Got Empathy?

Calvin & Hobbes Empathy.png

Saturday afternoon at the Kekoka Yoga Retreat, I took a yoga nidra (yogic sleep) workshop led by Wyatt Portz. If you’re unfamiliar with yoga nidra, it’s a powerful meditation that’s one of the easiest yoga practices to develop and maintain. What you do is you lie in Savasana while the teacher gives systematic verbal cues in order to induce total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. Ideally your body goes to sleep but your mind stays alert, like the “going-to-sleep stage,” Sometimes people do go to sleep, and Wyatt told us that was fine because the body will take what it needs. It’s my go-to practice when I’m toast and has been a sort of gateway to seated meditation for me. I was definitely toast that afternoon and was really looking forward to being in Savasana for 40 whole minutes!

Wyatt began by talking about the science behind the method, then told us it was traditional to set a sankalpa―an intention or commitment we make to support our highest truth. The sankalpa I decided to set was “empathy” because I’m working on being more understanding and less judgmental, particularly with people whose political views or general approaches to life are different than mine. I adjusted my posture so that I was supremely comfortable and began to follow Wyatt’s cues.

Less than two minutes into the practice I heard a loud snore, then another, and then another. My skin prickled and my jaw clenched. As the snoring continued without end, I had to stop myself from getting up and poking the guy.

Then I remembered my sankalpa. The guy was clearly tired and his body was taking what it needed. He couldn’t help it if he snored and probably would have been embarrassed had he known. As Mohler said to me later when I told her the story, “Be careful what you put out there. Sometimes the universe will smack you on the forehead.”

During our closing Sunday morning, MJ talked about Camp Kekoka’s upcoming Songwriter’s Roundtable to benefit camper scholarships for kids with cancer. Afterward, the guy who had been snoring went up to her and told her that when his daughter had had cancer, she went to a Y camp for kids with cancer and it had been so powerful for her.

You just never know what someone’s going through. Thank you, snoring guy. Thank you, universe.