Last night I attended a beautifully soothing Restorative Yoga Nidra class.
We were bathed in soft light, comforted by piles of pillows and blankets, creating space for our hearts to open, space where we felt safe to let go.
When it was over, we emerged to a world bathed in darkness, yet again.
We emerged to a world that is heartbroken, yet again.
I was immediately brought back to the hours after September 11. First, that initial disbelief, then shock, then feeling my heart constrict in fear.
I felt those same things last night except for one difference. My heart did not constrict in fear. I did not feel isolated or want to isolate myself.
What was different this time?
1. No Cable TV
We cut our cable and now rely on an antenna that gets local stations in sporadic bursts of clarity. In 2001, I allowed myself to be glued to the TV, watching the horror play out over and over again. I finally realized the damage I was inflicting when my then five-year-old asked why planes kept running into buildings. She thought it was happening over and over. And it was, in my psyche, in my heart. Once I turned it off, I was able to breathe again, able to focus on what was happening in the moment all around me.
Last night, I watched a brief bit of a special report. Just enough to understand what was known so far, not enough to send me into an obsessive black hole of fear and anxiety.
2. Social Media
We didn’t have twitter or Facebook in 2001. I was never much into message boards so the main way to feel connected to the rest of the world was through the news.
Last night, I found comfort in posts by friends on Facebook. I felt connected to a world beyond my own as I scrolled through and found, for the most part, nothing but love, compassion and vulnerability. It fostered a feeling of being in this together rather than an us-against-them mentality which is where this horror began.
3. A Regular Meditation & Yoga Practice
14 years ago, I merely dabbled in yoga and meditation. Today I have a regular practice. It provides a solid foundation for the rest of my life. I am able to stay in the moment and not get carried off into fear and what-ifs. Or, when that does happen, I am able to become aware of it and bring myself back to my body—to this breath and this moment. No matter what this moment contains.
Yes, we live in a world where darkness can seem to overwhelm the light.
Yes, that is scary.
It is bewildering.
It provokes a deep anger.
14 years ago I allowed my self to wallow in all of those things for much too long.
Today, I feel scared and will venture out into the world anyway, connecting with my fellow citizens.
Today I am bewildered, and will keep myself informed about all the situations surrounding these attacks.
Today I am angry at the people who did this and will feel that anger but not let it consume me, not let it cut me off from compassion.
Today, I feel the darkness and will light a candle, say a prayer, practice meditation and yoga to keep my heart open.
Isn’t that what the world needs now… more open hearts?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Author: Kim Haas
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Duncan Johnston / Flickr