I’ve been pondering many things lately besides yoga, meditation and mantras. I’ve been reflecting on how to stay positive in a negative world, how to stay informed when the news wants to harp on and on about the same old same old, how to not worry about bombings over there in Syria and shootings here at home. I have good news and I want to share it with you.

Recently Carla and I went to a luncheon. This was no ordinary luncheon. This meal centered around women who need help. These women are not pondering yoga or mantras much less meditation. They are desperately searching for shelter, maybe even food and definitely a way back home, a new home and a new start. Carla and I heard stories about women who have persevered against unbelievable odds. The Center for Transforming Lives strives to help women in poverty to gain new skills, renew their confidence and a find a sense of direction.

These women, just like us, need a sense of belonging. Do you remember my first blog? I wrote about how Carla set up the studio for us. Premier is much more than a place to get fit. It is a community of women and men who come together. Why? Because we all need to belong to something bigger than ourselves. We need a place to feel less anxious and more connected. You feel great after a class because of the release of endorphins but you also feel a sense of belonging to a community. And that is what we all want and need.

“Feeling like we belong — to ourselves, to others, and to our country — is something we all need to feel less anxious. Belonging is calming. Belonging is powerful. It’s at the root of our being. To belong is to feel safe. It’s about being accepted and cared for. It’s about being at home in a family, in a community, and in a country.” Maria Shriver, from a recent post in her Sunday Paper, a blog and so much more.

Belonging is calming. Belonging is powerful. It’s at the root of our being. To belong is to feel safe. It’s about being accepted and cared for.

~ Maria Shriver

I have been teaching yoga at the homeless shelter for the past seven months. I teach Karma Yoga because I want to help women in need. My goal is to give them tools for better health but it goes farther than that. I want the women to see how a yoga class can create a sense of community. I want to bring self-awareness to a deeper level as these women connect with their mind, body, spirit and each other! My agenda is that as they transform their lives they know that belonging is powerful and helps to ground us. The women at the shelter amaze me. They each have unique stories but they all crave the basics, peace in the midst of a storm, tools to guide them and a healthy path to follow. We are no different! The only thing that separates us is that we have a home and they don’t! We all pay bills, worry about the future, fight anxiety and desperately need a sense of belonging.

So, what is the answer to fighting anxiety, homelessness, depression…..?

I can share a few things that I have observed with my own friends and the women at the shelter. We all need to take a break from social media and the need to compare ourselves with the Instagram moment. We all need a break from the troubling news and must find stories that inspire, encourage and remind us to be kind, compassionate people. We all need to clean up our corner of the world and live by the Golden rule or The Four Agreements. Carla, myself and the other teachers at the studio are not heroic or anything special. We just want to share our knowledge, our life and our love so that you have a sense of belonging; belonging to a movement of sisters, and brothers, who feel good about themselves emotionally and take that love into the world.

If you are old enough, do you remember the coke commercial jingle “I want to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony?” Well, we all know that a soda can’t do it, yoga is a powerful tool but LOVE is the answer.

My good news is three-fold: Check out Maria Shriver’s online Sunday paper. Read her essays and let her journalistic team relay stories of heart felt love and triumph. Also, I want to encourage everyone to stay connected to a group. Whether you are homeless or live in a mansion, stay connected! Let a sense of belonging be one of the tools you have in your bag to ground, guide and settle you. And finally, give love away — a kind word at work or a generous check to a worthy cause. These are all just suggestions to help you in a troubled world.

Grace and Peace,
Zella