“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” –Thich Nhat Hanh*
A student commented after a recent class: “You talk to us about how we are sharing energy with our breath. I’ve never really understood what you meant. I think I get it now. I noticed today that the studio feels different after class. Energetically. It feels different. That’s so cool!”
Yep. I agree. A group practice does something to us, individually and collectively. (I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for this, and I’ll leave that explanation to the experts.) I often experience the connections between our physical and subtle bodies, the energy within and around us, and the bonds that energy creates.
Many of us come to our mats to feel more grounded and connect at a deeper level – within ourselves, with others, with the Universe. Many of us come to feel the strength of our bodies and spirits through poses (asana.) While the asana is an important part of yoga, it’s the breath that’s the common thread of our connectedness. We’ve been using a guided meditation in our studio lately which includes visualizing each of our inhales as drawing the energy up from the earth and each exhale as sending it back to the place where that energy will intermingle with that of others. I can feel the exchange of energy in the studio. But, never have I felt that exchange as profoundly as I feel it today.
As I write this, I’m sitting next to my father-in-law, who is not far from taking his last breath. His breathing is labored, yet rhythmic, and much faster than my own breathing. We sit in community, exchanging energy, up to his last minutes. I am surprised at the gifts he is giving me during his final hours. I can feel his remaining energy; I can stay connected with him through his breath. I am aware that, soon, his breath will stop and I will miss him. I am also aware that there are others to pick up where he leaves off. My community, my tribe, whose breath will connect with mine as we continue to lift each other up in our yoga practices and in our lives.
For that I am extremely grateful.
*Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.