This strikes me as important. Why this? Why now? Aren't there issues closer to home I should be worrying about? Or have I woken to the fact that oppression and mindless exploitation affects me too?
People have ups and downs. My ancestors had ups and downs. None of my grand-parents knew their grand-parents so I don't really know. But I'm pretty sure they had ups and downs. Today me and my sister and most of our cousins are OK (I think). They all have homes. I don't know what's going in those homes. I suspect they have ups and downs too.
One thing I do know is that I definitely have downs. Mine take the form of great discomfort, escapism, eating mindlessly, inexplicable domestic behaviors like becoming anxious fulfilling simple tasks. I can't cook for myself, I spend to much money on sandwiches and soups at cafés. I wait until last minute to do my laundry. Funny not funny stuff. I can't complain, they have pills for that, I could just take them, right?
I'm just one example of a sufferer. We're all in the same boat. Bear with me and I will tell you about the connection I feel between my situation in Montreal and the situation of the Sioux in North Dakota.
Let's start here. What is happening to me and to my fellow privileged sufferers? As I said, it can be discomfort, eating disorders and anxiety. It can also be alcoholism and its consequences: broken bodies and homes.
It can take the form of funny sexual behaviors and the consequential markets: developers developing dating apps, kinky authors selling kinky books, designers designing funny sex toys.
It can also take the form of not funny sexual behaviors and their results: micro and macro agressions and other cultural traits that infiltrate our subconscious and become acceptable.
It can take the form of any type of consumerism be it relationships or material. Suffering can lead to excessive desire for self-improvement or self-destruction. It can lead to spiritual or financial inflation or deflation. It leads to wars, and to suicide. How can we recognize suffering and deal with it before it gets out of hands?
LOOKING INTO IT
I don't know my ancestors. All I know is that they were sufferers like every human. My mom's dad and my dad's mom grew up very poor. They both married into more confortable families. I'm the product of two couples with mixed feelings about home and security.
I also know that my mom's parents fell in love as co-workers at Plant Bouchard, a bomb factory near Montreal that operated only during WW2. My grand-dad was making wooden barrels to store gun powder and my grandma was assembling the bombs.
I only started wondering about my parents and their parents when I was in my 30s. Somehow these conversations never happened before. My parents and their parents always claimed they didn't know their ancestry. I always wondered why. This disinterest in ancestry is as hereditary as any other piece of karma. I know I'm breaking something by getting interested in it.
After 12 years of yoga, 6 years of meditation and 5 years of somatic education, I'm starting to feel the influence of the ancestral web of bliss and suffering that lead to my birth. The current difficulty I have to make a home for myself isn't entirely my fault. The discomfort, the anxiety, the irrational relationship to being home isn't something I brought on myself out of laziness or bad intentions.
Without realizing it, through yoga I took the path of excavating my ancestry. I started unpacking the relics from my body and my psyche, and reading the grooves in which my history is encrypted. I'm interested in the mystery, and to be honest I need to put my attention there in order to survive because when I look away I can't escape it. It's actually quite appeasing to accept this.
I'm doing this on my own but this work keeps revealing to me how not alone I am. How connected we all are. How, in fact, it's thanks to many teacher, collaborators, friends, and less obvious entities that have been present in my life that I'm doing what I'm doing.
More and more people around the world are doing the work. In some places the crises are too acute for any kind of healing. But work is possible most of the time, in most places, by most people.
If you've been hesitating to take action, to participate to a protest, to make a piece of art about something you know needs a voice, don't hesitate, go for it. If action isn't on your radar, pray. If prayer isn't something you do, meditate. If meditation isn't your thing but you still feel there is something you could do to help yourself or another, do it. Or do nothing. Use the next opportunity to consume less, to pollute less, to avoid exacerbating some suffering you know is going on.
I don't think I will attend a protest for the situation in North Dakota but I will pray. I will also meditate upon it.
Here is a 30 minutes meditation that speaks to our current situation. The fluids in mother earth, water and oil, and the life of these fluids within our bodies, our water and our fat tissues. We can very concretely feel this in our bodies if we simply calm down and breathe for a moment: