Hope and Love for the Homeless
My heart broke as I was walking down 23rd Street. this morning on my way to work.
I’ve worked in New York City for almost six years, now, and I take the time to walk two miles from Port Authority to my office in preparation to…sit for the rest of the day and stare at a computer screen.
One can see a lot in a two mile stretch in the city and, over the years, I’ve become somewhat immune to my surroundings. I no longer flinch when someone randomly yells or shouts profanity; I don’t jump at the sound of horns and sirens blaring; seeing a rat is like seeing a bird; and I can dodge people rushing down the streets with the reflexes of a professional athlete (if you want to call walking through the city a sport).
There is just one thing that gets me every time.
Walking the same route, I see a lot of the same homeless people. Being the yogi and human that I am, I try to give what I can when I can—spare change, some of my lunch. When I realized one can only give so much out of their own pockets, I started bowing my head every time I pass and say a prayer for them—send them well wishes for strength and courage to make it through another day on the street. I ask for them to be protected and safe and find the path that will help them get back on their feet. And as I rush by to get to my desk job, my heart pounds wondering how can I do more to help?
Today was especially hard as I walked by someone I’ve never seen before—a young man maybe in his late 20’s sitting cross-legged by the subway entrance. He had a small cardboard sign in his hands that read,” HIV+ and Homeless. Please Help.” His eyes were shut and his hands were in prayer at his third eye supporting his head. He looked lethargic and weak and by the way he was sitting, he looked like a yogi in meditation searching for strength. As my eyes welled with tears, I kept walking. I wanted to go back and I fought with myself to keep walking—I had to get to work, but I wanted to help, I said a prayer.
In a world where there is pain and suffering, there is also hope and love. It is these positive motives that counter the negative, keeping our world in balance and the energy moving. I’ve been trying to work on my meditation practice in quiet rooms with incense and candles, sitting up tall, not moving. And while I struggle to be still, I realized maybe being still is just not in my nature right now. Meditating can happen anywhere, anytime. Focusing on the breath while you walk, closing your eyes and quieting the noise on mass transit, opening your heart and saying prayers for the homeless. Your meditation doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a peaceful yoga studio or in the quiet of your own home, it can happen in the quiet of your own heart wherever you are.
My hope for the homeless is that they, too, can find the quiet in their own heart. I can’t imagine what it is like to be in the shoes of someone who carries everything they have on their backs, who struggles to find shelter just to get some rest, who exposes all they are and pushes pride out of the way to beg for money from strangers. I have to wonder if the man I past on 23rd Street today, who had his head bowed and hands to third eye was meditating in his own way. Our minds are a powerful tool, and the ability to quiet the noise of life and the never-ending chatter of our minds is something I wish all to find peace with. Start with yourself and send that energy out into the world. That’s how you can help.
Upon discovering yoga in 2004, Karen watched her true self shine through every time she practiced. After experiencing the many benefits of yoga first hand, she knew bringing these benefits to children could help shape their awareness, self-esteem, and confidence now and in their future. Karen trained with Little Flower Yoga (www.littleflower.com) in NYC and currently teaches classes at Alluem Yoga (www.alluemyoga.com) in Cranford, NJ. To see what the Alluem Kids are up to, visit her blog: www.alluemkids.blogspot.com. When Karen is not practicing yoga, she is most likely working on illustrating her next children’s book. She has currently illustrated 4 children self help books focusing on health, emotions, imagination, and self-esteem. (www.karengilmour.com)