I just returned from a beautiful four day retreat in the middle of the autumn woods in Virginia where I had space to nourish my heart, take care of my tired body, and reground in my purpose with my bhakti yoga teacher.
Throughout the weekend he invited the attendees to ask him questions and the same questions kept coming up over and over again, "how do I spread love in the world in the midst of all this anger and hate?" "how do I change the world for the better?" "how do I make myself feel less confused about what's going on around me?"
The teacher kept responding the same way again and again and again.
The suffering is in your mind, he repeated. Stop expecting that the world should be a certain way in order for you to be happy. If you want to find true peace, you're going to have to surrender how you think the world should be, who you think you should be, and judgments of others.
This state of surrender is not giving up and burrowing your head in the sand. It's a statement of radical love, of giving yourself back the power to change the only thing you can change, the state of your own happiness. And when you do that, when you gracefully detach yourself from what is happening around you as a condition to your happiness, as outrageous and crazy as what is happening may be, you start to feel a ease of heart. From that space, you can take action in a way that inspires, that motivates, that activates.
Look at John Lennon. He preached peace. His songs are famous because of it. But he was an angry man. And didn't really succeed in creating any lasting peace.
Then look at Gandhi. Why was he successful in creating a non-violent revolution? Because he did it from real love.
It is crucial when things are unfair, that we speak up, that we voice our concerns, that we state what is happening to those who are blind to it. But before you do, make sure you go within. Notice how subjective your perspective is. How righteous you think your subjective perspective is. How clearly it has to be your way in order for it to be correct.
Breathe. Be with the uncomfortable nature of sitting in the reaction without action. And then use this opportunity to practice compassion. For yourself and for those who do not hold the same views as you.
When everyone is telling you to close your heart and your mind, the practice is to open. Open your heart so wide you can accept it all. Open your heart so wide you can remember that your true nature is like the Sun, shining on everything regardless of whether it's "good" or "bad." Open your heart so wide you welcome yourself back home. When you come home to ourselves, we cause less suffering. And isn't that the whole point?
And then, take action. From a healed place, speak up. From an understanding perspective, share your truth. From a compassionate stance, be the light.
That is the only way you are going to make real, lasting change.
If you're feeling stuck between wanting to take action, and knowing when you should, that is where the practice enters. Meditation, yoga, chanting, use these grounding tools to support you find your center. Lean on your community. You don't have to do this alone.
In light + leadership,