Original Date: May 26, 2015
image from www.fairfieldcitizenonline.com
The following was written by one of my Teacher Training Students, Saadia Gomez. Saadia is a nurse at the VA Hospital in White River Junction, VT, and soon to be graduate of Myriad Yoga Teacher Training. She holds a unique perspective on this holiday weekend, as she serves those wounded from battle. She shared this piece with me, and I offered to share it on my blog, as she expresses a valuable sentiment for the long holiday weekend. Leave a comment, and enjoy.
Memorial Day; A Nurse’s and Yogi’s Perspective
This weekend means different things for different people. For some, this is a long weekend to enjoy with family and friends. For others, this is a time to remember lost friends, lost family, and other unspoken tragedies. As a nurse at the VA, every day is a reminder of brave men and women that have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that our country and our loved ones are safe. These men and women carry the constant reminder of their service with them. Some of these reminders come in superficial manifestations such as scars and deformities. Some of the reminders are deeper, as the wounds run deeper than the flesh. And for some, they’ve never left the service; either mentally reliving it again and again, or maybe physically never leaving the battlefield. With all of this, every veteran that I meet has an undeniable gratitude towards us at the VA. Why is this? After everything they have been through, and/or continue to go through, why do they still thank us with hopeful eyes and kind words, even if we are lacking?
As a nurse especially, because we are caring for people all day long, we can easily become overwhelmed and frustrated when we meet unkind individuals. So how can we shake this overwhelmed feeling? How can we reach down inside ourselves, and allow empathy to flow from us to all beings? This is not just about being compassionate towards veterans, but also how can we take this day to learn how to be compassionate towards ourselves and others?
Let’s take a moment to look at ourselves objectively. Start with what you do as a profession. Why do you do this? Why do you make this sacrifice of yourself day in and day out? It is a choice that you’ve made so that you can take care of your family, or because you enjoy taking care of people, or because you enjoy interacting with people, or because it gives you a sense of purpose. Whatever the reason maybe, you have made sacrifices of your time with family and friends, maybe you have devoted your education towards this, maybe you arrive early and leave late to ensure that you are being fair to your coworkers or customers, maybe you skip lunch to ensure that someone else eats. There are many ways that you make sacrifices on a daily basis to ensure that others are taken care of. Why do we do this? It’s because we all have it in us, we are all capable of compassion. Take a moment to recognize the ways that you make sacrifices on a daily basis, and commend yourself for this.
Next, let’s think about our families. What has your family sacrificed for you, so that you can be happy? Was your education paid for? Do you have a part time sitter for your children? Are you welcome at their house anytime, no questions asked? Do you always have a good listener on the other line? Did they drive you to sports practices or dance lessons? Did you always have a meal on you plate? Does your family bug you during the holidays, eager for an excuse to see you? Take a moment to recognize what your family has sacrificed for you, and notice a gratitude growing in your heart.
Lastly, lets direct our attention to the people we share this world with. As a culture, we experience people that we don’t know, as separated from us. We are doing what we do, they do what they do, let’s have minimal interaction, right? For example, take the person in line at the grocery store. How do you experience this person? Do you experience them with your eyes as you notice their purchases, their clothing choices, or their loud children? What an inconvenience to you, right? Or do you experience them as the patient mother, that isn’t losing her temper at her screaming child? Do you experience them as spending more money on quality food for their family, with less concern for their attire?
Let’s make this Memorial Day something more than just another holiday. Let’s learn from our veterans and treat ourselves and each other with gratitude, as we remember that we all make sacrifices. Let us remember that sometimes people need a good listener, a friendly smile, or a helping hand. Let us remember that everyone is someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, friend, or child. If we can remember these things as we go through our days, we can lift each other up with loving empathy. If we can adopt this practice, then we are respecting the men and women that have sacrificed themselves for our happiness.