Leaning into We


besties I was part of a celebration for Martin Luther King last month and his beautiful words are still resonating within me. He was a brilliant man, ahead of his time, who has left us a road map to follow that helps us connect to one another. Essentially, he said there is no me without you. We would all benefit from leaning into we and us, instead of me and I. In my mind, this sounds a lot like yoga philosophy! The word yoga means “union”, which first begins with me, then quickly becomes us, because a peaceful feeling is easy to share. I feel this every time I teach yoga at Wellness Within. Each person who comes in seeking peace, health, and stillness benefits everyone around them.  I get to see the me turn into we right before my eyes. I then see these peaceful people flow out into the evening light, taking this peace home with them. It’s like ripples on a pond.

By contrast, feelings of pain and suffering are harder to share for most of us. We do get caught up in our story and with the sometimes terrible side effects of cancer treatment, which can feel so isolating. That certainly has its place. We might feel betrayed by our bodies, which can cause great suffering in our minds and emotions.  When the time of healing arises, though, it’s good to have a place to go and share in a completely different way. Where else can you focus on the simple act of breathing, far away from hospitals and treatment rooms? How wonderful is it to rest on the floor with your legs up the wall and dream in a private moment? How sweet it is to look around after a good session and see the soft smiles of the people around you. What a relief to not be someone with cancer, fully being the someone you’ve always known, even for a little while. This union of self; finding your thoughts, your feelings, your body, your breath and your spirit all together in one place at one time, is deeply healing. We practice together in yoga, then we go home and keep on practicing. When we have that next appointment, we breathe. When we don’t understand, we become calm and ask for the explanation we need. When we need some perspective we open our eyes to the larger picture and move smoothly into that. When we need to release our grief the tears can flow through us. We can also think of those around us and remember that we aren’t alone. Even though we may not even know who  “I” am anymore, we can become a part of a new “us”, the group of people on a cancer journey. Yoga helps us to integrate this new experience, so that we have time to catch up with who we are and where we are.

As Martin Luther King said, “Whatever affects one directly affects all, indirectly.” We can be there for ourselves and for one another as we learn to communicate our compassion, regularly.

Blog, Mind-Body, YogaSusan Whitaker