Last week I arrived back home to my routine, familiarities, comfort, and responsibilities after 5 days on a Diné reservation. In 5 days I had heartbreakingly beautiful and painful conversations about social justice, sprituality, and yoga at a summit organized by Yoga Impact. I also had the privilege of being a (first time!) presenter and teaching yoga at the summit, which was an experience for me in and of itself.
It was one of those experiences where so many things you thought you knew about yourself, your healing, and these concepts (yoga, spirituality, and social justice) get broken wide open with no new clearly defined concept.
I'm in that space now. The space where you realize both how much work there is to do and where you feel more connected to the work than ever, because the importance of it has been re-awakened.
This post is a small attempt to put into words what this experience has taught me (although the lessons will always be evolving, and to be honest there aren't really words that I feel do it justice!):
1. INVEST IN YOUR AUTHENTICITY (Thank you Belinda). In a social climate where we're inundated with "how to's" and "should's": "how to heal", "how to be a yogi", "how to love yourself", "how to BE....", it takes ACTIVE investment (investment is energetic and intentional and not always financial, but that too) to show up as your authentic self, particularly if you don't identify with the "supposed to's" we've been getting shoved down our consciousness for hundreds of years. The reason it is an active investment is because it really does require work; unplugging from all that's external so you can begin to feel your way into your authentic self to eventually express it outwards.
2. SAFE SPACES ARE NOT A BUZZ WORD. They are essential to our growth, to our healing, to our remembering. They are the spaces where we can fully breath, an unguarded deep nourishing breath, without fear of judgment or offense to others. Especially when we're talking about issues like social justice and redistributing power, there is a REAL open-ness and unacknowledged pain that is allowed to come to the surface when there is space made INTENTIONALLY for that. During one of our workshops, the facilitator created separate caucuses for people of color to split off from white participants and explore how the topics impacted us. I realized that not talking about difficult dynamics like race and power in certain spaces had become such a norm, that I forgot that it really does take active energy to suppress those emotions. And it wasn't just talking about the concepts, it was acknowledging how they are STILL REAL, and not having to cite statistics and debate to prove that experience. Healing, discomfort, and being heard > comfort and being polite. Sidebar: safe spaces are NOT segregation. They are collective consciousness' way to remember how to take up space and to remember their divinity.
3. THERE IS SO MUCH WORK TO DO. And yet, while the work is being done, we can "walk and talk in beauty" (thank you Nanabah); even if the work is messy, it can be done with love, with honor, and with mindful presence. I got a glimpse into the Diné people's reverence for the land, for the matriarchs in their community, and their understanding that we are always in reciprocal relationship to others and the earth. There was this sense of responsibility for what we're each contributing, and also this awareness that our presence and the way we interact with others and the earth has a direct and immediate impact. I was also struck by how inseparate it all is; our bodies, each other, the earth, and that when we nurture all of these we move a little closer to the healing and connectedness that our ancestors are probably all waiting patiently for us to remember (or who knows they may be cursing us out and telling us to hurry up already).
I am so very grateful for these lessons, and also really aware about all the different privileges I have that brought me to that space. I'm also seeing how this honoring of the self and the earth doesn't have to just happen somewhere away from home. We are a travelling home, and can always honor and nurture ourselves. There is always space to call out oppressive systems, even if it's ourselves contributing to them. There is always space to remember what's important and what we're really connected to if we intentionally create it.
Here's to walking in beauty and remembering,