keep holding to that light and believing. It was hard for activists of 30, 40 years to look at the world and say that everything they had fought for, all their lives, was still there to fight for….that they still had hope.
And as a Yoga/Ayurveda teacher for over 30 years and as someone who since early childhood recognized the cycle of demise we were on, and has consciously tried to live simply in accord with nature with the motto ‘less is more’, I felt myself break each time I listened to the news, each time consciousness seemed to sink a little more. On Nov 9th, the day after the election, I walked out of work and went to the woods to cry, unable to function in any role of teacher or therapist.
And like many, while thoughts of leaving the country to building greenhouses and backup solar power was occupying my mind, I kept asking ‘What can I do?’.
Nothing extraordinary came to mind, except the poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer kept coming in… the part where she says ”I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.” And so I did, I got up.
I got up and I kept coming back to the joy and simplicity of Yoga and Ayurveda that teaches us to get up and do the ordinary daily routines of self care, to cook meals with love in balance with nature, to move the body with intelligence and respect without excess and pain, to get good sleep and take time in nature to rest and heal. To remember beauty and to follow the wisdom of the seasons in a world gone mad while the poles continue to shift and the earth continues to shake. To sit and find the breath, to find some center and to Chant and be Happy as that old Hare Krishna book with George Harrison on the cover once claimed.
Chant and Cry, chant and be happy, chant and be….but to chant the cosmic Sanskrit vibrations, the Lakota ceremonial prayers, gospel hymns or the Beatles ‘Revolution’…. and to keep offering Yoga teachings and Ayurvedic consults and massage therapy for the weary, strained and stressed bodies that walk in with their own stories of grief and despair. To do what needs to be done.
There is no quick answer or weekend warrior workshop training that will bring us out of this dark age of consciousness. There is no intention/goal setting workshop or vision board that will suddenly make 2017 a better year than the one we just left. There is only the ordinary everyday actions of love and presence and simplicity that can help us find balance in a world upside down. There is only each of us getting up each day to do what needs to be done with all the kindness and love we can muster.
And oddly, after a way too busy December and me saying yes verbally when my body and heart said no, and traveling over the holidays (which I never do) and then sitting in hot springs in the sacred Cherokee mountains and being sick for days with a cold. ..I woke up Jan 1st, 2017 and I felt different.
Arriving home after a ridiculously long day of travel, I crawled into bed and slept and dreamt of the subtle realms of energy channels, and the 6 tastes of Ayurveda and I gained new insights on how the sweet taste is the last taste to leave us before we die and how the Rasa Dhatu effects us when it is dry or cold and I dreamt of my spirit dog Penny lane and I got to feel the softness of her ears one more time……and I felt different.
I woke up feeling oddly hopeful. I woke up and gave all the deities in my home a bath. I cleared out a few stagnant corners of our home, had a lovely breakfast with my husband and I got on with the daily ordinary miracle of being.