Finding Sanctuary
Barbara Benagh

A number of students have directly asked my advice on how to deal with the emotions of these nervous times in which we find ourselves. And everyone I know talks about little else. Events such as this provoke sensations and behaviors that can be strong and disorienting so, yes, I do acknowledge current events when I teach because they are already in the room.

In uncertain times a yoga practice can be a sanctuary, a place for retreat and I encourage  students to find the time for these moments of respite. My advice is to also be alert and contemplative in those quiet moments and become acquainted with the maturing inner compass that leans toward kindness in a distracting, messy world that too often seems motivated by the opposite. The insights from practice are helpful navigators.

While the current civic unrest is particularly unsettling, these times are really no different than others. Regardless of circumstance, it is easy to be overwhelmed and thrown off balance when habitual reactions kick in. I encourage acknowledgement and  refinement of responses so that adversity is met with resilience rather than reactivity and patience rather than panic. As a teacher I hope the inward  attention I encourage results in clear eyed attention to the world in which we live and motivation to take action accordingly.

That means get off the mat. Do something. Do something that reflects the kindness and compassion that are antidotes for so much that is causing suffering. So, yes, I mention charities or even solicit from a class ideas for good works. A yoga practice is a powerful ally in living in a way that actively deflects meanness and contributes to less suffering.