yoga practices start and end in anjali mudra, when you set your intention for your practice and then recall your intention. it’s also a moment of calm to focus on your breath and clear your mind. you sit up tall, legs crossed, hands to heart in a prayer position.
today i was sitting in anjali mudra at the beginning of my practice when lesley (my youtube yoga instructor) told us to create a space in between our hands, a space to represent our hearts. normally eyes are closed at this point, but i opened my eyes and frowned down at my hands, tented out to create a little cupped space with my thumbs touching, and i thought “if i could squeeze my heart into that little space and hold it out of my body, i would feel so much better right now.”
that’s when i started crying on my yoga mat.
but lesley, of course, brought it back to love and to send and receive energy in the world, and so i started my yoga practice with my mind and heart a little clearer.
on friday, liz and i went to the george floyd memorial where he was murdered. it was later in the afternoon, and the sun was bright, temperature in the high 70s.
we actually did talk about a game plan – what would we do if we needed to leave quickly? do we wear long sleeves? pants? do we need signs? (went with shirts instead of signs.) in the end, since we only went to the memorial we decided that we could wear the shorts and sandals that we wanted to. first, we stopped at megan’s to pick up a couple KN95 masks because it is still a pandemic, after all.
so a little over a week after george floyd was murdered, we stopped in front of the location where it happened to experience first hand what we’d only seen in photos.
the memorial itself was powerfully emotional. it was very much like when i stood in the lincoln memorial and read words from the president himself that had been etched into stone. the outpouring of emotion and personal stories behind each part of the memorial, each bouquet of flowers, each hand-written sign, each intricately painted mural – it’s overwhelming.
i think liz was pretty spot on when she said she felt voyeuristic during our perimeter tour of the four blocks total. it was uncomfortable, and i don’t know about liz, but i did feel out of place, if only because i know i live in white central minnesota. a diverse urban area is not something i find myself in often.
overwhelmingly the businesses that were boarded up against riot instigators were pro-protest. it was common to see BLM spray-painted next to the text that said “minority owned.” and the support from the surrounding homes was very positive. i thought it was really interesting to note that none of the homes were boarded up.
couches sat on sidewalks, and older people sat on them, resting their feet. young people danced and stood and yelled george floyd’s name and the continual mantra “no justice, no peace. know justice, know peace.”
a block in each direction from the intersection was filled with pop-up tents with supplies, food, basic needs for community members. anyone was welcome to join in the community of eating – food is the great connector. there were speakers in two areas, and liz and i stopped to listen to a muslim woman with words of steel, then a muslim man sing the call to prayer.
what’s beautiful was seeing the community. the response. the support. the art.
after we left the memorial, we headed to uptown, where more businesses were boarded up. where more artists were creating art and a sense of beauty out of blank slates and darkness. yes, all lives matter. but for so long, not all lives have. and calling attention to the marginalized, the oppressed, the ignored is what we need to start doing. by bringing it to the forefront, we’re uncovering some uncomfortable truths.
i think it’s ok to be uncomfortable though – and needed. because we need to push through this and come out the other side as better people and a better country. it was standing at the place where george floyd was murdered where i made a decision that i had to start engaging more. as an introverted, conflict averse person, that is really difficult for me, but it needs to be done because this burden can’t land on the oppressed – they’ve been trying for years and it hasn’t worked.
and this is not their problem to fix.
i hate having tough convos because it’s HARD and it makes me angry and sad and feel bad because they’re with people i know and love, and i stumble over my spoken words and can’t find the right things to say a lot of the time. but this is important. i listen. i learn. i will try to go slowly. change is not wrought overnight.
i wish i could cup my heart in my hands, hold it outside myself during this time; it would make this so much easier. instead, i do my best to send and receive love in the universe. and really, isn’t that what matters the most?