Before class Saturday morning I was listening to a podcast with Pádraig Ó Tuama, a poet, theologian and healer living in Ireland. His talk was moving and spoke to many things I had been contemplating about how to come into relationship and conversation during hard times. He has a beautiful presence and profound wisdom and I highly recommend giving it a listen. Near the end eh shared a poem that made me really stand up and listen, in fact, I listened to it several times. While his lens is Catholicism, everything he was speaking to spoke to my practice and why I practice. I shared it in class and several folks felt the same way, so here I am sharing it with you. Enjoy...
"Neither I nor the poets I love found the keys to the kingdom of prayer and we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit. But I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway. So every morning I sit, I kneel, waiting, making friends with the habit of listening, hoping that I’m being listened to. There, I greet God in my own disorder. I say hello to my chaos, my unmade decisions, my unmade bed, my desire and my trouble. I say hello to distraction and privilege, I greet the day and I greet my beloved and bewildering Jesus. I recognise and greet my burdens, my luck, my controlled and uncontrollable story. I greet my untold stories, my unfolding story, my unloved body, my own love, my own body. I greet the things I think will happen and I say hello to everything I do not know about the day. I greet my own small world and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day. I greet my story and hope that I can forget my story during the day, and hope that I can hear some stories, and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead. I greet God, and I greet the God who is more God than the God I greet. / Hello to you all, I say, as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast. / Hello."
Yesterday on the way to teach my benefit class for Thanksgiving Day I saw not one, not two, but three rainbows over the course of about 5 minutes. It was breathtaking, it was awe inspiring and it also reminded me how much I had lost touch with every day wonder and joy. These past two years have felt overwhelming at best as we navigate all the challenges of our social and political systems. Instead of taking moments in the day to see joy, I'm often focusing my energy on what is broken. It made me take the gratitude I practice on Thanksgiving all the more seriously. Its not to say I won't stop paying attention and I won't stop fighting injustices I see in the world, but it is recognizing that I need to spend more time practicing gratitude around the every day miracles and wonders happening in my life around me. It was a powerful reminder and one I was so grateful to receive.
The fifth chakra resides in the the region of the throat and as such, has to do with communication. Communication isn't just about conversation with others, but also the conversation we have with ourselves. Accessing the energy of the fifth chakra gives us the capacity to know and speak our own truths. The biggest part of speaking our own truth is listening first to our own deepest desires. Find inspiration in this poem by David Whyte.
The fourth chakra resides in the heart center. This is our energetic heart, not our physical heart and has to do with love, compassion and our ability to extend these energies not only to those around us, but also to ourselves. Sometimes, self love is the hardest expression of love for us to connect to. This poem by David Whyte may help you find this ability to connect to love for yourself on your journey.
Opening up the energy of the 3rd chakra, we welcome in the big energy and heat of fire. Fire is potent and transformative and can connect us to our ambitions and our will. It can drive us forward. Too much of this energy can lead to burn out and anger. We can temper the energy of the 3rd chakra by connecting to its solar aspects and rather than connecting to the heat and power of the sun at high noon, we might instead think of the sun at sunrise, slowly and gradually warming as the energy builds. Connect to this energy with a poem by Mary Oliver.
The element of the second chakra is water. The energy of the second chakra is wrapped up in our sexuality and creativity. In conjunction with the energy of water we welcome in the adaptability and changeability that the movement of water brings. But we also tap into the freedom of water. Water wears away at anything that tries to hold it, overflowing or eroding to break through. Connect with this energy in the second chakra with this poem by Mary Oliver.
New Year's day marks the start of another cycle. We constantly witness cycles in our daily lives whether its through watching the inflow and outlfow of breath, the passing of the days, the cycle of the moon or the changing of the seasons. We are constantly part of cycles and living in cycles and they remind us that part of our work is letting go into the change. In a cycle there is always a start, a building, a dying away and a beginning again. If we try to hold on to hard in a part of that cycle, wishing things wouldn't change, we create a great deal of suffering for ourselves. The best thing we can do is welcome the energy of the time of the cycle we're in. For now, we start the new year. We are in the process of releasing the past year and preparing for the new. Here are the poems I shared New Year's Day for inspiration:
This year's winter solstice marked the darkest day in over 500 years. For many of us, this feels like an accurate representation to what we're
both in our outer and inner worlds. There is a sense of darkness that feels insurmountable and unshakeable. I have spoken with many people who feel overwhelmed by our current political and social climate and feel immobilized by their feelings of sadness and grief. And yet others I have spoken to have been mobilized by their anger and struggling with where to direct that energy.
It feels like many of us are looking for tools and frameworks of how to work with what we're feeling. For me, I have turned to my yoga community and its teachings to help me bridge the gap of action with intention. And yet as I’ve started to watch what is unfolding in the community I've seen a lot of interesting dialogue around "being positive," "focusing only only on love" and I have seen many teachers and students alike coming down on one another for negativity or the righteous anger they are expressing. I have to say say, as student of yoga and human being I am troubled by this.
Today I shared in a beautiful gratitude practice to 33 amazing yogis at Aditi Yoga. Preparing for this class, I had a challenging time as I thought about gratitude. For me gratitude as long been associated with positive and optimistic thoughts. And this year, in the light of the political and cultural climate that we're in, I found myself struggling to touch into this energy of gratitude. As I sat with this, I realized that I needed to accept and welcome the vulnerability, darkness and fear I was experiencing, and that if I could, I could actually have gratitude for all the difficulties I was experiencing and seeing around me. Turning to embrace this I found the following poems that helped ignite and inspire me and I shared with our group today. Enjoy!
Yoga teacher, sound healer and explorer of the inner landscape. Join me!