A Vigil and Vinyasa: Gaining Appreciation through Mindfulness

Snapchat-9202527649124299097Peaceand love for Orlando.

Monday, Macon held an inspiring vigil for the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Bentley Hudgins, a Mercer student, arranged the vigil. The shooting left him feeling devastated and alone, so he took to Facebook to rally the community to join hands and show our support for Orlando. Little did he know that the simple act of creating a Facebook event would assemble nearly 300 people to Tattnall Square Park.

The evening began with an opening statement and a reading of the names and ages of the 49 victims. Then, as the sun set, we bowed our heads in a moment of silence. The vigil continued with the lighting of candles, the displaying of 49 white roses, and prayers from clergymen in both English and Spanish. No one in the crowd had lost anyone in Orlando, and not everyone was a member of the LGBT community. However, neither of these things meant that we could not send our love and support to the victims, their families, and their community.

Perhaps I chose to as the Om symbol to my chalk drawing, because I was inspired by the yoga class I had just biked over from. It was the monthly event, Hoppy Hour Yoga. Hoppy Hour Yoga is another amazing instance of a community coming together, but for more optimistic reasons. Sponsored by Hometown Yoga, Hoppy Hour Yoga takes place on Rosa Parks Square. It is an hour-long class followed by a gathering at the Craft Beer Tap Room across the street. It usually brings up to 100 yogis (although the heat of this week seemed to have deterred a few). It’s a great experience, where friend and stranger gather to share in each other’s practices. The instructors love to entice us to reach out and support our neighbor in their poses and to advantage of being outside: all the sounds, the breeze, the little bugs that stop by to tickle your nose.

Another totem of Hoppy Hour Yoga, and really any class taught at Hometown Yoga, is that each class usually comes with a story and an intention. Monday’s intention was to “Be Mindful.” Our instructor, Megan, encouraged us to be mindful through our practice by maintaining our breath and listening to our body in each pose, but she also encouraged us to maintain that mindfulness in our daily lives. We should never just simply allow ourselves to go through the motions of living. We need to take the time to appreciate all that is within us  and around us from the beat of our heart to the smile of a coworker.

As I biked to the vigil after yoga, I took this idea of mindfulness along with me. Although it was a somber moment, with a mindful viewpoint I could make some positive observations. I was mindful of those around me: the group was a mix of the elderly, college students, children. Attendees came from every race and every income. Many were members of the LGBT community, but just as many were not. A small baby with a rainbow sweatband around her plump arm crawled among the grass, under the watchful eye of her two mothers. An old black woman reached for the hand of an old white woman as they sat on the stones framing the area. I was mindful of the sounds: the laughter of the crowd, the nearby tennis players, the fountain, the birds, the cars, the buzz of the world. I was mindful of the smells: a nearby grill, the candles, the earth. All of this mindful contemplation created an appreciation in me like no other. As we stood there in solidarity, mourning the lives of those lost, I appreciated the opportunity I had to be there to be mindful and to experience everything and everyone in my presence.

I took a red rose from a basket in the front, laid it across my handlebars, and peddled back home, glad I took part in this event and thankful for my community.

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