Here’s what I’ve decided: the very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up and be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now, I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides” – Barbara Kingsolver (Animal Dreams)
I brought this quote to my yoga class last night, as something in it spoke to me, especially as we move towards the holiday season. We have endless commercials asking us what we are wanting for Christmas, what we hope to find under the tree. And I wondered—do most of us even know?
When we are so flooded in our world with both the excess of things and images (the eternal grasping), and yet also faced with the daily suffering of the nightly news (the eternal aversion and turning away); it seems there is no space for people to simply be. To realize their own true desires at the core level, underneath the advertising.
And I began to wonder about the connection to yoga—the flocking of American’s to yoga studios far and wide. What are we really looking for? Is yoga practice and yoga communities serving as a ground for hope?
I think in many ways, for me, Yoga has served as my hope. Somedays, it is on a smaller scale—I hope that my body may feel better, stronger, more capable. Some days it is for my mind, to be just little quieter. And some days, it’s on a much bigger scale; some days it feels like yoga is the only hope I have left for a world full of suffering (See: When your yoga teacher isn’t full of sunshine). In our yoga communities, through practicing the ethical codes of yamas and niyamas, I see that we are slowly crafting a better world. It appears in the small things, like when new practitioners are so surprised (and sometimes excessively worriedd) that they do not have to lock up their wallets when they enter the studio. That someone moves over their mat to create space in a full class. A smile shared, as someone falls out of a pose, and gets back in it. Elementary kindness. What a world it would be if this was practiced in every space.
As Barbara Kingsolver said it, it’s so simple, I can barely say it. Kindness. This is what I am hoping for under my tree, and what I am hoping for in my yoga classroom. As a teacher, I am astutely aware that I can craft a class that either helps people can truly begin to live in their own hope, or to contribute to a world of aversion and grasping, of tuning in and turning off. Right now, I’m living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.