We all have wounds; they’re part of what it means to be human. Whether physical, psychological, or spiritual, our wounds are like crazy glue; they bond us in solidarity. If we lived in an indigenous society, our wounds would be seen as shamanic rites of passage, but in modern Western society they’re not. So we forget that our wounds are universal, that others have them too. Eventually, we begin to see our wounds as a sign that we don’t quite deserve to be human. Even in the yoga community, which by definition should be unconditionally accepting, we hide. “I won’t be able to teach because of this neurological disorder,” a young student in training recently told me. “No one can know about my anxiety,” said another. “They’d never come to class if they did.” So we grow ashamed of our wounds, and hide them from others.
We may even project the negative labels we give our inner self onto others. We may think that our parents, teachers, or media are judgmental, and often that’s true. It can feel so convincing, this idea that the people we expect to care for us—our friends, teachers, partners—don’t fully value our “broken” parts. But this is also projection. When we delve under the surface, the story becomes clearer: it is we who dishonor our inner self, and it’s hard to accept this truth.
Bo Forbes in Ode to the Unbroken: Our Wounds Make Us Human
There is an old zen saying: “Snow falls, each flake in its appropriate place.” It’s a lovely way of saying everything is unfolding just as it should, that there is grace and order even in apparent chaos.
Image by paul bica on flickr
The building where I used to run a meditation group was on the same street as a fire station. One could almost guarantee that sometime during the meditation a fire engine would come rushing past, sirens wailing. Not surprisingly, people would afterwards complain. “How could I meditate with that noise?”
How often have we felt something similar? There’s an unspoken assumption that the mind can only become quiet if the world around is quiet. We imagine the ideal meditation setting to be somewhere far from the madding crowd — a retreat deep in a forest, a peaceful chapel, or the quiet of one’s own bedroom, perhaps. It is much harder for the mind to settle down in a noisy environment. Or is it?