In the last two weeks, NYC, the city that was struck ten years ago with one of the worst traumatic events in recent history, had to deal with an earthquake-scare and a hurricane-alert. In both cases, we had to decide – “In what can we trust?”. It was a crisp and clear day, as I was having lunch at a Thai restaurant on Orchard Street, with a client from Hawaii, who I’ve been counseling for the last ten years . He came to NYC to accompany his partner, who was about to undergo cancer-surgery. I told him how resilient he looked, and he pointed at me, saying “Thanks to you”. I took a breath, trying to take in his acknowledgment, when the floor started shaking like we were on top of a moving subway. “I think it’s an earthquake”, a woman sitting at the table next to us said, with dread on her face. “Breathe…” I said to her gently, hoping she could hear me. She struggled to take a breath, thanked me, and felt calmer. After all this is New York, and here you can become intimate with a stranger in a second, and then never see them again. We made some small talk, as texts were confirming that indeed, it was an earthquake. My client and I continued our conversation with ease, although people started to gather around the TV set, to watch CNN informing about the earthquake that originated in Washington.
With Hurricane Irene, we had a lot more time to prepare. The media was having a feast describing every detail of this anticipated disaster. Of course I’m not against preparation, nor being cautious. But, can preparation to an anticipated disaster, be done in a ‘sacred manner and in celebration’ (Hopi Message) rather than with anxious and dreadful anticipation? For me, Hurricane Irene, turned out to be a celebration. On Saturday morning, I took a walk down the Hudson, from Chelsea Pier all the way down to Battery park, and then to China-town. I was taking pictures, while aligning my breath, body, mind, and spirit, in movement and music. I tried to stay away from too much media, making sure I would be informed just enough about the facts. Saturday night, I stayed awake most of the night, and felt the wind coming through the open window, watching the plants on my terrace, feeling connected to the storm rather than alienated from it. On Sunday, at the ‘eye of the storm’, I went out for a walk, ran into people with dogs and children, and tourists, who were intent on having a good time in NYC. Feeling the rain and the wind on my skin – was real. There was an exquisite peace in the air, similar to 9/11. Of course, my heart went to the people who suffered the consequences of mudslides, floods and loss of life and property. But, nature is not going to become my enemy, nor do I want to live in a bubble of fear, believing that this was ‘the wrath of God, punishing the Obama administration’, or any other ‘sinful minority’, for not living according to some people’s idea of God and nature.
I remember, when I received the call from a friend to watch the twin towers collapsing on CNN. Something inside me said not to watch too much TV, but to go do a wash, and interact with the people who were swamping the streets, trying to make their way uptown, away from the disaster area. I don’t know if it was my debilitating case of sciatica, or just the survivor in me, who urged me and my partner at the time to go take a nap. I’m not sure if it was growing up in Israel, where a war, a bomb, a suicide mission, can erupt at any moment, or, if it had to do with being the son of holocaust survivors, that gave me both the ability to disconnect from, or connect to the breath~of~life, in the way I do. The message of a video I made a couple of weeks after 9/11 entitled “Calm NYC” was – “Calming your world contributes to a calmer world.” Ten years after 9/11, I feel more enamored, more belonging, and more comfortable with living in NYC than I have ever felt in the thirty six years of my living here. I can feel the heart of NYC, in a way that hearts can become in time, after they have broken open – more compassionate, spacious, more loving.
Since 9/11, I had a couple of losses that broke my heart more open. The death of my mother, and the end of a marriage, have made me more compassionate, present, and committed to enjoy the simple joys of life, and not skip my ‘Breathe Love’ – daily spiritual work-out-practice. While there are times that it’s only human to react with panic, anxiety, and dread to losses, tragedies and set backs, I believe that spreading fear, and prolonging suffering – can be a choice. I don’t for a second think that it’s an easy choice to make. At times, my fear and suffering were so unbearable, that I wished my life would be over. But, I have learned from those times, that there is absolutely nothing, that doesn’t deserve summoning unconditional love and compassion – especially for ourselves. Life is essentially good, and that in the breath itself – lies the greatest source of unconditional love, kindness, and compassion. The summoning part however – is ours to do.
We can either live in a fear-induced-bubble, disconnected from the present, holding our breath and living in our ‘informed heads’, anxious and depressed, anticipating a fantasy of the future, which never, ever happens quite the way we anticipate it. Or, we can accept life on life’s terms, and have compassion for our suffering, and make it a point to enjoy life – no matter what happens; being grateful and present to what life brings, moment by moment, breath by breath. Connecting to the Pulsation-of Life, and Being at ease with our own breath. Making that choice a priority is crucial more than ever in these times, in the ways we are dealing with the challenges of the economy, and the general uncertainty in today’s world. Amidst the uncertainty and the spreading of fear, there is a growing individual power that’s spreading in the world, like the peaceful protests of millions in Middle East. If it’s anything like the hundred monkey theory, more people are being moved by this power, choosing to inform change from the inside out peacefully, unafraid of the consequences. Indeed we are living at a time, which many of us have been preparing for many years. The consciousness of Love is spreading in our planet, through controversy and the cracks of old forms dissolving and falling away -making way to renaissance, in the way the last breath dissolves into the new one.
The Practice – Breathe~Love
Breathe with Ease, Connect to Being, Hold Your Space
Whether it’s an earthquake or a crisis, a conflict or a loss – Breathe~Love.
Align your breath, body, mind, and spirit, in movement and music.
* Notice the tightness in your body… where you’re holding your breath, your anxiety, your mental struggles….
* Accept and surrender them to the pace of the breath….
* Embrace yourself with compassion…
* Connect to the pulsation of life – Being
* Hold your space & Celebrate the sacred dance of life….