This week I set aside my usual prenatal yoga ramblings to honor the victims of the California Fires, especially in Sonoma County. I started my college experience at Sonoma State, and lived in the area for my first few years of college. Watching your old neighborhood be evacuated and getting reports directly from friends who live there is surreal and so very personal. (The fires in Nevada County were a bit personal, too- my parents lived there part time until recently and I did some of my prenatal yoga training in the area at the Expanding Light, part of the Ananda Community connected with my children's school). My heart is heavy.
My yoga practice embodies a couple of elements that are of particular comfort when tragedy strikes. First, be in the moment. Be present for those in need by being present within. Notice the thoughts, feelings, physical sensations that arise and allow them to be, without judgment, without resistance. You never know what life may bring- good or bad. All we have is now. Live in it.
Second, yoga practice doesn’t just happen on the mat. Yoga exists in all that we do with the awareness in how living beings are connected. This is the yoga of right action. If there is one beautiful thing in such a devastating tragedy, it’s how people pause their lives and come together. I have been getting regular updates from friends directly affected by the fires to figure out the best way to help. There are supplies going up to the area to meet immediate needs of evacuees- I know individuals who are making trips and learned that Sports Basement is collecting supplies to be distributed through their North Bay stores. If you would like to donate money (often more effective as items can be purchased in bulk and victims get the the exact items they need), a friend in Santa Rosa shared that Redwood Credit Union is a reliable recipient with all proceeds going to victims. Or, if you want to get more personal, Staci Wolfe is a friend from my college days who lost her home. You can donate directly to her family through their GoFundMe page.
Okay, I just can’t say anything without bringing in a little baby analogy...many parents will have a new baby and everyone they know stops by with a meal, a gift, encouraging words. Then after a few weeks or so, the excitement wears off and nobody is around to help as the family adjusts to real life with a baby. This may happen with the fires, too. Once the fires are out, the tragedy is not over. Families will need support for months, likely years as they rebuild their lives. If you are not sure how to help or where to donate now, you may just hold off for a bit and ask how you can help in another month or two or six. I will be donating and exploring ways to rally support in the months to come. In the meantime, my home is open for anyone seeking shelter from the fires.
For reliable, up to date info on the fires, see Sonoma Fire Info. Stay safe, my friends and neighbors!