On the year anniversary of attacks by hundreds of trolls against POC Yoga and Rainier Beach Yoga, I felt called to write this love letter:
After the initial barrage last October, I still hear from you one or two times a month through emails or phone calls. I see or hear your words, and I try to see behind them. I wonder who or what is behind those words?
I see your anger first. I have been angry too since we met. I grind my teeth now, my jaw hurts. I have nightmares. I am in debt for the first time in my life. I stopped practicing yoga for most of the last year and some relationships that are dear to me are strained.
I recently went on a silent meditation retreat and found that way down underneath my anger and rage is fear. When I see your anger and rage I wonder if fear is there for you too? When you bring your words to me now I hold your anger and fear, as well as my anger and fear, with tenderness. We are both hurting. I hold our pain with these words before I delete your email: May we be safe. May we be happy. May we be healthy. May we be liberated.
I love your persistence because it helped me find, claim and own my anger. I love your dedication because it created more passion in me for racial justice than I knew I had. I love your anger, fear and outrage because it helped me tap into a deeper level of compassion and empathy inside of me.
Before you, I didn’t think that I experienced hate. Being socialized as female and being in the spiritual world of yoga for 14 years pushed hate into my unconscious. You taught me hate does live inside of me, and I am grateful I found it. I feel a deeper sense of wholeness knowing more of myself now, and I can access deeper healing when I have a more integrated connection to myself.
I love that you brought some of yoga’s problems with racism into the national light, because now more yoga communities are talking about racial justice and oppression, and I did not see this happening as much before you. Thank you.
I love that you brought new people and friends into my life who I never would have met without you. I love that you weeded out some friends who I now know were not my real friends. I love that you helped me to see the incredible amount of support I have to lean on.
Before your attacks I was afraid to work for justice. My whiteness kept me silent, safe and afraid to step out and disrupt systems of oppression. My ignorance about the level of racism in Seattle and the U.S. was shattered, thanks to you.
I even love your shaming because it proved to me something I already believed but now have a more direct experience with. It does not work. Your shaming pushed me to fight even more strongly for what I believe, in rather than to back down.
I also love your intensity. I thought I practiced the “middle path” in my spiritual practice, but I was practicing more towards the extreme of denial, one that loved silence. I thought conflict was not spiritual, and that I should be beyond anger.
This is not the middle path. This last year I learned about the other extreme, of voice and anger and rage. I am grateful to have access to this part of myself, but I do not want to stay in this extreme either. By going to the other end of the spectrum I am discovering a new middle path that includes voice, disagreement, love, compassion, discomfort and courage.
I am sincere in my gratitude and love. If it were not for you I would not be where I am today. I am stronger, more determined and more compassionate than I was before October 7, 2015. So thank you for your part in helping me to evolve into a person who can love even deeper.