I didn’t know what to expect when I came for the chat: what we would talk about, the emotions that would arise, how involved people would get. As a home body, I often struggle with getting involved in activities outside of work hours, but at the same time I also have a desire to connect with the community that resides beyond my home and workspace. When presented with the opportunity, I often pass over such events, but this time something deeper drew me to come. For a long time I have struggled to participate in conversations surrounding climate change. When someone mentions the documentary they just watched about floods, extinctions and the like, I am paralyzed by fear: fear of the unknown, and by feelings of hopelessness, and powerlessness. What are we going to do? How will I survive? What’s going to really happen?
I hoped, that by coming to this conversation that I would find a reason not to be afraid, and to have a foundation from which I could move forward. While I didn’t find the answers that I wished for, I did leave the conversation filled with newfound hope.
Beginning the class we introduced ourselves and provided the reason to which why we were attending. The reasons were much more diverse than I expected. Some were there because the topic intersected with their school work, with some thinking that their field needed to be more involved in participating in the conversation on climate change, while others were seeking a fresh perspective on a topic that had become too familiar and from which they had separated their emotional sides too much from. Others were there more so to see what the community at QSY could do in terms of it’s ability to come together and relate to a problem much bigger than itself, as well as to use those ideas brought forth to refine their own.
We were then presented with facts about climate change and asked to note how we felt as we heard the information. When asked to share a snapshot of what we felt as the information was presented to us, I found it interesting to note how many people discussed their physical reaction. Some people, like myself felt a part of their chest tighten, while others became shaky or tense in different parts of their body. This, I believe was a very real demonstration of what we discussed later, which was the ability of yoga to bring us more in touch with ourselves. So wrapped up in our thoughts we often don’t recognize our physical experiences, especially in such subtle circumstances. People then accompanied these physical reactions with their mental experiences. Some were hopeful that a solution could be found, others were in despair as they remarked on how climate change had already touched them personally as they saw places that were special to them suffer the consequences of late frosts and drought. Myself, I noticed that I reverted back to old cycles of thought that wondered how I would survive in an environment that might not be able to provide the resources that I need to live, as well as whether I have the right to bring the next generation into this world when even I myself am fearful of it.
In the open discussion that followed, yoga unsurprisingly was somewhat a place of focus. The inner-connectedness that yoga brings to our lives, it was argued, in turn allows us to create and connect to the spaces, the conversations and the community that can bring about positive change. To analyze our personal actions in terms of their effect on our environment as a whole is a sure route to paralysis by guilt, and feelings of powerlessness, and isolation. Combined with the closing remarks the discussion certainly made me feel that community, the creation of and connection with, is certainly an avenue to find answers, the way in which we can move forward with a problem that affects all of us on this little blue dot.
Community is the place in which we can share our feelings openly, where we can learn that we are not alone, and where we can hopefully move towards finding peace within. Community is the place in which we can start to find answers and solutions, which in turn leads to action. While we didn’t necessarily come up with any answers or goals, perhaps you could say that some unstated solutions were found, and this is likely unique to each person that attended. Regardless, I believe that the community that was formed by just being open with one another, not being afraid to show our tears of anger, frustration, and fear, and by not being afraid to be completely honest, was an important first step. Like climate change, I don’t think any of us can say where this will lead to, but in seeing little smiles of hope, or at least a show of peace on everyone’s faces as they closed their eyes to reflect on the experience, I don’t think anyone could say that tonight we didn’t make some sort of positive impact on our little piece of the globe.
For information on the structure used for the discussion, check out www.conversationcafe.org. Queen Street Conversations will continue in the following months, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in attending http://queenstreetyoga.com/community#qsconversations
This post was written by Tegan, who by day works as a Technical Writer and by night is a work-trade helping to manage the social media aspect of Queen Street Yoga. In her spare time she’s also an avid horseback rider, and loves taking her dog out for walks on KW’s many trails.