If you’re anything like me – you probably cry a lot – or at least you feel like crying a lot – or maybe you just look around at the world and think that everyone should be crying a lot.
Sometimes – I can get so overwhelmed by all the pieces that need fixing.
Sometimes – I can barely move under the weight of it all.
Sometimes – I forget where to find the light.
There is no denying that the last twelve months have been an exceptionally difficult time, for so many of us, in so many different ways, and for so many different reasons. If you’ve been watching the world through the windows of a smartphone or a television screen…well…you probably feel like crying a lot, and I don’t think anyone would blame you for that.
I’ve so often wondered how much of our realities are contingent on what we perceive in the media, and how differently we might feel should we distance ourselves from the ‘out there’ and focus more on the ‘in here’.
As it turns out – the in here – is pretty damn incredible.
Emma Hohnen (above second from right, with from L-R Elisa, Ben and Sandra) is a yoga teacher based in Urunga. She has experienced firsthand, how hardship has unleashed the incredible power of connection and community. Through her classes, Emma has become the nucleus of a group of people that came for the yoga – and found themselves forming lifelong friendships, building support networks, and connecting with the world around them from a place of love, compassion, and creativity.
“I hope to provide a place for people to come to feel safe, included and connected and have a sense of the community around them. The yoga classes have given people a place where they work on their own wellbeing and contribute to the wellbeing of others just by checking in with each other, chatting, and seeing if someone needs a hand with something. There is so much goodness and positivity in each of us and in the world that is not reflected in the 6pm news at the moment. The greatest challenges for the community are loneliness and finding a sense of purpose. The best way to tackle these challenges is to realise that others are in the same boat as you and just by asking someone for a coffee after yoga, or reaching out and asking for help, a sense of community, connection and purpose can be created,” says Emma.
One of Emma’s students turned friend, Sandra gushed over her experience in the class.
“During the bushfires, Emma had people not only people camping out at her home, but their pets as well! I knew she was a busy mum, so I said to her don’t worry about dinner, I’ll bring it over.” She pauses for a moment, smiling in thought. “Food is love!”
This encounter is such a beautiful illustration of a concept often overlooked: “darkness exists to make light truly count.”
Two of Emma’s newer students, Deb and Ben, sat down with me after a class for an impromptu coffee, cake, and conversation on all things yoga and community.
“I initially joined yoga to keep my flexibility and agility,” Ben says. “But it’s become more about the mental side of things. This particular yoga centres me and helps to keep me emotionally strong. There is also such a great sense of community that has stemmed from the fires, floods, and Covid. In a way, it has drawn people together. You see some really special things; community spirit and connection, and centring for your mind and body, and overall – there’s just support. Yoga is interactional, social, and physical. It reminds us that it is who we are right now that matters.”
Deb agrees, adding that small communities have always come together.
“We lost it for a while because we all got so busy. I think the adversity that people are facing has given them time to slow down and reflect, and communities are coming together again as a result. The outside world is scary, but if you’re just here, now… everyone seems to be coming into a space where they are actually able to give their time to themselves and to others.”
I smiled a lot during this exchange. I didn’t feel like crying at all. Ben offered me some of his cake. Deb held the two passionfruit Emma had gifted me while fiddles with the settings on my camera. I thought about how I should probably try out a yoga class. Emma’s words came to mind:
“If someone feels anxious or out of their depth in thinking about starting yoga, I would say that this is a very natural and normal feeling. Sometimes you have to challenge these types of thoughts and feelings and just give something a go. I have new students in their 80’s who inspire me every time. Say to yourself just try one class!”
As I reflect on these words, I think about how they can serve as a gentle reminder to us all.
Perhaps – the light is always everywhere.
Perhaps – all we need is a tea, and a stretch, and a chat with a friend to help us peel our eyes away from the darkness of the out thereand focus in on the brilliance of the in here.