I just saw the video of the Omran Daqneesh, a five year old boy who survived another recent bombing in the ongoing war in Syria which has claimed the lives of over 250,000 civilians (according to CNN) and left millions more displaced, and without homes. It is a truly heartbreaking image of a tiny being whose body and brain are clearly in shock, overwhelmed by the sheer horror of what he has survived. He and his immediate family did escape the rubble with their lives. The need for healing that will now mark their life journeys forever is virtually more than I can comprehend.
On this same day, I have seen the news that the federal government will no longer use private prisons. This is but a tiny step in the work of abolition, but it is giving me the tiniest boost of hope, providing the tiniest ray of sunshine right now, in the midst of the ongoing and ever-swirling chaos of life–of which the war in Syria and the death of queer and trans people of color and the sprawling gentrification and racial/political/economic injustice in Durham (and seemingly everywhere else) are just a few pivotal pieces.
This is exactly where I find myself right now, attempting to ride the waves and looking to every source I can for solace and stamina. I have to say that my practice is helping. When I stop and think (which is usually what gets me into trouble) about what I can do in the face of the seemingly escalating chaos, I find it hard to defend the yoga practice. Something that seems and looks so trivial…that smacks at times of privilege and elitism. I find I am judging myself, almost without realizing, for daring to invest the precious resources of time and money and energy into something so benign, so futile.
When people are dying. And the wars are raging. And the violence is viral.
And then I remember that I actually cannot face the enormity of the intensity of the world’s public and collective suffering without some practice that allows me to be in touch with my own personal and private intensity. The intensity of the suffering and also of the sweetness. The desperate longing for liberation and the tiniest glimpse of freedom. The hearbreak and the hope.
It’s all in there. In me. And in the world. If I don’t make myself available to it, to all of it, how will I know I can survive it? Without experiential knowledge of my own capacity for compassionate action and steadfast witness, I am lost. Without first hand proof that I can survive the ebb and flow of sensations that arise…abide…and dissolve in the practice (and in life), how can I face what’s out there?
The purpose of spiritual practice is to increase our capacity for compassion.
Join me tomorrow. Show up on your mat with everything you’ve got. I promise that whatever you bring with you–and whatever you find along the way–if you show up for it, it will show you who you are and what you’re capable of.