There is so much tragedy in this world. The sad truth is we are not guaranteed tomorrow. However, it is important to step out of fear and darkness and live the life we love each and every day. Go after your dreams, tell the people you love that you appreciate them, and say the things that matter. Horrific incidents, such as the massacre in Las Vegas are reminders to Live the Life we Love EVERYDAY. We have to try to find something positive in everything bad or we run the risk of feeling helpless and depressed. As we send healing prayers and hold the families who are grieving today and in the coming days, weeks and months in our hearts, it is important to use this time to rise up and come together as a community.
Terrible events like this mass shooting, as well as any obstacle I come across in my personal life, remind me to return back to my personal Yoga Philosophy. There are three main principles that I live and breathe by that have helped me get through countless difficult times including; my physical and verbal abuse, recovering from PTSD, counseling and supporting others, helping my parents go through physical set backs, nurturing my own children and the ups and downs of my daily life. The following three principles when followed will truly lead you to a better place; one of growth, lightness, clarity, strength, compassion, and most importantly a place of universal oneness.
- Awareness - It begins with the physical practice on the mat and carries into daily life. Be aware of your words, actions and feelings. Then be aware of those around you.
- Acceptance - Accept yourself exactly where you are in each moment. You do not have to be perfect, you just have to show up and try your best. Strive for progress. And then accept those around you where they are, as well. Let go of expectations.
- Forgivenesses - Forgive yourself for any mistakes you make along the way. Consider those mistakes a way to learn and grow. Forgive those around you. Holding grudges and shaming people causes resentment and negativity.
Above all practice self love. First Love Yourself (F.L.Y.) then love all others. Once we realize we are all in this together, the feelings of separation, anxiety, hatred and violence vanish and unity takes their place. Once we get to this place of ONENESS, life is beautiful.
Of course, in times of mass shootings the subject of mental illness arises as we search for a reason for how and why a human being could take so many innocent lives. And then, of course, there are issues of gun control that feed our fears and cause more division among us. The truth is we will never have all the answers, but let's avoid circular arguments that make us feel self righteous and realize that such acts of hate most often, at their roots, result from an absence of love and other stigmas that make a person feel an overwhelming sense of darkness.
When someone in our family suffers from cancer or another disease, we wrap our arms around them, bring them meals and nurture them with tender loving care. But when someone we know is diagnosed with a serious Mental Illness, our discomfort and shame often hold us back from helping and comforting them because of the negative stigma associated with a serious mental health issue. That person then isolates and disconnects from society. When they withdraw, their perception of reality becomes even more distorted. These stigmas around mental health issues create even more damage in the long run and contribute to the downward spiral of the person who needs love, support and treatment from mental health providers. Mental health is not a topic that we can afford to sweep under the rug and out of sight. It should be talked about and treated like any disease.
In my research I discovered some startling statistics that I would like to share with you about mental health. 1 in 5 American adults have a mental health condition - thats over 40 MILLION Americans. Mental Health problems among our youth are also on the rise. In 2011 8.5% were depressed and in 2014 that number rose to 11.1%. What is even more startling is that 80% of those youth were either insufficiently treated or not treated at all. Compound this with the media’s negative attention on horrific situations such as these mass killings, and the people who need help tend to shy away and hide rather than coming into the light to seek help.
It is not wrong to view mental illness as a disease, but to assume it is hopeless and to associate it with shame only worsens the situation. The last thing we want to do is make the person feel so desperate and void of love, connection, emotion and empathy that they become compelled to murder. Also, people who play video games while isolated, often disassociate the feelings of human connection with real life people. This process of desensitization can carry over to real life violence when one’s sense of reality becomes completely blurred.
Ultimately we need to turn these tragic events into a time to reflect on love. It is a reminder that what the world needs now more than ever is Love Sweet Love. What we ALL need is love sweet love. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the negative energy of this sad occasion. Instead hold the lives of the people lost up with the honor that they deserve. They were special people. They each had a story. They each had a dream. Unfortunately, for reasons that we will never understand, their lives ended too soon and abruptly. May peace be with their families and friends.
There are many things in life we cannot understand. It is important, however, that we simply keep going. Pray and believe that better days are coming. Continue to give love. Understand that it is ok to feel every emotion and it is also ok to not know and not to understand why this happened.
Fall reminds us that life is ever changing. Take a moment this season to reflect on what really matters to you. Use this time to set your intention for how you can become the best version of yourself. Live the life you love TODAY, tell the people you love that you love them! Just as the trees shed their leaves, think about a few things you might need to let go of in order to make room for improvements in your life. You were created to be a joyful and successful being. Connect with friends and family. Avoid isolation and reach for the stars! If you feel that you might suffer from a mental illness, do not feel alone for there is hope and help for you.
Remember that light always overcomes darkness, just as love overcomes evil. When we love ourselves we are able to love others. So I ask you especially in these times of darkness to dig deep, plant your roots of compassion and shine your love light. Show the world that peace and love will conquer evil and that love is really all that we need.
Love and Light,
P.S. ~ If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts or PTSD, there are people who can help you. Witnessing a horrible event like the concert shooting in Las Vegas can trigger symptoms for months to come. If you were at this concert or have friends and family who were there, please practice awareness, acceptance and forgiveness. Be gentle and loving with yourselves. I am sending you healing vibes and much love.