Take a moment, right here, to close your eyes and breathe in deeply.
What do you feel?
Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are, from one perspective, doing just fine. Perhaps sitting in a coffee shop with your laptop, or at home in bed with your smartphone, or maybe even on some grand adventure with the luxury of online access at your finger tips.
Maybe things in your life are going wonderfully—maybe you have a job you love, a fulfilling partnership, or just an overall enjoyment for the little things. Or maybe your life isn’t so swell right now—perhaps you’ve recently lost someone you love, or you’re feeling aimless and without purpose, or maybe old patterns and pains are rearing their heads to show you what you still have to work on.
Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, one thing is certain: There is a deep feeling of heartbreak in our human collective right now.
Whether it’s the recent events in Charlottesville, the increasing media coverage of injustice and terrorism, the tweets from the POTUS, or the simple fact that darkness and hatred exist in this world, the underlying feeling of loss, hopelessness, or fear can be easily felt from all sides of this planet. Many of us, myself included, keep bumping into the realities of the tragic and unfair events of life and are left wondering what to do about them.
Should I just meditate on oneness and world peace? Should I run out and protest? Should I dissolve into a puddle of hopeless mush on the floor?
Where do I start?
In a time where I am asking myself these questions, I find it helpful to turn to the teachings of yoga for direction and answers.
At the beginning of Patanjali’s eight-fold path of yoga are the yamas: the five moral, ethical, and societal guidelines for the practicing yogi. All of these simple truths are excellent principals to live by, but if we examine and implement the first two, then we have what we need to get started:
Ahimsa (Non-Harming)—Ahimsa asks us to be virtuous in our actions, to treat others kindly and with respect, and to also hold this same standard for our own inner dialogue.
Satya (Truthfulness)—Satya asks us to be impeccable with our word, to speak honestly and with intention, and to share our own truths.
When we weave together ahimsa and satya, we are called to share our truth in a way that is helpful, not harmful. We are asked to speak mindfully and in such a way that we are leaving the world a kinder and better place. We are required to examine our lives and ask ourselves if there are any ways in which we are being harmful or untrue.
When we start to integrate these principals into our lives, then we have the foundation that we need to implement positive change. When we remember karma yoga, the first of the four paths of yoga and the yoga of action, then we know that the time to start is now.
The time to participate in creating a positive outcome when it comes to our society is literally right now.
We can’t change people’s hearts by wishing them that way. We can’t meditate away the reality that darkness is happening. We can’t change the stories and the hard truths that have built our society as we know it.
But we can continue to talk about it. We can continue to step into the bravery that we need to have the uncomfortable conversations—about racism, injustice, and inequality. We can hold that space with family, friends, or strangers. We can get angry, we can get sad, we can feel hopeless. But we must continue to move forward. We must participate in the necessary actions to make relentless forward progress.
We can allow this collective heartbreak to move through us. We can allow it to be felt in its entirety, but I believe we have a responsibility as thinking, conscious people to choose to move through life in such a way that helps to bring us all together. Whether you choose to take action in your daily life through conversation, through rallying for a greater message, through calling your representatives, or through providing funds or aid to helpful organizations, the time start is now.
“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” ~ Charles Bukowski
Author: Julia Albertson
Image: Diana Simumpande/Unsplash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron