Standing Rock Reflections

By CTZNWELL Leader, Vania Kent

Mother of Mercy,
the cries of the world keep me awake at night.
I rise from my bed, but I cannot locate the source of the wailing.
It is everywhere, Mother, coming from all directions, and my heart is shattered by the sheer intensity of suffering.
You of boundless compassion, expand my heart so that I can contain the pain.
Focus my mind so that I can arrive at viable solutions and energize my body so that I can engage in effective action.
Give me the courage to follow the crumbs of heartbreak all the way home to the place where I can be of real service.
Let me dip my fingers into the dew of your compassion and scatter it now over the fevered brow of this world.
Mother of God, She Who Hears the Cries of the World by Mirabai Starr, from Mother of God, Similar to Fire

The above prayer is keeping me sane right now. The cries of the world have been keeping me up for months, this election season feeling like one long collective wail. Undoubtedly the result of seeing our shadow selves and, rightly, flipping the fuck out. As I prepared to leave for Standing Rock to offer prayerful support and physical presence to the Protectors there last week, I was more aware than ever of the connection between what Leonardo Boff calls “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”, which cannot be separated. Our willingness to destroy the earth, to desecrate sacred land, and to place profits over people is just another manifestation of the same illness that leads to the vitriol, divisiveness, and undisguised aggression toward the most vulnerable in our society that has bubbled to the surface for all to see during this election. The illusion of separateness is killing us all and it is excruciating.

So what are we to do? We follow the crumbs of heartache. We pray for hearts big enough to contain the pain. Our practice is meant for times like this. All the hours we’ve spent on the mat, moving our bodies, breathing, and meditating, has been preparation for us to be bold witnesses of what is unfolding in the American consciousness right now.

We are bold because we do not react to what we see, trying to fix. Instead, we bear witness by listening deeply. We listen for the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and we respond to what that cry evokes in us. We breathe through the discomfort and we listen, without defending, denying, or justifying the ways in which we’ve been complicit. And we return to the heart of the practice, the place where we see, feel, and know our interconnectedness with all beings, especially those on the margins, and the Earth herself.

-Vania Kent is the co-director of Samdhana Karana Yoga in Tacoma WA and CTZNWELL leader who was in Standing Rock last week and will be speaking on Monday’s COP:


On Monday, Vania and others will be joining us LIVE for practice, conversation, and resources for taking actions that support the Water Protectors at Standing Rock.

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