In the current times of yet another conflict arising, and with it a new split in the general public, we are reminded of life’s ups and lows.
Whether we feel these at a personal or more societal level, changes are inevitable. A fact about life that that I find might be both the truest and most helpful at times was summarized by poet Robert Frost in three simple words:
Given that, our responsibility might be to show up and do our work to tending to what is currently happening inside of us. Which thoughts, which emotions, which longings and desires, which blocks or misalignments are calling for attention. Change will happen as a result. Society too changes, and sometimes from a kind of inner work we do as a group. For sure, when old wounds which were not healed completely open again, we ought to take care of them for real. In the past years, from #metoo to climate changes and the ongoing wars, we have seen many unresolved wounds painfully blowing up again.
The best we can do is thus to honor our double responsibility: on the one hand, 1) to meet face-to-face with ourselves, and 2) develop some faith in the process, on the other hand.
What I came to understand over the years is that, like the cycle of the seasons, at a personal level change happens in its own rhythm and—although it can be facilitated—it cannot be forced. I was not ready to change career from an academic researcher to a full-time yoga teacher right after my first teacher training. Actually, it took me four years to even open to that idea.
In the end, we are not always in charge of when we change, and thus what changes in us.
What can become under our capacity and, I would say, the other hand of our responsibility is to open to the possibility of such changes. This is where faith comes in.
Given the state of the world, each human in their heart might be hoping for change and do what they can to support it. Faith needs to be tended too. This is where our spiritual practice, our creativity, and our love for each other all play a crucial role. Faith can easily disappear especially when the world is turned upside down, and thus returning to it each day—whether through meditation, poetry, time outside, deep rest, or reading inspiring teachings, to name a few—is essential.
When we lack the willingness to honor our responsibility for inner work and faith, it is easy to wrong another for our suffering. This does not mean that our actions do not impact others, in fact they always do as the laws of karma in yoga tell us. Instead, what I intend to say is that blaming is a direct avoiding of dealing with the discomfort and possibly the hurt inside us, and a dismissing of our sense of faith.
As yoga and other spiritual traditions have explained for numerous generations now, the change we want to see starts inside us. This is something I keep verifying each time I find myself wronging someone else for whatever unpleasant experience I have. If I tend to what I am trying to avoid, if I acknowledge it and move it, it almost automatically changes and evolves into something else. Then, I trust and keep faith in the process of transformation.
With humble contribution, starting in my own self, I attempt to reconcile the many oppositions inside me and move one step away from yet another version of “me and others” that are all shutting myself from my true nature: love. This is my understanding of what I can do to change the world, to bring my own drop into the ocean of humanity.
In practice, it might mean to include the parts of me that I dislike. For example, the hard judging look I might have when I see myself in the mirror assessing whether I look acceptably good enough. It might mean to forgive myself for the mistakes I made in the past while acting on fear, hurting the feelings of others as a consequence. Yes, making room for when we failed is not easy. Yet apparently in life, we succeed and we fail too. We might as well as start the forgiving process… and keeping faith that we, too, are part of humanity.
The problem is not so much whether we fail per se but rather whether we are willing to learn from our failures. We fail, learn, repeat… until someday a feeling of love, and not fear, drives our actions. It might very well involve the help of another person who is willing to hold our hand as we do. Walking through life together, too, is part of humanity.
So I am asking you…
What opposite, contradictory, perhaps rejected part of you can you include today?
What change are you longing for, and are you willing to open to it in yourself?
We can do this.
Let us do the inner work, alone and together—and thank you for doing it already dear one.
Let us inspire and help each other from a place of love, rather than fear.