I decided to write this piece today for a lot of reasons….but the catalyst was singular…
I teach Yoga to K-5th grade several days per week, in addition to my adults in many various settings. It is challenging and immensely gratifying to work with humans at any age, but kids are something altogether special. They test you and push you and love you and touch your heart in ways that always astound me. On Thursday, I was with my 5th graders discussing goal setting and wishes, as it was the New Moon day. I do not remember the context of the initiation of the conversation that followed but will never forget the beautiful moment I shared with this group of awesome humans. We were talking about tools to help us in life, and Yoga being one of them. Someone asked if Yoga helps people who are sad. I said yes. A boy asked if Yoga could help stop someone who wanted to kill themselves from taking their life. My heart started pounding and my eyes watered. I said, yes, yes it can. I was fighting back tears when I explained that Yoga is a great tool for life and can help us cope and heal and face things and breathe and move through tension in the body and so much more. They were looking at me seriously as a few tears dripped down like rain drops onto my cheek.
I took a deep breath and decided in that moment to make comment on suicide. These are formidable years for these kids, years when I was bullied by class mates because my dad took his life. The stigma is still there for those that commit suicide and those that stand in bereavement. It will only change when people help make it change.
So, I said that suicide is something that is very near and dear to my heart, and yes Yoga can help people who are suffering greatly and contemplating exiting this earth. As children do, they were inquisitive. One child asked why it is near to my heart. I looked into my hands and said that my daddy killed himself when I was a little girl. When I looked up again, every child in that room had stopped breathing, went silent and even the boys’ eyes were welled up in tears.
I was so touched and sad at the same time. One of the students asked me when it happened. I took another deep breath and told them I was eight when it happened. Many of the children then looked down at their own yoga mats and a few tears dropped from their cheeks. One of my boys asked me if I teach Yoga now because of my father’s death. As I wiped another tear from my cheek I smiled and said, you know yea I think so! I’d never really thought of that but it seems my life experiences prepared me to help people, to want and to need to help people, to serve, to love, to guide, to hold space for other peoples pain, to hold space for discomfort of all kinds, to hold safe space for people to be vulnerable and scared and yet be comfortable enough to stay and dig in and do the work that helps them heal.
The kids looked at me with pure love and I smiled so big. God it was a beautiful moment.
I offer this very vulnerable writing to all those out there suffering from loss of a loved one, suffering from depression, suffering in any capacity. You are not alone. REMEMBER that. We are all human. We all feel sad, depressed, have insecurities. I hope you read this and find some comfort or inspiration to get help if you need it. Your life matters to so many people, PLEASE know that. This world is a better place because you are in it.
We all suffer, we all have work to do, we all need help sometimes, we all have scars. And, I think your scars are beautiful.