This week I have the honour of teaching 2 classes at the Palais des Congrès (Montreal’s main convention centre) for federal workers in the public sector from across Canada who are coming to our unusually temperate city (for this time of the year). Getting everyone off to the best start possible as they trek through the 2-day convention is already something to look forward to, but what I’m really excited about is the theme of the event, which is connecting to community, something absolutely essential for these federal employees who deal with the public day in and day out.
The keynote speaker for this event is slated to be Dr. Samantha Nutt, the founder and executive director of War Child, an incredible organization that is dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to children in war-torn areas of the globe, and in doing so, providing the catalyst to allow people from all corners of the world to connect with each other towards this common, collaborative goal. Connecting to communities whose values and traditions differ from ours, extending a helping hand to those we’ve never met but with whom we are connected by the threads of humanity that bind us together, all by-products of the main mission to help children who find themselves surrounded by the tears or rips in humanity that war inevitably results in. A keynote speaker who bridges the distances and the differences between us and our fellow men, inspiring a group of people who are the face of our government for each and every person they interact with in the public sector. Inspiring them to connect with the communities they work in, to be so much more than the person behind the partition, on the other end of the telephone, or at the other end of the web-chat.
Connection is also an essential facet of yoga…connection to one’s self, connection to the teacher, and connection to the other practitioners with whom we are blessed to share the practice space and our energies. Without the ability to draw our attention inside through to the subtlest layers of consciousness, our ability to connect with others becomes jeopardized. That connection to the source provides the blueprint conducive to reaching out and sharing our realities with others, and being open and compassionate enough to incorporate what others are living into our realm of existence. Establishing those channels, allowing for the vital exchange of information and events, is what brings us together and reminds us that the connection we share is always present, but occasionally makes itself more apparent based on the events that shape our lives.
Whenever something happens on a global scale, we feel that connection without having to search for it. The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile are perfect examples of this. Princess Diana’s shocking death, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the 2004 tsunami in Asia…all the events that feel like tears or rips in the fabric of humanity, the vibration of our world changing in a heartbeat. Not all events, however, need to be traumatic to mark their passing on our collective journey…and despite my willingness to admit that sports are about as attractive to me as eating a bowl full of insects, I have to admit that watching the last 30 minutes of the Canada-U.S.A Olympic hockey match was a lesson in the unification of mankind for me. Initially drawn into the game by the insane media coverage, I was hooked within the first 10 seconds…I was logged onto Facebook, watching as update after update from the majority of my friends from all over the world scrolled down the index page…everyone cheering for Canada, the tension palpable, knowing everyone was on the edge of their seats (myself included, much to my surprise). The winning goal in overtime is what did it for me. Seeing the exact same exclamations of pride and congratulations exploding on the screen in front of me as horns started blaring outside in the streets, the overwhelming outpouring of love and unity, all of it left its mark on me, making me feel like I was plugged into the electrical current that was flowing straight across Canada and spilling over all around the globe. Any differences we may have had hours earlier before the game fell by the wayside as we all came together and celebrated, and it imprinted itself into my memory much in the same way the aforementioned events did. Growing up, I was surrounded by the adults in my life who remembered exactly where they were when JFK was assassinated, when Marilyn Monroe was found dead, when RFK was assassinated…and as I get older, I realize that the deaths of Diana, Michael Jackson, the horror of 9/11, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and countless other events that have changed the face of the world during my formative years have provided similar moments where time seems to have stopped for a millisecond, where the fabric of humanity is forever altered. The game tonight fell into that category, and the best part of the whole event is that there was no call for a collective outpouring of grief for a fallen icon, no wailing to the heavens for lives lost or communities shattered. Tonight’s game united more people than I could ever have imagined, and the beauty of that left me speechless (until I started typing, obviously!).
What I want to covey to everyone reading this is that the coming together that was demonstrated earlier tonight is something that needs not be relegated to the triumph of a sporting event or the tragedy of a natural disaster and the chaos that inevitably ensues. That connection exists 24/7…whether we choose to tap into it and to remind each other of its existence is up to us. Every second of every day holds the opportunity to do this, and every yoga class that we share is a reminder that we’re all in this together…uniting our breath and our intentions, consciously affiliating ourselves with each other…playing for the same team, an ever-growing swarm of awakened souls moving in the same direction, closer towards truth, light and love. We have the choice to live in the reality we want to see around us, it’s all a matter of flicking the proverbial switch we all have access to. This is the message I will bring to my classes at the convention centre this week…that connecting with each other is easier than we think, that it’s all a matter of intention and understanding that the current of connectivity is always flowing, that we have to visualize it as being something we just need to plug ourselves into. And like electricity itself, plugging in is all that’s needed…the results will be immediate and powerful, something we could easily get used to and have trouble living without…how nice would that be?
Something that has been coming up for me throughout the Olympics as well.
Connectedness, how it is the essence of us as humans, as balls of light, as members of Team Earth, as animals and as simple beings. Yet, our minds sometimes keep us locked in the setting ‘me’ and ‘mine’ and ‘us’ and ‘them’.
I saw some of the most beautiful smiles I have seen in a long time yesterday, heard some of the loudest and genuine cheers and received the most joyful hugs that I have in a very long time.
The best part was that I was with no one who was Canadian. The Brits, Irish, and Scots (who have their own deep-set rivalry) were together cheering another country just to be able to share those moments with each other.
Thanks for your post, Bram. It seems as though this is on a lot of people’s minds…