Some of you might have read some of this already, as I touched on it briefly on one of my recent Instagram posts. This past week I jumped back into my regular teaching schedule, and this made for one of the best dharmas I’ve ever offered. Maybe because its true, or because its coming from a very real place.
For those who don’t know, my parent’s house burned down about a week and a half ago. The fire started in the middle of the night. My parents and two brothers were residents and somehow, by what seems like some type of divine intervention, got out of the house with minimal injuries. Mind you, it took our 4-story home only 20 minutes to burn to the ground. They were given a very, VERY small window to survive. And they did.
I woke up to something like 8 missed calls and 20 some odd texts. It was 6:30 in the morning and I was crawling out of bed to get ready for my Mysore practice… and then time stood still. I’ll never forget the way my Dad said “the house burned down to the ground. Come home” so matter-of-factly. I panicked. Wept. Called my friends. Called my job. Got in the car. I put on Serial podcast so I wouldn’t have to think about the loss (by the way what is happening with Adnan’s case now??? I heard the case is reopened for appeals… yes? I just finished the season yesterday I’m freaking out, now what?!) The closer I got to exit 37 the more I started to freak out. “Burned to the ground” just played over and over and over in my head. What did that even look like? I was about to find out… and I wasn’t ready for it but there was no getting ready for it.
It was devastating. Horrifying. If I had eaten breakfast I’m sure I would of thrown it up. The entire street was closed off. It smelt awful. There was a lot of smoke still. There were so many people. Firemen, police, detectives, Red Cross, neighbors, first responders. I saw my Dad and brother and I broke down. I saw my Aunt who was already making a list of everything that needed to be done. So I gave myself 5 more minutes to cry… and then I dove in. My family needed, and still needs, time to recover so I became one of the main contacts for home insurance, car insurance, refilling medication, new phones, donations, police reports, the fire investigation, shutting off utilities, relocation services, demolishing the rest of the home, etc. etc. etc. the list goes on and on and on. I did most of this from a hospital that had shit service and wifi (mom was admitted for smoke inhalation). It was a lot, and still is, but I was exactly where I needed to be. I don’t live with my family so I didn’t experience the fire the way they did. I knew they needed me to hold them up and take care of them… but like they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. I was nonstop once I had access to my computer. Then suddenly I hit a brick wall – I thought I was losing my mind. I was delusional. I won’t go into detail of what I thought was happening, but it was dark and confusing. I pulled a nurse aside and asked for help. First question out of his mouth, “When was the last time you ate or drank water?” I hadn’t consumed anything the entire day. It hadn’t even crossed my mind to take breaks.
I started the next day on the right foot. I didn’t wake up until 10:30. I made sure to eat breakfast and hydrate (hospital food is still pretty gross if you’re wondering). I took a shower and spent extra time just soaking and breathing deeply. And then I rolled out my mat. Yes, in the middle of St. Claire’s hospital. I worked my way through most of the Ashtanga primary series. It was exhausting, but energizing if that makes any sense. I had come to realize that filling up and taking care of myself didn’t just mean checking off the basic needs. For me, and for all of you who consider yourself yogis, filling up means getting on your mat. Every time you step on your mat, its an opportunity to reset, recharge, refill. I like to think of it like a savings account. Every time you practice you make a deposit of whatever you need – stillness, quietness, calmness, discipline, strength, confidence. Whatever it is. You keep going and going and going and saving up until one day, you have to withdraw. And I don’t wish any type of tragedy or heartache on any of you, but truth is, its coming. “Suffering is part of the human condition, and it comes to us all.” So make sure you’ve got enough saved up… make sure your cup is filled to the brim so that when that day does come, you don’t burn out and try to run on empty. Especially this time of year when getting in the holiday spirit also means giving a lot of yourself… your time, finances, energy, creativity. Even though you’re pooring out for good reasons, you still have to fill back up. And when you’re feeling low, you know exactly where you can go. Back to the mat, or wherever you find home base.