As the summer arrived and I was able to reduce my teaching schedule, I observed how my conditioning to being busy slowly unraveled and left me more space for breathing into spaciousness without always directly filling each moment with the next thing to do. At first I was somehow more restless, with an “overfilled” mind, and then slowly as I let go the need to resist this restlessness, I started to realize once again how extremely valuable these extended moments of spaciousness are. Not only for my own personal reflection and development, but also for observing what can then be allowed to come into my life to re-inspire me. I gave more time for spaciousness in my physical body and then the mind slowly quietened.
One of the BIG questions that came into my thoughts was: Why is it that we are mostly so consumed by our problems, and somehow repeat these old thought patterns connected to the problems again and again and again? Why is it that when our lives are full we generally become more consumed by the problems closest to our hearts and cannot step back long enough to get a clearer view? We then get stuck on this logic left brain level of observation of a situation, without being able to shift to a deeper more limbic brain understanding.This often results in blame, judgment and ill feeling, especially in relationships, whether it be to ourselves and/or others. When these negative thought and behaviour patterns repeat themselves in us, we start to feel worse about ourselves - they seem to “breed” negativity in us.
During the summer, I was fortunate enough to land in a remarkable encounter with some very profound teachers of life-wisdom.... My best friend, Sylvie, is working in the field of human rights and anti-trafficking in Belgium, for a Foundation called Samilia. She recently invited a group of young women from Mumbai in India to the World Anti-trafficking day which was held in Brussels on 30th July, hosted by Samilia and the UNODC. These young women all live together like a family, and are survivors of trafficking and prostitution, many coming from families of sex trafficking. They are guided and supported by a few truly amazing women who dedicate their lives to empowering them for a richer life, so they can get educated and go out into the world and find their own purpose (www.kranti-india.org)
What is most impressive is HOW they do this....let me share how my adventure with them unfolded.
They were a party of 19 people: 14 young girls, 3 adult women who live with them, 1 remarkable women who teaches them yoga, meditation and theatre, and 1 committed friend who is an actor and has decided to create a documentary of their journey. They have been traveling for a few months in Europe now, performing a theatre piece that they created themselves to tell their story and bring awareness, as well as spending one month walking the Camino Santiago de Compastella.
Sylvie hosted them for three days in her house (yes we all fitted!! I felt like I was back at boarding school!). This was one of the most touching experiences of my life to date. Why? Because these young women have lived lives which most of us would rather not think about or wish to imagine, so traumatic are their stories. The drama, however, is not what is impressive, it’s the way they have used trauma to become empowered through their life stories and, through enormous courage and love, move forward with their lives with a sense of incredible purpose. All this is encompassed in so much love, incredible humour, presence and lightness. They have learnt to recognize and embrace their stories, and seem fearless as they now move through life with purpose and this sense of unconditional Presence.
The average age is 18. When I reflect on when I was 18, I know I was so so far from this kind of wisdom. I don’t judge myself for this, but feel grateful and encouraged to know it is never too late to learn Loving Presence, and what is possible to bring to our children, to aid them to be empowered and find purpose, through Presence, as early as possible in their lives.
The Kranti young women are “home schooled”. Robin, who is one of the founders and “mums”, created an educational system that felt true to giving these girls the best tools to heal and move forward with their lives. Their schooling system focuses on 5C’s: communication, creative thinking, critical analysis, community leadership, and compassion.
Everyday they start their day with yoga and meditation. Everyday. And why? Because it is essential to ground and balance them, give them focus, strength, clarity and calmness. And of course it helps to release old patterns from the body. I was privileged to be able to share my yoga experiences with them one morning, as well as to experience their amazing teacher, Jaya, one morning. They get to the mat, no matter what. The difference is, they have a purpose, and this purpose brings them to the mat with a kind, loving encouraging, non-aggressive forcing. Yes, they are still teenagers or young women who like to sleep, moan to get up, look exhausted and need coffee. This does not stop them. They know the effect of the practice.
They also practice, on a daily basis: journaling, writing gratitude letters, logic puzzles, creative thinking games, and team building exercises. After one year of studying at Kranti School, the students begin leading workshops, delivering speeches, volunteering at NGO’s, and implementing community projects. They are encouraged to move back into the world and share what they are learning.
They presented a remarkable theatre piece to a large audience in Brussels, telling their story like a train journey, Lal Batti Express. What was humbling was to witness the remarkable honest maturity with which they were able to present their story, as well as with the joy, fun and ease of teenagers.
What to extract from this experience....why do we delay in working through our challenges and traumas? Can we find the courage to face our dark side(s) with love, kindness, and commitment, and strive to be happy by freeing ourselves and committing to serve those who need support?
How? Commit to our yoga and meditation practice of course! Help others, in whatever way feels right for you.
If you cannot find a rhythm, commit to the regular yoga practice and join the online platform. One of the main reasons I created my online platform was for this purpose. If you feel you don’t know how to go forward with this challenge of regular practice, and you need support to find a clear direction, contact me. Together we can find a practice routine that suits you. Remember that the most effective tools you already have inside of you...your body, your breath, your will to commit, and a huge open heart.
More about Kranti: www.kranti-india.org