Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eight Limbs, Ten Principles, One Earthquake

Crooked Island is two hundred miles and worlds away from Haiti. We were in the tsunami warning zone and released from danger before we even knew there had been an earthquake. Now two days later, only one of the several Haitian men who work here as gardeners and handymen has been able to confirm the well-being of his family.

It may be because this tragedy is of such colossal proportions. It may be because it struck relatively close to home. But all day I’ve felt the need to define, or find a way to form, a response.

Here goes:

The tree of yoga has many limbs, eight in fact, as described by Pantanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Most of us Westerners stay perched on the asana (postures) branch, from time to time glancing up through the leaves at pranayama (breath practice that enhances the flow of life force), and dharana (developing inner awareness).

But it’s the first limb, the yamas, I’m reaching out to today. Yamas have to do with how we use our energy in relationship to ourselves and to others. Ahimsa, the first of ten yamas, or living principles, directs us toward of a life of compassion for all living things.

Compassion. Energy. Most of us can’t be onsite in Haiti to help, to heal, to rebuild. But we can dedicate our practices and send our compassionate energy to the earthquake victims.

Even worlds away, intention makes a difference.

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