March 17, 2011

3 Ways to Deal with Catastrophe. ~ Carmel Hagen

Elena Brower on Healing.

It’s a classic winter morning in Miami Beach, Florida—which is to say, it’s 78 degrees, breezy, and, unlike most other destinations, the color family of “neon” has taken no seasonal hiatus from the city sidewalks. I’m sitting on a balmy deck at The Standard, drinking in the newest (and swankiest) incarnation of Wanderlust, the yoga-meets-music gathering whose buzz has been gathering steadily since its 2009 debut.

But there’s no denying the bittersweetness to this sun soaked opulence, when just a body of water away, a country’s suffering—triggered by the same earth we’re bowing in appreciation of—tumbles over its shaken borders to tug at our hearts.

I find myself sampling an odd pairing of guilts. First, one that absorbs these surroundings in their whitewashed perfection, half man-built, half nature-made, then spits them out with a timidly criminal question of “Why me?” Second, one that looks across the water and at the rising numbers of casualties in Northern Japan, then wonders, “Why not me?” What same universe can shield 150 yogis from a simple sunburn, while exposing countless thousands to a lifetime’s worth of pain?

When the earth coughs up such stark contrasts in the differences of what it means to live another day, the natural response is to shut off to joy in a silent salute to the pain of our fellow man. But if healing is the result of an open heart and positive energy, is shutting down really our most helpful response?

I sat down with a similarly conflicted Virayoga founder (and Elephant yoga crush) Elena Brower for a heartfelt discussion on celebration in the face of catastrophe. Elena, as compassionate and genuine as ever, had the following three steps towards conscious, projective healing to share.

Acknowledge catastrophe.

As with all things, greet catastrophic events with an acknowledgement of their existence. Likewise, identify and absorb your initial reactions to those events.

Make room for healing.

The space that holds the compassion, energy and strength to heal is present in everyone, but it’s also limited in capacity. If there is catastrophe within, attempting to heal the catastrophe in the outside world can be difficult, if not impossible.

When disaster strikes, it’s not rare to find that the emotions it uncovers surfaces unrelated emotions that were hiding within your own personal pain. Acknowledge those emotions, then take the time to clean them away. With that action, your inner capacity for love and compassion will increase, making space for healing.

Broadcast, blast it, share it.

With an open heart and gratitude, broadcast your best vibes to the elements that we share across the world. Air moves, water moves, the sun rises over every part of the world—share the components of your healing practice with the elements of nature that touch everyone.

The hearts of Wanderlust attendees are with all those affected by the recent earthquake in Japan. In addition to sharing what love we have with those who suddenly have so much less, we’re texting REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to those in need.

Carmel Hagen does things with words, the internet, and words for the internet. After six years of online journalism, advertising and internet startup experience, she came to yoga seeking to extend the benefits of mindfulness, limitlessness and balance to the innately joyful – though sometimes all-consuming – process of creativity. So far, it’s working.

Online: www.carmelelise.com

On Twitter @carmelelise

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