Last week while teaching class on lovingkindness we heard the chickens in the backyard getting louder and louder. When I finally looked out the window I saw a raccoon eating one of the chickens. I yelled and ran out of the room as the students were lying in legs up the wall.
We had spent some time at the beginning of class talking about our feelings about Orlando, and I was teaching to calm the nervous system. We were focusing on breathing in, “May I be well.” Breathing out, “May you be well.”
When I got back inside after corralling the other chickens to safety in their coop I still was holding space for students, but I was obviously rattled. Someone asked if there was anything they could do. I was grateful for the gesture, and I said I would take care of myself at 7:45, when class finished.
When we got to meditation I was able to spend a little time crying, which felt vulnerable and honest. I felt the need to apologize, even though I did not cause what happened. I tried my best to finish leading the movement portion of class, but I was distracted and worried. I was worried about the chickens. I was worried about the students. I was worried about myself. I chanted through tears at the end of class.
As I reflect on this challenge I am grateful for many things. I am grateful for the part of myself that can compartmentalize emotions and experiences so I can stay somewhat present. I am grateful for the incredible students who show up with honesty, resiliency, care and compassion. I am grateful for my anger that can motivate me to move forward and act. I am grateful for my nervous system that can make my muscles act quickly and my fight and flight response that can be put to good use. I appreciate my vulnerability and ability to show my softness and strength. I am grateful for my meditation practice which allows me to feel all my feelings with compassion and empathy.
Trauma is usually unexpected and not a welcomed experience, and it happens to all of us at some point and on some level. Our yoga practice of awareness, compassion and being with what is can help us navigate the traumas that we meet in our lives.
I wish this experience did not happen. I wish the students did not have to witness it. But the experience did happen, and students did witness it. The more I can accept that reality the more I can hold myself and the vulnerability, grief, anger, fear, worry and gratitude that are also realities.
With love and compassion,