Q) The news can be so intense! How do I not sink into heart break? How do I remain engaged?
I think that in the last few days and weeks, at some point or another, we’ve all asked ourselves this question.
First, anyone interested in practicing at our studio certainly should know that whatever your political, cultural, religious, or sexual affiliation, all humans are welcome. We are human beings first.
I’ve written before about this life being designed to not only break our hearts, but break our hearts open. Many of us have faced huge challenges. Some of us have had to care for loved ones who have been sick. Some have come back from grave illnesses. Some have fled war-torn countries. Incredibly resilient people practice among us.
There are guidelines at the heart of this yoga practice that inform how we navigate life: non-violence & compassion, truth spoken kindly, an interest in making a situation better than we found it, using our energy well, and being present to life and to (all) others to the very best of our ability. These values inform how we move through life.
What characterizes those that can live with their hearts broken open is the quality of resilience. Resilience is the result of using one’s energy well.
One reason our practice is so valuable is that it provides the space to get quiet and “rest the mind,” or as I’ve been saying lately, “drop the mind to the ground.” Through practice, we learn to let the busy and often anxious mind pause at a moment’s notice. In the practice of yoga, a distinction is drawn between two minds: the busy mind which can get us where we’re going when well directed, but also can run us amuck (especially during times of uncertainty or conflict), and the mind of wisdom and discernment.
When we come to our mat, or sit on our cushion, and “let the mind drop to the floor,” to return to the innate awareness we all share as a function of being human, we’re developing the ability for discernment. We lay down what we think, and what we know, and what we think we know, and we listen inside. We befriend silence. This is how we cultivate the discernment that knows best where to place our energies, that knows how we can be useful. Meditation teaches us how to be vehicles for our greater good.
One of our favorite teachers, Mingyur Rinpoche, advises that rather than a long period of time once a day to sit in meditation, stop to sit five times a day, two minutes a piece, so as to slowly change the chemistry of the brain (by now I don’t need to site all of the studies that point to the physical and emotional benefits of meditation – I think you know). Internal navigation is a capacity we all have available to us with some training. This is one essential reason to practice. So that when life offers us more than we think we can handle, we go inside and with “unbearable compassion” a great term by Ram Dass, meet whatever is there. When we find heart break or any emotion we just assume not feel, best to wrap our awareness around it like a mother for her child, like a hug. Internally embrace all that is there. This way, heartbreak has the chance to become the heart breaking open. And this is good news. Because we can use the compassion we’ve generated for ourselves towards others the world around us. It sounds like a strange practice, certainly one we didn’t learn in school. This is the love that February offers disguised as romantic love. What we’re learning how to do is BE LOVE, not as a function of what someone did or didn’t do for us, but because we can. This practice brings freedom and enables us to meet the moment as it is and meet people wherever they are.
It is good to know that we always have the mat and the cushion to return to, to go inside into the best friend of our own breath and silence, to rest and to listen.
We have no evidence
of not being able to handle
anything life brings us.
How do we know that?
~ Cheri Huber