I haven’t taken a yoga class in quite some time, but was recently reminded of a mantra that I’d often hear teachers share at the end of class…
….“The light in me salutes the light in you”.
I often found this mantra to be a calming influence in my life – it served as a reminder that we, you and me, are connected, through our lightness.
This particular mantra popped into my head after a recent conversation with a good friend.
We were discussing the homelessness issue in Los Angeles, specifically in Venice, and how uncomfortable the situation has become.
We both acknowledged that there are so many layers and sides to the issue that it’s difficult to know where to begin.
However, finding a solution wasn’t at the crux of our discussion.
In fact, we barely scratched the surface of seeking a solution, but rather, dove into a discussion regarding the raw human emotions surrounding this issue.
My friend shared a recent experience with me…
He was walking down the street and encountered a group of homeless people laying on the sidewalk.
His first thought was, “these people are in my way”; however, he immediately realized that this didn’t reflect how he actually felt.
In fact, he shared with me that he felt empathetic, but responded from a place of human conditioning, suggesting that homeless people are “wrong” for their actions. i.e. they have no business laying on the sidewalk.
He also shared with me that the reaction he had towards these homeless people felt very similar to the reactions he often felt from others, growing up as a black man in our country – alluding to the hierarchical structures that humans put in place when we interact with one another.
Which most, if not all, are based on fear.
There’s a fine line that we’re walking right now.
Having a sense of security, food, and shelter is something that can easily be taken away from you in a heartbeat.
“The light in me salutes the light in you” suggests that we are reflections of one another, and it is through our reflections that we find connection.
This is how communities are formed and nurtured.
On the flip side of that coin, one could suggest that the “darkness in me gets amplified by the darkness in you.”
The fear of being homeless, desolate and desperate are feelings that arise when you encounter a homeless person, who similarly functions as a reflection.
This is why it’s so easy to dismiss someone living in the streets. It can trigger an avoidance mechanism, and is often subconscious.
The practice of avoiding your deepest and darkest fears is what keeps you living in a state of separatism and fight or flight.
I’m not suggesting that every time you encounter a homeless person, you’re going to dismiss, or look down upon them; however, feel that it’s a worthy exercise to closely examine the feelings that come up when you do.
Remind yourself that this person is simply a mirror, and a reflection for you.
The homelessness issue is very complicated, and perhaps it’s fair to say that our inability to look in the mirror and face our own fears is even more complicated.