May Wisdom Guide & Hope Sustain. That’s It.

When I first started doing yoga, I appreciated that there was no preaching, no questions, or over-explaining of the experience.  The instructor led the class and it was left to me to make sense of it and notice what was going on for me.  At the time, I was a pastor in a church and I began to struggle with the act of preaching and what felt like laying on of advice, instruction, and making meaning FOR people.  And so much talking.  So. Much. Talking. I loved that I could go to yoga and have quiet time inside my head.  No deep questions, no debriefing, no bold proclamations.  It was so much quieter inside my head when I was practicing yoga.  The conflicts, doubts, hopes, and expectations that each seem to have their own megaphone and constant stream of monologue in my head, felt a little further away when I could just focus on opening my hand this way and softening my breath.

If and when the teacher shared some personal wisdom or reflection during the class, it felt like the unexpected interruption of a cell phone ringing; pulling me out of my body and throwing me into my head, full of all the self-critique and nonsense conversation. Now I am the teacher and can understand that desire to throw some spice and flavor into a class with some kind of witty & interesting thought.  At my best, I catch myself before I interrupt everyone’s good space.  Other times, I just barge in the sweet and warm room, talking loud and demanding attention.  Guh.  Sorry about that.

Yesterday I taught yoga at a women’s prison in a nearby town.  I taught on the Mom & Babies unit, a unique place in the world where women can apply to live with their newborn baby, as long as they are released by the time the child turns two.  It was my third time there and about half the group had been to the previous class.  The women that I had met before expected to be released within the month.  I knew, from previous conversation, that there was great anxiety about what would happen when they were released.  How would they find a place to live? How will they find a job and take care of their baby? How will they afford to live a healthy life and not fall back into the same trouble and misery that got them into prison? Their fear seems pretty warranted to me.  I can’t imagine how insurmountable it must feel to start over after prison, with a little kid in hand.

I felt like I should have something profound to say to reassure them, to bring meaning to their time in prison, suggest this or that, ask them more about their feelings, or just say something. I stumbled over myself for a while and then The Goodness of the World stepped in and reminded me to just shut up and lead the yoga class. We ended with 2 long minutes of silence.  I taught them the hand mudra (a hand position held during meditation) that signifies the mantra “May Wisdom Guide & Hope Sustain”. I was grateful for the mantra to speak for itself instead of feeling like I had to say something. {the mudra is; left pointer finger to thumb for wisdom & right hand open, palm up for hope}

I am a little overwhelmed with all the proclamations, debriefing, and talking that is happening after the horrifying attacks in Paris, and now Beirut, last night. I understand that the world leaders need to say something. But all the words seem to me insufficient, wrong, not helpful, confused, and loud.  The reporters and analysts sound to me like they are competing with each other to be the most profound, the most insightful, the most true and provocative.  So, I am avoiding it, to be totally honest.  It’s too loud and my brain is already overwhelmed by the basic facts of the violence. For now, I’m trying to quiet my own voices of fear, distrust, and despair by repeating again and again and again May Wisdom Guide & Hope Sustain.  That’s it. That’s just about all I have to say, actually.

May Wisdom Guide & Hope Sustain.

peace on your head,

Rachel

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