By Christine Mason
Sitting in my meditation room this morning, after arising early (4 a.m. today) and sending prayers for healing to people in Dallas, Orlando, Baton Rouge, and Minnesota, I next considered my family and myself. I envisioned my family surrounded by a pale golden light, a light of healing and protection. Breathing deeply, I filled my body head to toe with a pale golden light, envisioning healing for myself. As I continued to meditate, I felt a wonderful energy and positivity. Then, I turned to my yoga practice. As a yoga teacher, I typically practice 2-3 sets each week, reviewing what I will be teaching to my three yoga classes. With yoga music in the background, I stretch, challenge myself to hold a posture for just a little longer, and search for those accommodations I may need to give my students.
Most days, as I engage in yoga, I automatically feel gratitude for how I have learned to appreciate all my body does to support me, even as I discover a slight pain here, and even as I wish I were just a little more flexible, or that my body was a bit more perfect. I reflect during these times on how I can shift my focus from pain and feeling badly to feeling better. That’s the wonder of a few minutes of deep breathing– the thrill of knowing that I can improve my health and well-being without outside intervention.
How we heal. During my meditation-yoga time today, I began to identify how as we heal ourselves through a regular practice such as yoga or meditation, we might consider application of similar practices to heal our nation. Here are few things for your consideration:
- Breathing deeply can bring a sense of calm. What would happen if more people practiced deep breathing? What would happen if the deep breathing were done as a group activity in communities across the nation?
- When focusing on breath nd healing, energy can be created to further healing and a sense of optimism for oneself. This carries over to yoga classes; could this carry over to communities?
- With breathing and meditation, when my thoughts stray, I bring them back to lightness, love, positivity, or perhaps even in the Zen tradition, a sense of emptiness. After a while it feels as if the garbage and clutter are being cleared away in my brain, leaving a space for learning and enlightenment. Could communities benefit from a way to clear out their thoughts? Could breathing and meditation, or even sitting in silence, help to increase a community’s collective ability to focus and think more clearly?
- When we turn attention to violence, pain, and the busyness of everyday life, it is easier to be caught up in the negativity, to feel dis-ease, and to feel a sense of hopelessness. These all interfere with yoga and meditation; do they interfere with healing communities?
- Uplifting or meditative music enhances our yoga and meditation practices; how could they be used more intentionally and frequently to uplift communities as a regular practice?
- It is wonderful to practice yoga and meditation by myself. And when I practice with a group, sometimes the results are magnified. Sometimes in a group it is easier to meditate for longer and experience a more intensified meditation. Would a deep breathing practice accompanied by beautiful music, help communities at a deeper level?
21st Century Toolkits. CEI is interested in 21st Century practices. While yoga and meditation are ancient practices, each day, more and more research is available to support the value of these practices in helping to advance the brain’s neuroplasticity, to overcome trauma, and to provide multiple benefits to self. These practices might round-out a modern 21st Century toolkit. Might they also be used at a societal level? If so, how would that look? How could we begin more community practice?
Note: CEI applauds President Obama for his Dallas speech seeking healing and unity for our nation. Many steps are needed to bring about the deep healing that is so needed. We need to listen to one another, practice equity and justice, practice forgiving, celebrate diversity, and regulate the sales of assault weapons. My experience from teaching yoga for over 15 years is that adding a conscious, on-going practice including yoga, breathing, and meditation could provide multiple, immediate and long lasting benefits to individuals and communities.