This is a time of immense collective grief. We are grieving the loss of our livelihoods, our community connections and indeed the world as we knew it.
I myself have been moving through these stages of grief, and was so sad today to receive this message today from Philadelphia’s SBA.
I am choosing to receive it as a threshold experience.
I was inspired by a conversation with Buddhist teacher Roshi Joan Halifax I heard recently on the podcast Irresistible. She made the case that we are collectively moving through a rite of passage. She detailed these three stages:
Stage 1: Separation– socially, from our work lives, from our casual, in-person community in our neighborhoods. We are in this stage, fully.
Stage 2: Threshold Experience– this is a catalyst experience that begets change. Based on this experience, we transform into a form of ourselves that is not the form we were before the rite of passage began.
This is where I am. This is where Maha Yoga is.
Stage 3: Integration or Return– following the threshold experience, we integrate the lessons and either return to the self we were, or integrate the experience to become something new.
After discussion with Maha teachers and listening to their difficulty getting unemployment compensation during the lockdown, and the challenges Maha has had attempting to secure funding, we are transitioning all Maha teachers from independent contractors to employees. That change will be complete this week.
It’s a ton of work. It’s considerable added expense. But in my heart I know it’s right.
I’m unwilling to return to a world in which the teachers who helped build and sustain this community are unprotected if the worst possible things occur, as they currently are.
It’s a leap of faith. It’s a risk. As an entrepreneur, I’m no stranger to risk. And as a yogi, the ethics have always been paramount for me. Ethically, I believe this is the right move for our teachers and the studio.
I am leaning heavily into the three peacemaker tenets that Halifax shared in that podcast:
Tenet of Not Knowing
Tenet of Bearing Witness
Tenet of Compassionate Action
I do not know what the the world we return to will look like. The not knowing is of course difficult, but is necessary to hold. I am bearing witness to the staggering pain and loss that is everywhere I look. I myself have lost so much. The Maha teachers have lost so much. Our students have lost so much.
In witnessing and acknowledging what is real around me, I am doing my best to move compassionately, and to let my heart guide me.
I hope that if Covid-19 returns next year, these structural changes will mean Maha and our teachers are more protected. But for now, we are in a deeply perilous time of not knowing.
I have asked for your support repeatedly, and thank you for your continued engagement. If you are employed and able to donate to our Covid-19 relief fund, that money will support the teachers and studio owner who continue to bring you the yoga you love. Any amount helps.
If you prefer to donate via our GoFundMe, that link is below.
And if you are in financial insecurity yourself, I am bearing witness and offering compassion. I know how difficult it is. And Maha will give you access to our online yoga studio at a sliding scale during this shutdown.
We will get through this by supporting each other. Never not.
May this threshold experience give birth to a better world for us all.