I wrote this post in August, but for some reason never actually published it. I guess now is as good a time as ever!
It’s hard to believe this three week course has come to an end. What an incredible journey it has been: inspiring students from all over the world who have influenced me to challenge my assumptions and opinions; practitioners, academics, and activists who have made me revisit my personal code of ethics and make sure I know what my values are and why they are so important to me.
I feel truly honored to have participated in this program, however, I am currently so overwhelmed by all that we have learned and experienced that it’s hard for me to pick something specific to write about here. Instead, I think I’ll return to the two things that have helped ground me throughout this entire course: yoga and singing.
While at Mt. Madonna, I snuck away from the group several times to pass quiet moments in the yoga shala. On one such outings, I began to sing some of my favorite songs. One that seemed appropriate at the time is a song called “Beautiful Day,” by India Arie. I made a recording of the song on my phone while in this peaceful place and you can click the link below if you would like to listen to it.
This is a song that I often sing when I’m stressed out, but in this particular instance, I began to reflect on my most common theme this class: my abundant privilege. One: I’m sitting alone in a peaceful yoga studio at a retreat center in one of the most stunning parts of California. Two: I happen to be at this retreat center as part of a course for my master’s degree in development practice and policy. Three: I’m singing a song about how I can make any day beautiful simply by choosing to open my heart and mind to the lovely things in and around me (a choice that is perhaps/probably not available to people who are constantly bombarded with violence or oppression). Four: I could go on and on and on and the point remains the same. Most people do not have the opportunity or time to improve their surroundings by positive thought. I believe we must already be in a zone of heightened privilege in order to do that. I know that this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue to embrace my optimistic nature and attempt to see things in a positive light, but I do need to better understand why/how I am able to do this.