This past week, while the news from Nepal (and Baltimore) shook our world and nation, I sat from 9am to 6pm in a five-day training on the Koshas with my yoga teacher Rod Stryker. I was removed from my morning NPR habit, and mostly offline, but whispers and newsfeeds made their way into my awareness. The husband of a participant was Nepali; a yoga teacher in Seattle led the push for studios to quickly respond with benefits classes. Into the suffering the human heart rushed, wanting to help and make a difference.
The Koshas can help us to understand how we individually respond to disaster in our midst or from afar. These five sheaths, or layers, that surround our unchanging essence move from the gross to the subtle, from the physical to the metaphysical. In the middle is our Manomaya Kosha, that which is made of manas, the mind. It is here that all input comes through the senses to the realm of ahamkara (ego, the “I-maker”), chitta (our storehouse of memories and thoughts) and buddhi (discernment and decision-making).
If we, or others, are in danger, this is the part of us that rises to the occasion – our manas is designed to keep us safe. To do so it has five senses. We receive sensory input constantly. Our ahamkara, chitta and buddhi take in that information and act or react based on what we receive and how it’s perceived. We can act from ahamkara—ego/self-preservation, from our storehouse of memories and karmic patterning (chitta), or from our discernment (buddhi).
As we navigate the continuing news of devastation in Nepal and racism in our own country, may we bring awareness to this process in order to act consciously and responsively. We can stop and notice if we have disaster fatigue and how we might nourish ourselves to allow for more space and compassion to unfold. We can make conscious decisions on how we want to help. We can also watch this process unfold in the minds of others and have a more nuanced understanding of why people do what they do.
At 8 Limbs we have decided to provide a week of contributions to the relief effort in Nepal. We hope that you will join us in once again supporting Mercy Corps for their ongoing work in the affected regions. See below for how to get involved. If you’d prefer to support a smaller non-profit based in Washington, we’ve also learned about Wide Open Vistas, on the ground providing support to the children of Nepal. You can support them in your own individual giving.
And this weekend, come learn more about your own ability to cultivate energy and capacity to help yourself and others through the ancient practices of Tantra with Rod Stryker, a teacher I am feeling most grateful for as I return to “real life” with more tools to navigate the ever-turning wheel of karma as it rolls on along. I’ll be there both practicing and assisting and hope you’ll join us Saturday at 10am!
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer
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