Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.


Be still and know that I am God.


This phrase runs through my mind every now and again, often unexpectedly, and sometimes in moments of chaos, but especially in those few minutes at the end of class when folks ease their sweaty bodies into some semblance of a comfortable seat, close their eyes and settle in for a brief seated meditation before Savasana.

("Seated meditation" always sounds so fancy to me. Difficult, complicated, advanced. It's really just a few seconds of being still and watching the breath. That's all. Nothing more.)

When I was a little girl in Nebraska, my best friend Emily's house had a bathroom on the second floor that was wallpapered in this very phrase. Psalm 46:10, if you're into old-school Scripture references. I remember loving every excuse that I had to sneak in, pull the door closed behind me, slide my back down the door, and sit on the floor cross-legged, wholly aware that in those few quiet moments, I was surrounded by that calming mantra, repeated, repeated, circling the room in the waist-high border: Be still and know that I am God. I didn't know that it meant anything in particular. I just knew that, deep in my (kid's) bones, it felt right. And in a world that seemed so much about needing to be bright and loud and vibrant and social and strong, there was this strange balm in sneaking into this cool silent room and even for a second feeling allowed to be quiet, still, alone.

Growing up a preacher's kid, I'd heard a verse or two [hundred], and yet, this one had always been one of my favorites. So I guess it was no wonder that years later I ended up being a yogi (and had been all that time, unknowingly, I suppose).

Lately I've taken to remembering that feeling. I rarely use the "G" word anymore, though; even after spending years studying rad, fiery, smart, progressive theologies and finding ways in which "God" didn't have to mean oppressive, life-denying, socially-conservative, Charleton Heston-looking old-time religion, I still cringe reflexively every time I hear it used.

People can shut down pretty quickly at its use, you know, so many having come from various backgrounds in which "God" meant nothing particularly loving or life-giving or even kind. My dear teacher and mentor Rusty, whose Bhakti Flow-style yoga is one of the first I've seen to elegantly incorporate a non-woo-woo sense of the divine, does such a good job of mindfully tempering that electric, potentially alienating nature of the word by always taking great care to qualify it as "the God of your own understanding," and it then feels to me a term much more possible to relax into. In those moments, I'm reminded of radical Episcopalian theologian Carter Heyward, whose use of the verb "godding" suggests our own ability to co-create the divine in the spaces between one another, simply through what Heyward calls "right relationship" — or, in other words, being good and true and authentic and compassionate and kind. Now, if that's "God," then that's something I can really get behind, and hers is certainly a definition that transcends dogma and denomination to get to the real point of loving.

That said, I think this sweet, simple phrase — be still and know that I am God — lies at the very heart of so much of what we do on (and off) the mat. Be still and know that, in spite of all separation, we are part of a greater whole. Be still and know that, in spite of all shattering, we are already complete. Be still and know that, in spite of all uncertainty, we already have everything we need. Be still and know that, in spite of all loose ends, we'll be fine. Be still and know that, together, here, in that stillness, we can co-create something divine.

Even that simple word choice —"know," rather than "hope, or trust, or imagine, or maybe hope someday, or cross your fingers," no, not any of those, but "know" — implies the kind of confident, graceful, grounded certainty that comes with a strong, unfolding, rooted-in-the-real practice of being, really being unquestioningly, in the body.

It's so no-bullshit, really. Like, dude, come on already: just chill out and be still and know, ok?

Be still and know that here, now, in this moment, it is enough. And that "enoughness" feels a lot like "God" or peace or mindfulness or presence or connection or whatever the hell you want to call it.

Right?

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