A day of love and healing: Yoga for Peace 2012

The Gong Bath captured by Jessica Labbe

On Saturday, October 13th, Jemesii and I participated in the 5th annual NH Yoga for Peace, sponsored by Yoga Caps, Inc., “a non-profit organization that builds community and wellness by making yoga more available and affordable.” I have been a beneficiary of Yoga Caps for the past year, taking (free) classes from founders Jay and Terry Gupta. Yoga for Peace is their annual fund raiser.

The day opened with some humorous Yoga for Yankees with Fred Marple. Jay led us in some gentle yoga and then we were treated to a Gong Bath. Mats spread across the gym, we lay in savasna, eyes shut and senses wide open as multiple gongs sent powerful waves resounding around the room. You could hear but also feel the vibrations which surrounded and then seemingly passed through our bodies:  bathed in and then cleansed by sound.

The participants then went their individual ways to a variety of workshops and mini yoga sessions: Jem and I tried flow yoga (which proved challenging for me) and were introduced to the concepts of Pranayama and Ayurveda. We also sampled wares from a number of vendors and made notes to ourselves about which classes we would like to sign up for next year.

The day closed with a powerful ceremony focused on healing. Ranjani Saigal choreographed and narrated a traditional dance in the Bharatanatyam style. The piece illustrated a story in which Lord Shiva conquered death and was beautifully performed by Amudha Pazhanisamy. Ranjani’s narration was accompanied by Gaurish Chandrashekher on mridangam and Kavita on Saraswati veena. A tiny clip of the performance from Jemesii’s iPhone:

It was not an easy act to follow, but it was now time for my part in the closing ceremony. I chose to speak about the challenge of accepting a terminal diagnosis, and the necessity of making peace with your body even as you wage war against the cancer.

At the (tearful!) conclusion of my talk, I am seen hugging Jemesii and then Jay. Moments laters Geetha Murali, a renowned Carnatic vocalist, Ranjani, and a third woman (whose name I did not catch) began  108  repetitions of the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. Dedicated recitation of the mantra is said to help one conquer the fear of death. The sustained and rhythmic chanting of three voices in tandem provided a powerful and moving climax to the ceremony.

Jemesii, it meant so much to have you there and I am glad we were able to share this special experience. Jay and Terry, thank you for sharing your vision of love, peace and healing. You enrich the lives of many: I am grateful that our paths have crossed, and I hope to walk beside you for some time to come.

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14 responses to “A day of love and healing: Yoga for Peace 2012

  1. Tearful and proud, I’m sending you my strong hugs!
    Miss you!
    Love, Anja

  2. Wow.
    My thoughts and prayers are always with you.
    Cheryl

  3. Excellent speech. I am certain I read that your initial surgery/chemo were unsuccessful but I did not retain it. (Me too but with chemo/rad.) I look at your surviving years + months a bit differently now. You’re tough.

    • Well missy, so are you. It bites to have your cancer come right back, but at the same time, it means having to adjust to and accept your situation immediately. There are some advantages to that, as all expectations shift. And rather than focusing on a cure, you realize that it is really more time that you want…so, each new day becomes a victory :)

      Linnea

  4. tears in my eyes as I listened and watched you. You and your journey are so powerful and you are such a positive force to so many. Your light brightens my life

  5. I can’t say it any better than Amy’s comment. I am in awe of your beauty, inside and out. What tenacity and wisdom, truth and love, all wrapped together in your talents; I’m so grateful you are taking the time and energy to share your journey. It has enriched my own life.

  6. Wonderful video – I can’t say it better than Amy or Peoplesense, so I’ll just ditto both! Hopefully you give more speeches, you are an inspiration!

    • Thanks DK. I suddenly become quite shy when standing in front of a lot of people; deer in the headlights sort of thing. So I have learned that it is better to just prepare a speech and read it. Not nearly as impressive as those who can speak right off the cuff, but it works in a pinch.

      Linnea

  7. powerful! thank you as always for sharing. Over the last few months I have met others surviving cancer and well eventually talk turns to exercise. Yoga seems popular though I had no familiarity. This was eye opening and certainly I draw little passion from gym equipment. Again, thanks

    • Patrick, you might want to give yoga a try. Keep moving and don’t stop moving–two things that all of us with cancer have to keep in mind. And yoga is a fun and fulfilling way to satisfy that movement requirement!

      Linnea

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