Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Heroes of the Heart

Last nights' classes I dedicated to the hero in each of us in honor of September 11. We honored the heroes that gave their lives on that day, the heroes who have carried on in the aftermath of the tragedy and even the many ways each of us are called to large and small acts of heroism on a daily basis in the natural course of life.

Six years ago on September 11 I was at Inner Harmony Retreat Center in Utah with John Friend. I remember at breakfast on September 11, John Epert, the retreat owner, came out onto the deck where we are all eating looking quite upset. He made an announcement about the attacks and a huge hush came over the whole group. It was the combination of shock, awe, fear, anger that I think was common to many people on that day.

There were about 45 of us on that retreat (That was in the days when you could study with John, for week with 50 people. Now his workshop are always 100+!) and many of the group, including Krishna Das, who was there leading kirtan every night, were New Yorkers. There are lots of things I remember about that week but one that really stands out is all of the back bends. We did six hours of asana each day and out of the 12 different asana classes that week, only 2 of them were forward bending classes. I think John didn't want anyone going too far inward that week as we were already fighting such deep feelings of sadness and grief.

So,we bended back and back and back and we dedicated every practice to creating beauty to affirming life and to making choices based not on fear and anger but on the deeper Truth of Life that Grace is ever-present, even in times of tragedy and heartbreak.

So my theme was Heroism. The Sanskrit word for hero is Vira. (Virasana, Virabhadrasana, etc.) "To be Vira is to be heroic of heart, generous of spirit and committed to your own deepest intentions. In Sanskrit, to be "Vira" is to be passionate about the truth and to be motivated by the inner voice that speaks directly from within." (from Professor Douglas Brooks)So in the flow class we did lots of Virabhadrasana variations and in the advanced class they made heroic efforts in a pretty intense back bending extravaganza, based on a sequence I learned in Pune this summer. That advanced class has been so much fun lately with new people coming and lots of people who are committing to coming regularly, which is really the only way to learn advanced postures. (My humble and correct opinion.)

So there it is, the theme for the week. May each one of us live a life of the heart and be blessed with the heroic strength necessary to walk the path we have chosen with integrity and passion.

Time for me to ge to my mat. Enjoy your day.

1 comment:

Anasazi said...

Your opening speech in class yesterday brought a tear to my eye, Christina. I lived in New York City for 8 years while I was going to college and graduate school, and it has always been more of a home for me than anyplace else I have lived. I was not living there any longer when the World Trade Center fell, but I return to New York all the time in my dreams, and I feel like the city is still a part of me, and I a part of it. My heart still breaks when I think about that day.

I also wanted to take a moment to salute a good friend of those of us who just graduated in the most recent YYTT class. I hope she won’t mind me sharing her story, but I’ll leave her name out of it just in case. In 2001, she was working as an airline flight attendant, and she was scheduled to work on one of the flights that crashed on 9/11. I’m not sure which flight it was on which she was supposed to be working, but she traded the shift with someone and, as a result, she was not on the plane when it crashed. To this day, she doesn’t know who took her place, but I think she has always felt some degree of guilt and responsibility for not being on that flight. For myself, I’m deeply grateful for whatever divine forces led her to be somewhere else that day, and I embrace her for her heroism in living on as a survivor of that day. I consider every day that she walks among us, practices with us, and laughs and loves with us to be a gift.