Even a little yoga is a refuge. And our communities help.
Last week, as we were sleeping, a portion of the ceiling fell on my family and me. Sounds dramatic! The building’s structure is fine. It is 3 inches of cosmetic stucco that fell on us. It hit us with rubble, and also fell all around the room to the floor with an incredible “bang!” (We have high ceilings, so anything dropped from a great height is going to create a massive sound!) We all jumped out of bed scared out of our wits! I was blinking and spitting out dust. Grappling to come to my senses and make sure my loved ones were ok. We were all ok!
We are all fine. The cats are fine. I have a few scratches, but no big deal. Our eyes were closed, so we are really lucky!
Despite being awakened to a sort of crisis at 2:15 am, having to take a shower, rinse mouths and organize new sleeping arrangements-- and then not being able to go back to sleep at all . . . I managed to teach a yoga class at 9:00 am. And I felt better afterwards!
No, it’s not because I am a “more evolved person” or whatever. (Trust me. I am working on becoming the wise person I want to be.) It’s because yoga can be very therapeutic. It can be a refuge from tribulations. Even a little yoga can be just the thing to soothe, re-set and move forward from a place of centeredness, instead of aggravation.
All I had to do was drag myself to the mat. And in this case, to the computer and do class like I always do for my regulars who show up every day for their yoga. In other words, I knew my community was there, so I showed up for them as well as myself.
To be clear--at 9:00 am there was nothing else I needed to do for that celling situation. We were all safe and everything was stable. All I had to do was find another space to teach class. If there was more to do to make things safe and taken care of, I would have canceled class. In this case, 1 room of my apartment was a disaster. I felt like shit. But there was nothing else I could do at that moment, so I did what was next on the schedule. I did yoga for myself and others.
Yes, I was tired. I was not myself. I know a lot of parents, doctors, people with busy schedules are sleep deprived, and they show up every day and do good work. I admire you all so much! I am not usually able to do that. When I am sleep deprived, I am cranky, forgetful, emotional -- -I say the wrong words for what I'm trying to say. I'm kind of a toddler, actually!
Part of me wanted to cancel class because I feared I wasn't going to be good enough to teach.
Despite my discomfort, I showed up to teach class because I knew my community would understand. If I wasn't totally myself, they would work with me anyway. They know I care about them, and I care about yoga. I was just practicing yoga, creating and holding a sacred space for the community to connect to mind, body and breath.
And you know what? As soon as I rolled out my mat, I started to feel good.
And sometimes, that's all we need.
We may feel like garbage, but we can crawl onto the mat. And we can do some yoga. Maybe we do less, but we roll out the mat anyway. Even a little yoga is good yoga. Our communities will support us.
And we will feel better!
We don't have to be "good." We just have to make time for our wellness. And remember our communities are there wishing us well.
Even a little bit of yoga is a refuge from tribulation. Simply rolling out the mat, moving and breathing is a therapeutic act. Conscious relaxation, connecting to self, taking time for reflection--is the greatest gift to ourselves. Even in the middle of a busy life situation--if it's possible, we can interrupt the stress of the moment and come to the practice--and calm down the nerves, connect to our centers, and move forward from a place of grounding rather than reactivity.
On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.
The Bhaghavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran, 2:40
Yoga is extraordinary, but it is also every-day stuff. We can show up to yoga, even when we don't feel optimal. And it will be of benefit and refuge.
I take refuge in the Buddha (heroes, and inner wisdom within us all)
I take refuge in the Dharma (wisdom teachings of peoples, passed down and shared)
I take refuge in the Sangha (community, like-minded souls)
We can take refuge by just coming to the circle. There will always be more things to do in our daily lives. But we can take an hour a day to show up and connect to our inner heroes and wisdom, to the wisdom teachings of our peoples, to our communities who support and care about us.
Sometimes, there's nothing to it but to do it. Just make the space and trust. Even if it isn't the biggest relief of your life, even a little time spent on wellbeing will be a deposit in the wellbeing bank. Every moment we spend in conscious relaxation will train the body mind into more and more relaxation.