Day 23 of Home, a 30-day yoga journey with Adriene. The theme for today is focus. We return to rest after a challenging pose that has stretched us. Adriene asks, “Where in your body is your attention drawn? Focus on it. Energy will automatically flow there.”
Once again, Adriene goes on to relate this to our lives. “What are you focussing on today? Where do you want your energy to go? Where attention goes, energy flows.”
I think about the day ahead and watch it unfold as if I’m standing at a railway crossing. I watch one moment after another come into view and pass by coupled to the next and the next and the next. I don’t see the conductor, and after a while, I don’t see the cars–just a blur of rusty red and green and words that mean little to me.
I watch as if I have little power, few choices. Things have to be done, so I get to it.
But right now, I have a spacious moment. No train. No noise. Nothing urgent pulling at my pant leg. What do I want to focus on today?
Presence. God’s presence. I want to open to God, in this moment and the next.
As I name that intention, I realize I don’t want to just focus on God being present to me, but God present in others. In the Radical Compassion Challenge, Tara Brach says that we see some people as real–those who are dear to us–and others as unreal, stick figures. We don’t really see these people. They fulfil a function but don’t really exist for us–the woman who doesn’t speak English, the man who delivers our mail, the child making a fuss in the grocery store. Tara invited us to awaken and see them as real people.
Today I want to notice who is not real to me, who is a nameless car on the train of life. I want to see them, give them attention, and let my energy flow to them–even if it is just for a second. In that second, I have the power to make them real.
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
—Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
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Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ” The challenge for Day 8 in the Radical Compassion Challenge was to wake up from bias by talking to a person who identifies differently than you do. We have no idea what it’s like to be them unless they tell us. If we offer open-hearted interest, perhaps we will get a window into their world and their heart . . . and ultimately into ours.