While out on a medicine walk with my canine companion, Güstav and I crossed paths with this beautiful Coyote...
Her behavior struck me; though I have the utmost respect for one of the most adaptable species on our planet, and have always known Coyotes to be curious, inquisitive and fearless, this one seemed to be carrying a very important message with a sense of urgency and deliberation ...
We are nestled between the Angeles and Los Padres National Forest, protected by mountains and desert from the fires that rage around us in every direction. The trails and wild spaces so sacred to us here in our new home are one of the few places of refuge available to the non-domesticated beings who have been displaced by these fires.
I was overwhelmed with the feeling that this precious creature was likely a refugee torn from her home and his pack, seeking shelter, food, water and companionship in frightening times.
My heart aches for all those who have lost their homes, their lives and all that they once knew.
I found my mind wandering through the long history of beings who have been displaced from their homes and eradicated from this region. I felt immense grief for the way the present culture has torn these lands apart, and contributed to a disaster of epidemic proportions. I became wrought with sadness for this Coyote and all those who are not included in the counts of who lost their homes and lives, and entangled in frustration for this current habit of perpetuating the illusion that our human lives are somehow more important, or at all separate from every other life on this planet.
In this train of unpleasant thought, I took a deep, long breath. I allowed myself to embrace these feelings, and then I got curious about what to do with them.
It is in these moments of entanglement that the power of my yoga practice feels the most important and powerful. I have always been a deeply empathetic person, and the World contains a great deal of sadness that weighs heavily on me. I don't think I ever expected yoga, meditation, or any sort of therapeutic practice would make me feel happy all the time; I simply don't believe that is the point of our miraculous lives. We have been conditioned to push away and avoid the experiences and feelings we consider unpleasant, and to cling to those we find pleasant. In truth, even if our species were capable of performing a miracle that could halt and redirect us on our current course toward global catastrophe, the inevitable hardships and heartaches of life would persist. One of the greatest gifts that yoga offers is the ability to look deeply into the unpleasant with honesty and compassion.
As I continued returning to deep, mindful breaths, watching these thoughts come and go, I sat down and looked to the Coyote for peace and understanding. I felt such appreciation for the qualities of cooperation, adaptation and perseverance so intrinsic to her kind.
In these challenging times, the World urges us to listen and to act with compassion. We must learn to come Home -- to ourselves, to our Earth and to Each Other.
As living beings sharing breath and energy and sustenance through ever-changing cirsumstances, we are all forever bound to the pain of flood, fire, sickness, decay and death. We may yet still, however, learn to see fully into the heart of this existence with reverence and a willingness to embrace everything just as it is, accepting our place alongside all our sacred companions experiencing this worldy journey together, returning in gratitude to each precious breath we are blessed to take.
Molly Jo Stanley
Educating for Mindfulness and Sustainability