In yoga, we often talk about this idea of “kula” ~ or our community ~ often in light of its playfulness. Functioning like a circle of friends or even family, silliness and humor frequently permeates the group with great joy. It is certainly a wonderful byproduct. But the kula also serves another vital role in our lives ~ one of support, encouragement and strength.
As a vital link in a community ~ whether it’s yogic or familiar or neighborhood in nature ~ each one of us has an important role in tending to the needs of one another. When we “go it alone” it is easy to get lost in the abyss of the mind, the critic that pecks away at our truth, questioning the very nature of what we’re doing and why. Most of us are plagued by self-doubts from time to time, and we need to be bolstered up.
“Friends are angels who lift our feet when our own wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”
And yet, as we look at others, we often fail to realize that very same need exists ~ the deep need that we all share to be accepted, acknowledged and loved. Facades deceive us. We look at someone with a beautiful practice and think, “Of course she knows how inspiring she is!” We look at someone who is smiling despite great personal trials and think, “Of course he can handle this, he’s so strong!” We look at a great teacher and think, “Of course she knows how much we appreciate and learn from her!” We assume they know this too. Of course they do.
But sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes they are struggling, and they don’t know the truth. And sadly, we don’t take the time to tell them because, well, it just seems so very obvious to us. But we need to stop assuming. We need to look them in the eye and say, “I know the truth of who you are. I know the truth even if you don’t, and I will hold the space for you until you know it too. I will be your witness.”
This is our higher purpose.
Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Marc Cohn (married to ABC news correspondent Elizabeth Vargas) released an album last year, Join the Parade. It was his first in almost a decade, a time marked by great personal challenges. (Cohn was shot in the head in an attempted carjacking following a Colorado performance in 2005.) One of the songs Let Me Be your Witness is a beautiful gospel ballad that Cohn describes as “the centerpiece of the record.” It is one that reminds us of this higher purpose:
When no one sees and no one hears
Your secret heart
Your bitter tears
When it feels like you’re just sinking in the sand
When you can’t remember who you are
When you wonder how you came this far
Call my name and put me on the stand
Let me be your witness…
To your mystery
To your ecstasy
To the tears you cry
I will testify
To your longest night
To how hard you fight
To your inner light
A higher place
To where you are
And to who you’ve been—
To your heaven
To your hell
Let me be your witness.
The kula: a community, an awesome fun-loving, beautiful circle of beings; providing energy and laughter to one another, along with the call to a higher purpose of support and encouragement …
If you can’t remember who you are, let ME be your witness.