After the recent events in Brussels & Istanbul we thought it was time to finally share this unpublished blog, written by ieva WildLoveBeamer about her experience leading a yoga teacher training during the November 2015 Paris attacks:
9 Healing Human Superpowers
Witnessing how a number of people on social media dealt with the recent events in Paris by judging, pointing out more tragic events, and simply going with the crowd and propagating the simplistic solutions, reductionist, and often racist slogans, I felt compelled to share my experience of being in Paris during these tragic events.
I had an opportunity to witness how some yoginis (and a yogi) of Paris were dealing with this challenging situation. Exactly that weekend, when the terrorist attacks happened, I was running a 3-day Rainbow Kids Yoga teacher training in the city. Being there, holding space with my open heart, I observed a few healing superpowers that we have as human beings and which seemed to be so important to choose to lean on during the traumatic events happening in Paris at that time.
I hadn’t witnessed the terror attacks first hand. After the first day of our training, my intuition led me to stay in the apartment. I just got the news in the morning. Shocked and without knowing what to expect I came to the studio. All these questions were going through my head: ‘Will my students come for the training?’ ‘How will they deal with the present trauma?’
I was ready to hold space for anything our circle needed; even if it needed absence; even if the students decide to not to arrive at the training. To my surprise, one by one, most of the students slowly gathered for their second day of their yoga training. Two chose not to return and I also learnt that friends of one of those present died in one of the attacks.
I learnt that if more of us harness the following 9 superpowers it has the potential to heal not only our individual selves but also has the capacity to inspire every single one of us that we have power of changing the world, and to act positively, rather than giving in to propagating negative prejudices.
Who told us that life is going to be easy? There are always forces beyond our control. However, an egocentric view would love to control everything and runs under the illusion of expectations and assumptions of how the world ‘is supposed to be’. I witnessed true strength in my students’ eyes. They taught me to not give in to fear, celebrate what we have and lean into our strength during the inhuman events that are changing the world. But people like them and us are affecting an even bigger change. We educate the next generation by example of being courageous to live our truths and not to dwell on illusive assumptions of how the world is.
2. Freedom of choice
Being reactive doesn’t help either, nor giving into fear or responding with adopting hard, aggressive attitudes. We don’t have choice or control on how external forces affect us, but before we respond to any situation there is a gap. In the morning after the attacks, we joined with students in compassion meditation, allowing ourselves time to meditate, and observe this silence, this gap. During this gap an awareness of choice is born; choice of our attitude in any given circumstance. As we grow in this awareness of choice we experience the most freedom. Freedom empowers us, makes us strong and our core untouchable. That morning, at our Kids Yoga training in Paris we consciously chose to not give in to fear. We chose to celebrate what we have.
When we are challenged by a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. It struck me how responsible the Rainbow Kids Yoga students in Paris felt; responsible towards next generation and towards human being in general. Integrity and congruence in ones actions seems to be the most important thing in the challenging situations. Sentences like ‘we need to fight fear and hurt with love’, ‘we can do it’ and ‘love is stronger’ will stay with me for all my life.
As I was watching my students pray for a better world through play, I deeply felt how fragile life is. As I was witnessing how a challenging experience made them stronger and not harder, I came to appreciate more and more the lesson of holding space for this healing experience through play. I reiterated my vow to live life to the full, share what is important in life and not waste the precious gift of life that I have. Gratitude and appreciation make us feel that everything is possible.
As Viktor E. Frankl once wrote: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” Suffering seems to cease to be suffering once we find meaning in this suffering. What is your meaning? Life’s situations are reiterating this question over and over again. Last weekend, at the training in Paris, we seemed to find our meaning; to be better parents, sisters, brothers, friends and teachers. As we felt the innocence and untouchable truth of our meanings, we stopped suffering. We felt blessed.
6. Power of the circle
‘The strength of our circle multiplied tenfold our strengths, love and energies.– That’s what one student reflected after the training.
Life consists of circles and cycles: circles of friends’, family circles, emotional cycles and cycles of nature. At some time in our lives, usually at our most ecstatic and most tragic points, we become aware of these circles and cycles more strongly than ever, as if the moment stops and we connect. We connect to our deepest selves and to others. We formed a circle at our training which enabled us to witness each other’s pain, to realize that together we are strong and that during these circles we are able to lift each other up.
There is a proverb: ‘The psyche heals with play, the mind heals with laughter and the spirit heals with joy‘. It is true even if we don’t feel like celebrating what we have. The ‘Eye for an eye’ attitude never really helped. If we choose to respond to aggression with aggression, in the end we hurt ourselves and the next generation to whom we are the ‘way show-ers’, showing the way of this world. My teachers in Paris, who happened to be my students, taught me, we can really heal the world with the love, connecting and playing.
8. Physical & Eye contact
Physical touch and eye gazing will tell us more than a thousand words. During the training we focus on ways of using yoga to connect people. After all, we believe that connection, a sense of belonging and healthy, supportive communities are what we need most in the modern world that we live in. Hence, in Paris, we taught tons of Partner Yoga, Human Mandala (yoga connected in a circle), eye gazing, cooperative games and hugs. When sharing loving touch and looking deeply into each other’s eyes students cried and laughed. This enabled us to process and integrate our experiences, and to form friendships for life.
As Kids Yoga teachers, this group were specifically learning ways of how to bring the best out of children using yoga: poses, breathing, meditation exercises and yoga-attitude. We also applied it to each other, stronger than ever, as we supported each other’s best responses to a challenging situation. We experienced deeply, that when we love a person we see all their beauty, and entire potential of self. We witness what they can become, with even them not being aware of this. Slowly through our loving presence they become more able to manifest more and more of their potential. Just a little bit of love is enough for a person to grow in the direction of more light and more love. Love sometimes hurts. However, love is untouchable. Love is what we aspire to be, for the better versions of ourselves and the better version of the world.
Although they are superpowers, they are attained in a very simple way, by being there for each other. When we form these circles of support, we are able to exercise our personal dedication to a cause greater than ourselves. A cause of holding a vision of each other, for each other and of the world that is healing. I deeply felt that our small training in Paris is making a difference, and the world definitely needs more of this. Spaces where we can re-experience that love, joy, touch and connection are powerful ways to make this world a better place.