This morning I escaped to my Ashtanga yoga practice. I needed to meditate and breathe, and not just in the usual sense.
Since last Friday’s horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I have been on a roller coaster of emotions: pain for the victims’ families, friends, and teachers; immense sadness at the loss of so many innocent little children; horror at the senselessness of such a devastating act.
I have also been angry at our country, our leaders, our health care system- all people and institutions which should be capable of working together in a manner which could have prevented this from ever happening. These feelings and a sense of helplessness in the face of it all have kept me slightly nervy and emotional all weekend.
So this morning, I really needed to get out of my head and into my body and breath. I thought it would help me, and it did, but in a way I hadn’t anticipated.
In the middle of my practice, I found myself drifting towards thoughts of the event: things I’d heard on the radio, images I’d seen online. My eyes would well with tears and I caught myself grinding my teeth. “Come back to the breath,” I kept telling my mind. And then, out of nowhere, “Peace.”
Repeating “Peace” brought me to a quieter place emotionally, and I was able to finish my practice.
It also gave me a small personal epiphany about meditative monks, like the Tibetans. I had never been entirely sure how I felt about monks removed from the world, praying and meditating; I confess I have wondered sometimes how those actions could make a difference.
Today, I think I had a tiny glimpse into the power of a meditative practice: I felt active. I felt connected to those families. It is something to experience compassion and pain for someone else’s suffering, to hold it in your own mind and heart, and then release it on the breath. The relief I felt at being able to do something, anything, was powerful; I can see how it could even be healing.