Times like these inspire movement in the core of our being. Stillness is no longer an option; even if we are “frozen in the headlights,” our hearts keep a frantic beat. Evidence of souls and societies thrashing through the raging current is posted everywhere we look. Motion – movement – the urgent need to DO SOMETHING – becomes as pervasive as the despairing news fueling it.
In our effort to console each other, we offer our empathy and sympathy. We throw it into the tide immediately, with simultaneous abandon and authority, as though our words are actually hands outstretched: a glass of water for the thirsty.
“I’m sending light & love!”
We feel hollow, maybe even desperate, somewhere deep within our bodies. Static may fill our minds, or we may see red – if we can see through the tears at all. My throat feels hot and my eyes want to dart anxiously, fluttering beneath a heavy forehead. That is how I feel.
So – am I really sending light? Am I sending love?
Am I sending anything at all?
From my personal place of pain and confusion, I have refrained from offering condolences, compassion, or empathy. My FaceBook status stayed static as I lurked around reading people’s opinions and reactions: a lot of pain, anger, and confusion along with many simple, heartfelt declarations of “light and love” or synonyms.
But – here’s the thing: light & love are the opposite of pain & anger. Dr. Martin Luther King explains it in his widely-circulated quotation:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
So, how do we DO this? How do we actually begin to drive out darkness, to love-out hate?
Here are 7 ways I’ve found to (actually) send light and love. These can be done individually or with others. Keep in mind that magic happens when imagination becomes focused intention, and its power magnifies exponentially when multiplied by two or more people.
For those who want a quick-read, I’ll simply list the 7 techniques first and go into more detail about each, including ways to modify them for a group setting, later.
Read on for more detail and guided exercises so that you can (actually) send light & love!
I once believed that a “drishti” was an imaginary spot on the horizon – or, in an indoor studio, on the wall – that I should pick at random and look at with utmost ferocity so as not to fall out of complicated balance poses. Like Dancer, that gorgeous silhouette where I hold my leg upward, curving behind me, with one foot planted on the ground as my other hand stretches out toward … well, my drishti.
Since the first time I practiced yoga, in a Caribbean studio above Lalita Juice Bar, I knew that my mat would be my way home. That warm, sunshiney, salt-breeze and banana tree –scented evening was the first time I met Jonathan (later, simply “Jona”), the first time I learned to move with my breath, and the beginning of an intentionally-lived life. I ate a pork chop after practice, much to Jonathan’s shock and horror, and knew I’d be a yogi through the end of my days.
Heartbreaks, mistakes, accomplishments, travels, journeys, love-death-life . . . a journey began on that island, and took me off of it. My demons nearly swallowed my whole. I conquered them. New ones sprang up to take their place. I named them. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ve tamed them.
Now, seven years later, I am taking my next big yoga “hop-or-step forward.” So much has changed. I don’t eat pork chops anymore, for one thing. Jona, my dear friend, mentor, and Guide, has moved on to a nonphysical plane. Instead of sunshiney, open-air studios, I often practice in my own living room as snow falls outside during the long New Hampshire winter. And my eleven-month-old baby Jasper slobbers, crawls, and yanks on my mat as I breathe into my poses.
On my first night of yoga teacher training, I learned that a drishti is actually an energetic, internal focal point. And it’s a specific point. (Technically, there are 9 drishti, but I won’t get into that here.) Sure, it helps with balance. And, in the beginning stages of developing a yoga practice, it may well be an “imaginary dot on the wall.” But really, it is so – SO MUCH – more than that.
Maureen, my yoga-teacher teacher, described finding drishti as “turning your focus inward,” and explained that it’s sort of the same as, or happens during that moment, of BE-ing the pose, rather than doing the pose. When she got into a beautiful Tree – you know, the one where one leg makes a triangle on the other leg and both hands stretch toward the sky – I could feel-see the threads of energy waving around her, shimmering almost, and then they straightened out, taut, vibrating with prana – life force – as she became the pose, for an instant.
My hands heated up, responding to her energy. All of us felt something in that room. One of my fellow yogis, in awe of the transformation that had already begun, exclaimed, “I can’t wait to meet myself in December!” Another described her intention to transform grief into light so that she may “become a beacon for others.”
Magic happens when imagination becomes focused intention, and its power magnifies exponentially when multiplied by two or more people. There are fourteen women starting on this journey with me. That’s a lot of magic.
Drishti isn’t random. It isn’t a desperate, ferocious frown-stare into an imaginary “don’t fall dot.” It’s intention, focused, on purpose, to become that which we were always meant to be. It’s taking that hop-or-step forward, to the front of my mat, and riding the wave of my very own breath as I surrender to those threads of power, confident that their shimmery delicacy is weaving the tapestry of my life. And this time, I am the weaver. I am the thread. I am the breath. I am the Dancer.