As I sit down to write this month, I’m counting. We are 48 hours from Election Day. These few days hold the blue moon on All Hallows’ Eve, Samhain, All Saints Day, All Souls Day. It’s been 230 days since we closed the door after our last class at 401 N. West Street. It’s 25 days until Thanksgiving. It’s 61 days until we turn over the calendar to 2021— blessed be. It’s a time of remembrance, and hopefully a time for change. A movement toward kindness and truth.
Day to day reality has, for most of us, changed radically since last year at this time. If you’d have given me a snapshot of today, just one year ago, I would never have believed you. COVID has put many of us into a type of isolation not known before. We’re without the option of physical touch as we’ve had it our whole lives. There’s been a foreshortening of the future, where it’s hard to plan much of anything beyond lunch, or maybe next week. One of the many things I’ve learned during this time is how much I have counted on the “what’s next” to get me through the now. It’s interesting to see what happens when we can’t plot our course through the big wide expanse of possibility; when we are forced to be just right here, just right now, with no escape plan. This is not easy. Not for anyone.
And so it has felt very good and necessary to dive back into the yoga in earnest this fall. I’ve spent the past two weeks steeped in Ahimsa (non-violence) and Satya (truthfulness) as I guide a fantastic group through The Yamas. One of the great gifts of yoga is that we can return to the same teachings again and again and keep learning, keep digging. Kindness and truth. This is what we need to practice now.
As we move into the next few days and the next two (or more) months, how are you going to show up? Can you tap into the truth beneath the surface? Can your choices be kindnesses even to those you don’t know? As yogis, we have the tools (and I’d argue the responsibility) to shift our perspective, focus and energy from the individual to the collective like never before.
First, the election. I sure hope you have exercised your right to vote. And regardless of the outcome of each race, there is much work ahead to remember and live from the knowing that we belong to each other. We must expand our capacity to show grace to ourselves and those around us, especially those who believe differently than we do. A firm footing in the practice of ahimsa— non-violence in thought, word and action— is needed if we want to change our course from divisiveness to connectedness. Non-violence is not just “not” doing, it’s actively moving, working, living with fierce goodness and compassion.
Second, the holidays. Even and especially as we become weary of social distance and all that that entails, we must not fall into complacency. We could ignore the wellbeing of the collective and go on about our holidays as we’ve always done, gathering friends and family from near and far around a table. We could bemoan the notion of the holidays not being what we wish them to be, not what they’ve been in the past and put our wants and needs first under the guise of tradition. We could ignore the reality of the consequences of our actions on those who are most vulnerable, and those on the front lines. With any of these choices, we are ignoring or avoiding Truth. We are not choosing kindness, nor are we operating with the wellbeing of all in mind.
Please, can we all take a deep breath (or many, many breaths) and remember that this, like everything else, is temporary? We have another choice. What if we release our demands on ourselves, those we love, and the world around us to be something other than what it is right now? What is the truth of the moment? Hold that before you, and let the wisdom of ahimsa show you what is the most kind and compassionate choice, in the largest sense. Instead of blindly trudging on, can we create something new, that fits this moment, this month, this season of our lives? What if this year we just do something different?
While it feels like it’s been five years in one, 2020 is a moment in time. A grain of sand on the beach. We each get to choose to be part of the solution or part of the problem. There is no middle ground or grey area here. And I think there’s great possibility not only in being part of the solution, but in the options that appear as we open up to something new we may have otherwise never considered.
Even with all the countdowns, my heart knows we have a long road ahead. Ahimsa and satya are the best of traveling companions. As I said to our “Lucky 13” trainees last week, do what you can do. And do it with kindness and truth as your guide.