We have created circles around chasing gratification. When we begin to leave the chase we have to find new circles. These circles support us as we examine the suffering the chase causes. These circles support us as we discover a new purpose. The Buddhists describe this as finding refuge. We find refuge from our old belief system. We find refuge from a world that does not understand the change in our life. We find a refuge for this new way of seeing. We find a refuge for this new purpose. Together we create sacred ground. This ground will be beneath our feet, it’s dust a gentle presence, we will be breathing in it’s scent as we take our first steps on the path to freedom.
-Rolf Gates, excerpt from a new book on addiction recovery and yoga, retrieved from FB 7/28/2017
Day 248 – My July has been filled with wondrous adventures and unexpected stresses from lack of normalcy and routine to food dilemmas, which have taken a toll on my body. As usual, I injured my shoulder inadvertently on the mountain hike in the rain (when I slipped) and have been receiving care from my chiropractor, modifying exercise, and not practicing yoga at all. Today, is the first day I am not working and not feeling poorly; my body has been reeling from the cruise food. Refuge is today’s theme, and as such, the reading in Meditations from the Mat supports the quote above serendipitously well.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to share my “union” story with my brother and sister AR’s at the shop steward training. The buzz words are “collective,” “sister- and brotherhood,” and “community” here. I couldn’t help but think of CrossFit and Florida Tribal Dance. What makes these places so incredibly special: leadership, community, and love. These are places of refuge when we are suffering.
For me, my 40’s has been a journey of learning and unlearning and relearning. Similarly, Rolf writes: “I am someone who has had to work at life. Somewhere along the way, I picked up a set of rules for myself that put me in conflict with the world. I have had to unlearn those rules, and to painstakingly learn and apply a new set of rules.” However, as the opening quote of Day 248 (from/by John Gardner) points out, “we must strive to reach that simplicity that lies beyond the sophistication.”
As I spoke to my fellow AR’s about how CrossFit Milk District brings out the very best in a diverse group of people coming together at various abilities and levels of fitness and circumstance, I realized how important creating a place of refuge is for people, and how the people who create, cultivate, and sustain these places do so in the midst of a complex day-to-day life. Rolf aptly describes these people in today’s read, writing: “They smile readily and have a genuine concern for the people around them. For them life is quite simple, for if you come from a place of love, the world around you will respond with love.”
While I’m not suggesting in any way that people must find their refuge in unionism/activism, CrossfFit, yoga, or religion, what I am suggesting is that finding a community which supports us and is our refuge through our times of suffering and self-discovery (the learning, unlearning, and relearning) is essential to our well-being. Moreover, I can say through this reflection today I have discovered my currency is love and I feel best around others who share that value (whether they know it or not — feel free to substitute whatever buzzword needs to be inserted for currency and value). Love literally brings tears to my eyes when I think of all the people I love and who love me back in my family, community, and life. I am truly blessed. I don’t think it such a bad thing to want to create, cultivate, and sustain a community based on love for my school. We need refuge from our complex and sophisticated political, pedagogical, and bureaucratic culture.