After storms we pick up driftwood on the muddy flats revealed when the tide goes out on Neahkanie Bay. We chip and sand and wood-burn the tall ones with the inscription “Ad Pacem”, Latin, Toward Peace. We call them peace posts and whoever seems to need one ends up with one, like it or not. It’s something to do when you just don’t know how to handle the roughness that seems to be with us these days. There are a few peace posts around town now, out in the country, near water, poking out of the ground, stable for the moment. Just a reminder.
Ad Pacem. Toward Peace.
The storms give us peace posts.
A week ago I flew away from the Pacific, crossed over at least a million of your Minnesota lakes (wondering about driftwood…) and touched down at MSP to attend the SomaYoga Intensive and SomaYoga Clinical Techniques Intensive at Tula Yoga & Wellness in St. Paul.
Like a very rough piece of driftwood, I first washed up on the shore of Tula’s front door two years ago when I needed a refuge from the sadness I felt at bringing our only child to a college 1600 miles from home. Tula was instantly a place of comfort, skilled support and intelligent teaching unlike anything I had experienced in my 3 plus decades of practicing and teaching yoga. Tula Yoga and the SomaYoga techniques were my peace post. They brought my body, my mind, my emotions and my spirit toward peace, ad pacem. Thomas Hanna teaches that these parts of ourselves are not separate, but one Soma, peace in unity, discord in division. Six visits to the Twin Cities later and as many classes at Tula as I could take convinced me that it was time to immerse myself in these powerful teachings.
And so I arrived and, along with the learners in both intensives, was steeped in an atmosphere and a form of instruction that was supportive, calm, clear, generous, intelligent, and spacious. The days were long, yet the variety, built-in practice, rest, sharing, and break periods made the hours and the week fly by. Sometimes the learning and the practice were exhausting emotionally and physically. But our group was contained in a “Grace Space” and we were assisted in bringing our somas toward peace, ad pacem, again and again. The sharing revealed suffering past and present in the lives and somas of the participants. Together with the group, our teachers Ann and Elizabeth lovingly and skillfully guided us to find our own way back to peace. There was an invisible peace post in the middle of our circle and we were encouraged to find our own within. Like the storms on Neakhanie Bay bring the rough wood for smoothing, our personal storms had brought us opportunities to find new embodied peaceful expression.
Thomas Hanna was a Peace Post. He taught that there is no absolute arriving, no “stability in reality”, but that the storms in our experience, in our bodies, minds and emotions can be helped to move, again and again, Ad Pacem—toward peace. He saw Hatha Yoga as a means for, becoming “efficient, smooth, comfortable, full of peace, not turbulent, unbalanced or distorted.” With Somatics, Hanna gave us practical, detailed instruction on finding peace in our “somas” that we might live well and long and, like him, leave a legacy. The faculty of Yoga North have taken Hanna’s teachings and enriched, refined, and married them with traditions and therapeutic practices old and new. I count myself lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity to participate in the SomaYoga trainings.
Soon I will be flying over those millions of lakes (still wondering about driftwood…) toward the Pacific, back to my own home.. The family peace post will remind me of what I have learned this week: that we can, again and again, return—assist our students, and perhaps all beings everywhere in returning—toward peace, Ad Pacem.