I don’t say these things out loud, but these days I hesitate to go to a movie theater with my family.
I imagine the worst—everyone I love being shot hundreds of times. There is no escape route. The Sandy Hook massacre still lingers in my bones. I feel the darkness and vulnerability of this world.
In spite of my fears, I went with my sweet family of five to see The Hobbit. I didn’t plan on enjoying it and really went to be with them. Maybe this is what I needed to do to face my fear. It worked.
At one point I totally forgot that we could all die. As I sat in my seat surrounded by my kids and husband, wearing 3-D glasses that looked like airplane goggles and our bellies full from popcorn and blue sugary frozen drinks, I felt momentarily complete.
Midway during the three hour epic movie, Gandalf the Grey Wizard, played by Ian McKellen, explained to his band of warriors why he chose the unremarkable hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, to come with them on such a dangerous journey:
“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found…I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay-small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid and he gives me courage.”
Gandalf’s words are the heart of yoga.
Every time we go to our yoga mat or meditation cushion, we are doing our best to free ourselves from our own murky shadows and go to the good. We learn how to do this first in our own bodies, minds and hearts. If we practice yoga long enough, eventually both our dark and light side is revealed.
We are all ordinary people made up of both.
We learn how to deal with the parts of us that are whiny, bitter, desperate, judgmental, clinging and fearful. We locate the parts of us that are solid, sturdy, compassionate, kind, knowing and loving. This is what we strive to bring into our every day lives.
Yoga is a small act.
Even if you can do big showy yoga moves like put your foot behind your head, it is really just a small thing in the hierarchy of this world. But the deal with yoga is that your yoga mat is your mirror. The small acts that make up a yoga practice polish the mirror over and over again and help to keep the darkness at bay.
Every time we practice yoga, no matter how we show up, we return back to love. It is our willingness to be present, breathe, be compassionate, and real that creates courage. Every time we show up for practice we perform a small act of kindness to ourselves. A kindness we can extend out. This is how we heal. This is what we have to offer to the world.
Ed: Kate B.
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