By Kate Gallagher
Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of our world - Joanna Macy
Over the last six years, Corvallis has become home for me - most of all because of Live Well and this most gracious community. Thinkers like Joanna Macy, scientists like Erik Erikson as well as yogi masters reveal and remind us how deeply important it is to consider our short and long term, near and far-reaching impact on the world around us and on fellow beings. A term that describes this sentiment is generativity. Perhaps one of the most simply enlightened thoughts we can have is "how can I help?" How can I make life a little gentler for those I love and for those I will never meet? What can I do now to pay it forward to benefit others in the future? And while these contemplations are likely our constant companions, I am moved by the open-hearted generosity and the spirit of generativity in this community.
Last December, Naomi, along with our community, raised over $1000 for No More Deaths. Throughout the year, the generosity of our community has supported over two dozen people with limited financial means practice yoga. Just Tuesday night, we raised over $600 to send to UNICEF to support Rohingya refugees. And this upcoming Sunday, December 17th, we're banding together to support the family of a dear community member with medical debt due to a life-threatening illness. Lisa will be teaching The Sacrament of Breath from 1:30-3:30pm, and we'll love for you to come.
The financial generosity of our community is only surpassed by generosity of heart. Among the greatest gifts I've received from our community is love...
When I was making the decision to move to Corvallis I did a traditional Buddhist divination, by blindly opening a holy book to a page and letting it guide me. At the time I felt lonely, isolated and afraid about making a big change in my life. The passage I opened to, however, was like a breath of hopeful reassurance. I can't remember what the page said exactly, but it was a poem of sorts that talked of being showered with and held in a circle of love. As I am on the edge of leaving for a year, it comes rushing back to me - how very true this has become... and I am so grateful. Dear friends, you have taught me so much. I came in as a rambunctious yogi and I leave much gentler on myself and on others. I take these heart-lessons with me. While I don't think this is goodbye forever... a cycle has completed itself, that much feels certain.
What's next? Here's a bit about my adventure:
I plan to spend much or all of 2018 in a solitary meditation, practice and study retreat. During this time I will not be working, socializing or participating in life as usual, but retreating to a place of solitude to stabilize my attention in meditation and grow quiet enough to listen to the heart’s wisdom. While it is a great privilege and freedom, it is also great work. It is intensive and trying, and will likely ask everything I have to give. I like to call it a project versus a retreat, because I associate the word retreat with a density of expectations. And while, naturally, I hope the retreat will bear fruit, the only sane way for me to approach this work is with few expectations so that I might allow the unexpected wisdom of what is before me to emerge.
One of my central intentions is to explore the play between and among structure and fluidity, practical prescription and intuition, discipline and ease. I will be utilizing the rigorous practice guidelines set forth by my Tibetan lineage while also leaning into the emergence of my feminine sensibilities. Many contemplative teachings suggest that pure wisdom and compassion already exist in each of us, it’s only an unmasking and unveiling and un-obscuring that must occur to know them more directly and consistently. May it be so. May the tangled obscurations of the heart be free. And may we contemplative seekers continue to un-mask ourselves again and again so that we know the reflection of ourselves in one another ever more vividly. I think there is one true consequence of deep practice and the growing wisdoms of reflectivity and interdependence, and that is generativity, the insight that by giving to others indeed we fill up our own hearts... The insight that your heart is my heart, that labels like yours and mine are only relatively, and not ultimately, true or useful. This is my hope for the project.
I'm due back in January 2019, when I'll guide the second part of our 2018-2019 yoga teacher training; this section of the program will also be offered as a stand-alone contemplative series/meditation immersion also for those not interested in teaching. Please stay tuned to the Live Well website and newsletter as details unfold. Take such beautiful care of yourself. Thank you for absolutely everything. I love you. Kate