It Takes More Than a Village

beesThis year my parents started hosting a beehive. I was lucky enough to be there the day they arrived and I got to meet them. Something powerful and magical in their presence connected within me and I was excited that they had a safe home to explore, go about their work, find nourishment, create, and live.

The bees have their individual roles within the hive and they also all work together as though they are one organism. One community. They need one another in order to survive. Beyond that – they need one another in order to thrive. They are whole as a hive.

It was about ten years ago right now that I started practicing yoga. I had been quite ill for a few years and no one could figure out what was wrong. I kept getting worse and it felt like I was being treated not as a person or a whole. As more and more specialists got involved to look at one segment or another and couldn’t find an answer in tests, many insisted I was making things up. I continued to get worse – every part of me closing up. First my tongue showed symptoms, then pain in my stomach, until eventually my throat would close up and I had no energy to move off the couch.

I started working with a naturopath and remember the relief and tears that came from our first visit mostly because she actually listened to me. She listened to all of me. From there, we started to work together to find ways of healing. We discovered it was aggressive candida taking over my entire body and pretty much all of its systems. She was the one who suggested yoga to me since it would help strengthen my core. So I went.

My mom came with me at first. We went together both starting our own exploration. I remember those first classes well, especially shavasana. I had no idea if I was doing it “right” and couldn’t stay still, my mind completely in overdrive and I had no practice relaxing except for when my ill body forced me to through the sheer inability to move (which I also resisted mentally).

I often think of those early days of stepping onto this healing path. Of the care, tolerance, support, and guidance of the naturopath and my first teacher.

I’ve been thinking of all the teachers that have come since and in so many different forms. I’ve been thinking of not only healing that first deep illness through releasing so much in mind, body, energy – healing the root of it as well as strengthening. It took about seven years for the candida to be in balance and I’m confident I would have kept deteriorating without that help. I’ve been thinking about what has happened since then – how I’ve worked with healing trauma. Not on my own at all. Only through the support and help of others. The generosity of others. The kindness of others. The compassion of others. The knowledge and care of others who could help in so many ways. Ways I’m both aware and not aware of at all (and don’t need to be).

My heart grows peaceful as I feel all of the interactions. As I see every teacher I’ve met – both on and off the mat – I come to realize that there have been hundreds of people involved in my healing process. It has taken hundreds of people to help in my process. I needed hundreds of people. Hundreds. Each one offering something of themselves. Each one bringing insight and compassion. The wider the circle has expanded the more whole I feel. The more I start to be able to also integrate and incorporate more and more of myself, which, in turn, allows me to integrate more and more compassion for others. Generosity of spirit seems to be overflowing in me these days and it feels so full and bright and wonderful. I’ve never felt more genuine or authentic.

It’s not even about giving or receiving. It’s not about wanting anything from people in return. It’s not about any sort of calculation. No one is being used. It’s not an either/or. Or black and white. It’s and/and. It’s wholeness.

I remember early on in my teacher training hearing that, “all you have to do is heal yourself”. I felt such confusion come up – certainly that couldn’t be “all” you had to do. Not that it’s easy by any means – it just didn’t make sense to me at the time. That couldn’t be enough – could it? How would that work? Aren’t you supposed to help other people? I find more and more the truth of that statement and I agree fully. “All” you have to do is heal yourself.

Healing yourself does not mean you have to heal on your own.

I’ve realized that I’m the only one who can do the internal work for myself. I’m the only one who will understand what my own healing looks like from the inside. I’m the only one who can apply the tools I need. Except I couldn’t do that without all the hundreds of people I have met who offered so much help and understanding. I couldn’t do that without other people sharing their tools and wisdom to help me even know what was available to me: in both simple and more complex  exchanges, in conversations, in therapy, in yoga classes, in workshops or sessions, in so many ways I couldn’t even list them all. The more I heal myself the more I feel shifts with others. The more the energy changes the more my compassion grows – for myself and for others.

None of those people had to be there for me and yet, they were. Without question. I‘m starting to see more how we can (and do) all work together in order to heal. In order to heal ourselves. It takes more than a village. Much more. We are each in our own process, doing our own work – just like the bees. We are also each already whole and we are already part of a whole. Even if it doesn’t feel like it or we’ve forgotten what that feels like – it doesn’t mean it’s gone or broken. And I’m coming to see the importance of working with, contributing to, and needing to be a conscious part of the whole for one another. Not only to survive – to thrive.