I was in Loveland, Colorado at the Path of Love retreat when devastation hit at home. I awoke one morning to see a blanket of pristine white snow on the ground and snowflakes silently falling like angels blessings. It was all so serene and still.

That same day, I was shocked to hear the news that back in California the area around my home town in Northern California was literally burning.  The fire, which had whipped through my area and shattered the community just two years ago was still fresh in my mind. It was unbelievable that much of the beautiful wine country of Sonoma and Napa were being consumed by the fire, burning buildings and homes and leaving almost 100,000 people homeless, 220,000 acres burned and the landscape left ravaged and devastated.

I was grateful that I was spared the trauma that I experienced in the Valley fires just two years ago, although I was sad not to be there to help. I arrived home almost a week later to see the air thick with smoke from the still burning fires and everyone walking around with masks over their faces. I jumped into help offering trauma healing sessions at the shelter.  It wasn’t long before I realized how tired I was from the previous week and now carrying all that trauma in the field.

What I realized is the importance of putting on our own oxygen mask on before we can help others. By taking the time to tend to  our own nervous system we can be a beacon of stillness and sanity in the sea of madness around us. We cannot be of much help in this suffering world if our own nervous system is frazzled and fried.

It is so important to take the time to slow down from the pace the world would have us go at, to listen to ourselves, to remember to eat regular meals and nourishing foods, to take deep breaths to calm and center ourselves, and to remember to ground through our feet many times a day, feeling the earth supporting us. The mind also needs constant training to be still, to stay present and spacious and not get caught up with every thought that wanders by, causing fear and anxiety. For me, my meditation practice each morning is essential. By taking care of this body and my mind, the heart can stay soft and open, knowing when and how to give.

In these uncertain and turbulent times there are many natural disasters and much suffering we encounter all the time, (unfortunately it looks like this is the new normal for us now). The human heart naturally feels this and is called to help as I have seen demonstrated so generously in the recent fires here. We are all so connected, broken and brave souls, trying to find our way. When we put our own oxygen masks on first we can listen for where we are guided to be at any given time, being of service out there, or holding space inwardly. As we quiet our minds from the relentless chatter and clutter of technology, we can calm our own nervous systems and begin to soften and open our hearts to ourselves and each other. By bearing witness to the suffering of the world, we offer ourselves in whatever way we can to the healing, either through our compassionate service and loving kindness or in prayer. As we do this we become vessels of the Divine, loving, serving and remembering who we truly are.

Many Blessings ~ Rajyo