Well, we had a very full weekend here at "The Monkey."
A little back story about what brought me to Hilo- Heather is the lovely owner of Balancing Monkey and she has spent a lot of time the last few years with me and Darren at Yoga Oasis in our Immersions and Teacher Trainings. About 8 weeks ago, Heather gave birth to Max who lived for 8 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before being taken off life support and passing on. Since that time, Heather has continued to pump her breast milk and send it around the country to infants in need of "the real thing", community members have offered classes in honor of Max for outreach and service, he has inspired art, poetry and abundant creative offerings, and has touched the life of his grandparents deeply.
While Heather and Max and her immediate family and community were in the NICU, many of us held prayer vigils and offered our support from afar to the very challenging and beautiful struggle he had to open his eyes and stay alive. Shortly after Max passed, Heather took a trip to see family, touch in with spiritual mentors and friends and then she met up with Tucson kula for a few weeks of Immersion studies with me, D and the Yoga Oasis gang. So, Heather came home a few days before Kelly and I landed here on the Big Island.
But here is another synchronicity- Heather and I had originally scheduled this weekend for July and we re-scheduled it almost a year ago for this weekend. Who knew then, that my being here would co-incide perfectly with her return to Hawaii after such a monumental experience. I think when we re-scheduled the workshop, we knew Heather was pregnant but that was it. Anyway, co-incidence or synchronicity or just plain luck who knows. The good timing does remind me of a story that Ma Devaki told me when I was visiting Yogi Ramsuratkumar's ashram in 2004. (Ma Devaki was Yogi Ramsuratkumar's attendant for many years and served him directly.Yogi Ramsuratkumar is my guru's guru.)
Anyhow--She was talking about how often she would be worried about something that was happening or stressed about about a complication on the ashram and Yogi Ramsuratkumar would tell her not to worry that he was taking care of everything. She looked at me and said, "And you know what? Every time I would leave the ashram at night it would be in a total drama and every morning I would come back and it would be totally settled. Down to the smallest details of our lives he is arranging things..."
So like that.
So it worked out perfectly- as these things so often do- that I am here this weekend to be part of Heather's re-entry and to be teaching at The Monkey in this time of grief and transition. It wasn't something I talked a lot about teaching this weekend although there was an undercurrent of acknowledgement from everyone there, I think. In so many ways I really see Heather embodying the best of Anusara Yoga philosophy in the midst of this. It is not that she is saying "it's all good" in some light, disembodied, starry-eyed way. it is more the case that she is claiming how painful this circumstance and outcome is and yet even in that fullness of the tragedy her response is an affirmation that there is beauty in heartbreak and a chance to be vulnerable and to offer and serve no matter how torn asunder one feels from what life has brought them. She is showing up in an amazing, authentic and dharmic way.
Lee used to talk about "having a wound that only God can heal" and how spiritual life can be fueled from that kind of conscious suffering. This is not the suffering of our own making that we bring on ourselves through undisciplined actions, deceit and living out of alignment with our own heart. (For instance, think about how many medical situations we "suffer" but could be corrected with better dietary choices and some consistent exercise. Or the anxiety we suffer because we have spoken dishonestly and have to keep track of the lies we have told. We bring that kind of suffering on ourselves and that is the suffering that dharmic choices really can and should end.)
No, he was talking about a deeper kind of suffering that comes from a broken heart and from suffering those wounds that "only God can heal." He said this is what our deepest prayer, as seekers, ought to be- to be given this kind of wound- because this kind of wound will place us at the feet of what matters most and demand that we live in relationship to what can truly heal and restore us. It will cut away the crap, the extraneous, the frivolous, the unnecessary and deliver us instead to the very heart of our Heart.
So that is what's been going on here on The Big Island of hawaii. That and some amazing SCUBA diving, a visit to a volvano and some hikes though the jungle.
For more about Max, his story and the work Heather is continuing in his name, please visit http://highfivemax.blogspot.com/ .