On Sunday, as storms were pounding down on Texas, I spoke to my mother, who lives in Houston. She said that the house was still miraculously dry, however the street was flooded. The water would rise during heavy portions of rain, and then somewhat recede during a break or a period of lighter rain. Then, with the next heavy rain, the water would rise again, each time filling the street more quickly and coming closer to the house. She said she hoped for more breaks so that there would be time for more water to be absorbed, and time for more water to flow out. But with each drop of rain, the already saturated earth couldn’t take any more, and with the bayous flooding there was no place for the water to flow to.
Saturation. As the rains continue, and my heart aches for the displaced people and damaged areas of my beloved state, this word keeps playing on my mind. I looked up the definition and here it is: the state or process that occurs when no more of something can be absorbed, combined with, or added.
And this is what I have been thinking about and talking to my classes about this week. Saturation. When you, just liked the earth soaked by the storms, can’t absorb anything more. Even before Hurricane Harvey I was feeling saturated. By news more disturbing each time I decided I needed to tune in to see what is happening. It is hard to even take it all in, as areas in which we were making progress seem to be falling away, day by day. Seeing a lack of compassion and humanity from our country and state leadership. Gasping as the civil rights of so many are being challenged. Watching neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville. Realizing that our President doesn’t seem to have an issue with it, and would rather turn his attention to threatening a government shut down if we don’t build a wall separating us from our neighbor. Each new piece of information falls like heavy drops of rain, until we are saturated, and can’t absorb anything else. But it still keeps coming. And this weekend, devastating news of a storm that is destroying huge areas of Texas and Louisiana.
Do you feel like you just can’t take anymore? When we are saturated, we literally can’t absorb anymore. That is where our practice can come in. What happens when you come to your mat to practice or meditate, or even when you just hit “pause” for a moment, wherever you are. You have that moment to stop. And, without taking in additional information, you can begin to look at what has saturated you. And only then, when you really pause and look, can you begin to digest and absorb what is there. Just like in the storm, there have to be some break in the rainfall, so that what is there can be absorbed. Then, when we are not saturated anymore, we can absorb something else, or gather our strength so that we can move forward with right action to help.
Please take time to digest and absorb what is happening. This act of self-care is not an indulgence; it is not selfish. It will actually better prepare you to move forward and help those in need; you just can’t be of the most help if you yourself are already too soaked to take on anything else. So, take some time for your mindfulness practices—whether it be Yoga, meditation, a quiet walk, a contemplative pause over a cup of tea, or something else.
And then go out and help and be a light in these stormy times.