Standing at the Riverbank – by Jennifer Buergermeister
Once I had a dream that I was standing at a riverbank. I posed a question: how can I make a difference in the lives of the cancer patients who I see every Friday? I sensed the answer must be somewhere on the other side of the river. I looked down into the water, and I saw a reflection that was not my own. I shockingly found myself facing a demon instead. The demon, ugly and monstrous, told me to forget others, “Worry about your own suffering,” it said. I moved away from the river so that I could no longer see the gruesome creature’s reflection. I knew that I needed to cross the river, but the demon materialized and stood now guarding the other side, intent on blocking my passage. Do I run, do I hide, do I attack? I paused and took a breath.
Even in my dream, I knew that was an important first step! If I am a co-creator of my world, then the “demon” is there to show me something. What did it have to teach me? The reflection of my unaware ego and my self-doubts said to focus on myself. I feared to face my own suffering, as most of us often do. I realized that the demon was my ego fed by self-doubt that I could really make a difference in the patient’s lives. I then asked myself, “What if I let go of fear and doubts about being good enough, smart enough, or anything enough.” Inspiration struck as the dots connected to an experience I had in 2001 regarding dreams and fear! (That’s a separate story to share soon)
How would it be instead to simply have faith and courage? The cancer patients loved me and there was really nothing for me to fear. We had only beautiful moments together over those three years I served as a facilitator. I stood tall and I looked it straight into the eyes as the river bed width shrank between us. “Help me and show me the way, or move out of my way so that I can get across this river and find an angel that will.” The demon transformed, bowed, and confessed that its strength to resist was only fueled by my fear. “Now that you have no fear,” it said, “I would like to walk with you and share insights into your psyche.”
The demon became the angel and walked me toward the light. And it was there that I had another flash of inspiration – without breath, life cannot be. But most importantly, where there is fear, love cannot be. We immobilize ourselves from much success in life because we feel shame or lack self-worth. It is the path of ego that begins.
Breath means spirit, derived from the Latin word spiritus. With yoga, we can breathe the cure of anything caused by mental, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical disturbances. Isn’t it all just perception? We project what we feel on the inside. We run from what is right because what is true and right is often the most difficult path to realize when we are full of self-doubts and broken records playing our old ways of being. We perpetuate perceptions that are conditioned – complacency often reinforced by the fear of the truth or our own greatness. We see this in the workplace, Corporate America, and also in governments. I once worked at a country club teaching yoga where the directors condemned us for speaking about energy centers in the body, or chakras, associated with the endocrine system and not at all an uncommon word to hear in a yoga class. I thought I was there to teach yoga, not just a physical exercise. Pride, money and fear may thread through the fabric of its community making the environment contextual to its members.
In recent years consciousness seems to be changing and all over the world, including in corporate environments, people are talking about all aspects of yoga and mindfulness – ahhh, a glimpse of hope! What if we are continual co-creators of our universe? The path to enlightenment requires observation into what festers inside us beyond conscious states of awareness into the dark abyss begging to be explored. From the unresolved we wreak havoc and destruction, eventually leading us into suffering because we do not understand our world or our place in it. Gems can be found in the murkiness of our suffering. Lessons bloom maturity and better ways of coping. But we keep looking outside ourselves for answers to our problems.
We even say that we believe in G-d, a higher power that glues everything together. However, sometimes our glue stick weakens if our minds so choose it. As such, nothing is left sacred when we fail to see life prismatically. Therefore we continue down a path of destruction that doesn’t look like much on the microcosmic scale, but macro-cosmically the view is atrocious. It reaches into all aspects of life and its effects clearly steer us toward the tipping point of a global psychosis. In America and across the globe, if real change doesn’t spread with a higher mission for humanity and the planet, we will waste this land and our future faster than most people can imagine. Some are more optimistic about how long until life as we know it will no longer exist, but if we continue to live in false charms, I give it 30 years.
We need a different way of conceptualizing sacrifice. Is society still sacrificing a few “good men” for the whole? Christians found that Jesus represents the sacrifice on the cross? He was the perfect lamb who “saved” the lives of millions by dying for their sins. Religious people on the planet flock to churches and synagogues every day. Why are they not hearing the message? Is it because they are hearing a message of truth and people lack the courage to do what is right? Could it be that the message of sacrifice has been so deeply embedded into our psyche’s that we naturally let the few live for our sins or even decide our own fate. Government, big business, and religion are not very different in how they manage the masses. There will be sacrifices, even if it is for finding sustainability on the planet. Finding alternative options for our future by forming think tanks fueled by the creative process using inspiration as a healthy way to continue is one option. It’s better than the ignorance that currently drives the Earth beyond its sustainability.
The Way to peace and harmony is through encouragement and by helping the inhabitants of Earth move toward new ways of relating to a precious life, including how to cope with the stresses of the third world or urbanized life. People are led by example and often do what their superiors tell them. We need our governmental and religious figures to lead us toward wellness. We can begin the work individually.
By owning a yoga studio, I largely contributed to spirituality in our workplace. The energy I put into all that I do is intended to care for the bodies and spirits of my students and coworkers. No longer a studio owner, I still volunteer and teach because I love it. It also feels good to help others and build projects surrounded by communities. My mission is not driven by monetary means. It comes from some other place. It can be difficult for others to understand this concept since we live in a monetary world where accumulation and status are important. We all like to eat, have a roof over our heads, etc., but we can keep unity in our hearts and build a career. One doesn’t have to be sacrificed for the other. Sustaining needs by doing what you love is the best way to live. I have also learned that not everyone cares if you are poor, but when you help people you are rich. Humans have participated in the evolution of nature, and if we teach others to realize this essential concept of shared sacredness, then there will be more sacred spaces and ideas for us to share. Life contains multi-layered systems that make up the diversity of living creatures and organic substances on Earth, including the billions of stars, star clusters, and precious galaxies that make up our universe. We must see ourselves as a part of the whole rather than separate from it.
The workplace is a new frontier in which to practice spirituality. If behind closed doors we are kind and considerate beings, then in the workplace we are irreverent, we are flirting with fragmentation. We cannot part-time love as human beings when it doesn’t serve a new strategic plan. We are of the same family and we should treat each other with oneness. Namaste’.