This Big Bright Light of Mine...I'm Gonna Let it Shine

I would like to start this blog post with a poem from one of the greats,  Wendell Berry:

To my granddaughters who visited the Holocaust
Museum on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin

Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,

for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know

there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.

But remember:
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine

though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.

You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light.  It will be

the light of those who have suffered
for peace.  It will be
your light.

~ Wendell Berry ~

I awoke in the night last night with so many thoughts about today's inauguration.  What will the next 4 years look like for our citizenry?  In this time of uncertainty, I look history for some answers.  Humans are very predictable creatures, and we tend to repeat our behavior, albeit in a different context.  We have had a history great men and women who were courageous leaders of non-violent activism, opposing the leaders of divisiveness and violence.  These leaders of light and peace set incredible examples for us to follow.  However, due to realities beyond our control, many of us are limited in the actions we can take.  We have to still pay the bills and raise our families.  So, I began contemplating what we can do, on a daily basis, so that we do not succumb to apathy and complacency. 

Many eastern philosophies teach that happiness and contentment is found within our selves, not in our external environment.  We can have all the best things and people in our lives, but we may still be miserable in our daily existence.  Contentment arises when we can accept realities just as they are, without a clinging to, or a revulsion toward what exists.  There have been many instances where I have had to practice acceptance for circumstances outside of my control.  It is hard work to let go of the illusion of control, but once we let go of this misconception, there is freedom and clarity.  We only have control over our inner environment, and our choice to not suffer.  

Once we have arrived at relative acceptance, we can see more clearly what our real work must be: the inner work of self-love and compassion.  If we love ourselves enough, we can see that our acceptance of reality is not necessarily agreeing with reality.  We must express, authentically and bigly.

But how do we disagree and act on our passions, without waging violence, judgment or perpetuating divisiveness?  How do we continue to love those who seem to be at odds with our core values and principles?  This is where our human side can be at odds with our higher Self.  I do not claim to have the answer to this conundrum, but I do have some examples of how I have been taking on this challenge to my heart and spirit.

1. Daily Meditation:  time in stillness and contemplation (even 5 minutes), to notice my breath, my physical sensations and the quality of my thoughts.  I watch my judgements, tendencies toward self-righteousness and the flurry of emotions, get to know them, and allow them to soften with each exhale.  

2. Eliminate TV & Social Media: I choose not to participate in the TV and Social Media spheres of untruths and anxiety-inducing information.  Instead, I watch documentaries, listen to thoughtful podcasts, read quality editorials, and use social media as an outlet to spread positivity and truth.

3.  Community Collaboration: I choose to spend time with those who are participating in productive activism, self-care, non-violent practices, and those who love to laugh and have fun.  I will be marching to the California State Capital tomorrow in solidarity with my neighbors and friends, supporting equality for all.

4.  Creative Self-Expression: I write, sing and record musings on a podcast (to be revealed soon).  This allows my thoughts and feelings to move in a way that comes from my heart, not my head. 

5.  Share with Others: As a yoga teacher, I have a unique opportunity to speak in front of groups about my experiences, and encourage others to find time to feel, breathe, express and move their bodies.  This feels like I'm revealing some of my light to others, so that they can recognize their own light within, waiting to be uncovered.  This vulnerability is contagious and courageous. 

In order for us to create change, we must start with ourselves.  Learn to know and love yourself enough so that you act in a way that is true for you, honors your principles and values and allows your light to shine through the darkness.  These practices are individual practices, but eventually they must be taken into the community and shared.  Be bold and courageous and shine brightly. 

With Big Love and Courage,

Jeanne Marie