Take a deep breath the teacher encourages, guiding the student to explore their capacity for a felt experience with their body’s divine tool of respiration. How quickly our understanding of this process of inhale and exhale has changed, how desperate is the cry of the planet to realize that our hate, greed, and ignorance is destroying this most beautiful wold. In the past few months we have globally experienced how corona virus impacts our individual respiratory functionality. This past week we have born witness to a new cry, “I can’t breathe!” — a horrifying statement that tragically highlights the way violence and racism has strangled and lynched people of color in the United States for centuries. As I practiced and taught today I was awoken to the trauma of the breath.
Generally, I revel in each inhale and exhale, and cue my students with specific feeling cues around the felt experience of the breath. Today I felt the poignancy, the emergency, the call to action of this cue. With each cue to inhale and exhale, I felt a constriction around my throat, recalling the vicious and heartless murder of George Floyd by four officers in the Minneapolis Police Department. With each felt experience of the breath, I too felt the trauma of not being able to take one. Sometimes the cueing needs to change. This too is a lesson of this time.
As a way to understand this trauma and support my sangha, I lean into embodied ethics as a form of and call to social action. This is the tool that I have right now, in this moment. By calling on the ancient sage’s understanding of relationship to self and the world, perhaps we can utilize these tools to support shining the light of awakening in a world that needs it so much.
The Buddha touched the earth in the lifetime in which he awakened. The time is now to touch the earth, feel our throats, and move, both within the body and externally in our worlds, to a greater understanding of hate, greed, and ignorance. From this place of understanding may we realign ourselves with compassion, generosity, balance, and kindness. May we do this again and again, as long as we need to do, and with great effort and discipline.
Below is an audio excerpt from today’s teaching — in it I explore karma as an ongoing process of cause & effect, the call of bodhicitta — a mind that strives toward awakening, empathy, and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings and the path of a bodhisattva — someone committed to understanding and ending pain and suffering withing themselves and the world, and the interdependence between ahimsa — understood and felt in my teachings as non-violence, protection, care, & refuge — embodied in Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling and Rosa Park’s refusal to move — and satya — understood and felt in my teachings as honesty and truth — embodied as George’s final call, and a vow to not be silent at this time.
I offer these teachings to you with deep reverence for Mr. Floyd’s memory, and dedicate the benefit of these practices to his memory, to his family, and to all beings who are suffering.