I’m not sure how to talk about light without also talking about darkness. The two are forever intertwined. Our challenge is to find the balance so that even if we find ourselves swinging wildly one way, we eventually make our way back to center. One doesn’t have to look very far to see the darkness: police brutality, racial injustice, a global pandemic, poverty and environmental destruction, just to name a few. Several months ago as the world began to shut down I was quickly filled with a sense of hope. It seemed there was a great opportunity during this global pause to evaluate priorities and maybe even make some major shifts in how humanity was living and engaging with one another and the environment. I’ve always believed that Americans are compassionate and have a way of really rising to the occasion during crises. It’s happened countless times throughout history.
Unfortunately over the last couple months, for so many reasons, I think people have become weary, disheartened and have in return started acting out of self-interest more and more. Many of us have realized we are in this for the long haul and it’s dark, it’s heavy and it threatens to really drag us down. I’m awestruck and frankly disappointed by the countless folks who continue to believe this pandemic is a hoax, who feel wearing a mask impedes their liberties and who flout public health orders. We know that people of color are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus both in acquiring the illness and in death. We cannot deny the direct link to the racial injustices that have LONG impacted these communities in areas of education, health care, housing, and jobs. But do we care? Do we really care?
Or are we merely content claiming BLACK LIVES MATTER on our social media all the while going back to “life as normal” because we’re tired of the inconvenience and will not likely be directly impacted?
So what about light? Where is the light? In times of extreme darkness we must double down on the things that bring the light: countless frontline workers and health professionals giving of themselves everyday, people choosing to wear masks and social distancing in the midst of fighting for racial justice through public protests, young people leading the way regarding climate change and record numbers of black women running for public office and specifically here in San Diego, countless volunteers showing up on Zoom to assist refugee students navigate online learning.
The darkness may try to overtake us. We may fall down and wish to wallow in our misery. But that’s not a long-term solution. We have to rise up and do things that connect us to our bodies, our spirits and to each other. We have to find ways to tend the flame, however small it may seem.
My yoga practice has helped me sustain the light these last few months. It gives my busy mind a rest from all the possible doomsday scenarios. It helps my body release built up tension and relieves my muscles of the burden of stress. When I practice alone I receive a respite from dealing with people altogether and when I practice with others, I’m reminded that the world is not completely mad.
I often end my yoga classes with, “Namaste.” One of it’s most common translations is “the light in me honors the light in you.” In dark times, this simple word is a much needed reminder that there is light in me and light in you. There’s power in this human connection. May it give us the strength to rise up and shine another day.
Where do you experience light these days? Share your thoughts below, they may be just the encouragement someone needs to hear.