Dealing with Tragedy - Yoga Journal

Dealing with Tragedy

After a tragic event, it's hard to feel positive about the world we live in. But we can use it to motivate us to be kinder, more generous, and more loving toward all.

I watched the news coverage in horror last week. Like most of the country, I was stunned and confused. How could anyone harm children as young as the victims in the school shooting in Connecticut? My mind raced as the reporters painted an all-too-real picture of the events that had taken place. I imagined how scared those children must have been—both the victims and the survivors. I thought about the teachers in the school that day, and I wondered how I would have handled being in that situation. I thought about the parents getting an email notifying them that their child's school was on lock down. I felt the grief of the first responders. I felt sad for the shooter's family and imagined how they must be feeling as the media painted their loved one as a monster. It was almost too much to bear. I turned off my TV.

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I asked myself: Could feelings of such overwhelming sadness and hurt in my heart do more harm than good? Is it healthy to dwell on the bad things in the world? I realized that sitting in front of the TV with my mouth open didn't do anything but leave me feeling melancholy and hopeless. And, frankly, in this situation the last thing the world needs is more darkness.

After such a tragic event, it's hard to feel positive about the world we live in. But through my yoga practice, I've found that it is possible to maintain a hopeful optimism for the future. While I know I can't control the world around me, I have some control over my own feelings and actions. I can't stop bad things from happening, or undo the bad things that have already happened, I but can do my small part to bring about change. I remind myself of how the tiny changes in alignment (those little shifts that aren't even noticeable to the untrained eye) can totally change the way I experience a pose over time. And I know that the little things we each do to support each other every day can have the same type of effect on the world.

Bad things happen. Sometimes they hit closer to home than others. We can look at it as a sign that the world is a bad place, unsafe for our children. We can get angry. Or we can use it to motivate us all to be kinder, more generous, and more loving so that the world will be better for all.

With that in mind, I unroll my mat. I breathe. I feel. I hope for peace.