Nov 2012

Greetings yoga friends -

I have been plunging up and down an emotional roller coaster these last weeks, 

My daughter is an Americorps volunteer for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Association. Stationed last August in the deep south, months of training had gone by waiting for a hurricane. In the end, it seemed that planting trees was likely to be their most active task, and some of the team had started dropping out. So it was an emotional jolt to get her texts a couple of weeks ago - her team loading into a van, driving north in the middle of the night, camping out in Tennessee as they waited on the edge of the coming super storm Sandy. My daughter - Deployed. Not words I had ever imagined going together.

Emotions of anxiety for her safety tugged against surging pride. She is their PR designee, and I fantasized switching on a news cast to see her exhausted and smiling face grinning back into the camera. The foolishness of parents, firsthand! Followed by mortification as my own celebration for her well-earned experience bumped up against the grim news day after day of human suffering. All tumbling together in a brief update - sleeping on a navy ship off the New Jersey coast, she is working 14 hour days along the ravaged shore communities, cold (her warm clothes in storage in the deep south, inaccessible when they were mobilized), hungry (food rationed for FEMA employees), exhausted - and as motivated as ever.

The whole emotional wave has forced me to revisit my understanding of an oft-stated goal in yoga: non-attachment

Really? Any delusions that yoga or meditation will have distanced me from emotion are being daily blown away by deep sighs and poignant tears. If anything, I now feel more vulnerable, more broken-open - not only to her experience, but that of other parents and spouses whose loved ones are sent into challenging missions. 

So if it isn't about armoring me, protecting me from feeling, what is the role of yoga?

Another teacher's voice comes through my mind -

"Come in to the pose, and notice your response. Don't judge, don't congratulate yourself or bemoan your tight hamstrings, or whatever comes up. Just observe."
Perhaps it is yoga practice itself which has gradually drawn me into such exposed feeling. I realize that my old way of being might have clung to my role as parent, might have acted out my pride in ways that diminished her experience, or thrown my fears into patronizing advice or interference. Instead I am left with the raw experience of witnessing this wondrous person who is my daughter grow and dare and overcome.

Oh, but how much easier it can be in a yoga pose than in the emotional roller coaster of life! 

Is that why we call it yoga practice??? Duhhh, not sure I had ever quite realized that...

Namaste - Eugene