{Nature Reflection} The Ants Go Marching


Recently in my outdoor meditation, (Sit Spot), I’ve been watching hawks.  They are spectacular and have a brood of new babies who are currently learning to fly.  They’ve been so fun to watch because they are large and commanding.  When they are there all of the other critters pay attention.  When the hawks are on the hunt everyone else goes into hiding.  When the hawks are in the trees, everyone else sounds the alarm.  You can’t miss them.  They make a big noise.

I’ve been feeling like I’ve had to make a big noise lately to get yoga teacher training up off the ground.   I’m engaged in actively marketing this training in a way that I have never done before.  And interestingly, I have been turning to my Sit Spot practice as a guide for navigating the process.

Today, the outdoor scene was different.  Today, as I asked nature for guidance on my next step for the training there were three hawks.  But as soon as I set foot outside, they flew off and I didn’t see or hear them for the rest of my sit.

It was a boring sit. 

I’d almost come to the end, and was feeling rather disappointed at not having been given any guidance.  (Arguably, the guidance could’ve been: Do Nothing)

Then I looked to my right and down.  On the ground beside my cushion was a long full double row of ants.  Tons and tons of ants.  I could neither see the beginning of the line or the end, only that it stretched far out into the grass and beyond the tree behind me.  Each ant was carrying a tiny piece of something.  It’s own tiny little offering to the health of the colony.

Taken by itself, that one little piece of food would not make a difference next winter.  

But with each piece all coming together the colony will stockpile enough to take care of itself.  Watching the ants for the last few minutes made the sit not boring at all but a huge teaching moment.

They reminded me of one of the most well known teachings of yoga found in The Bhagavad Gita:

“No effort on this path is ever wasted”   

It is a hopeful message that even the smallest of efforts does make an impact.  It isn’t lost.

For me it was the reminder that I don’t always have to look up to the big flashy things.  I don’t always have to make a scene.  Sometimes the work is in the consistent tiny efforts -- that even those tiny little efforts build up into something more.  

In this culture, where we are always being asked to make a scene, push beyond boundaries, and stand out in some way it is easy to forget that small moves are important too.  That for our own health and the health of our communities and families the small but consistent moves to be not a bigger person or personality but a better person (kinder, gentler, open-hearted, more attentive, more awake) are the efforts that make more of a difference in the long run.   And when we find those other people who are doing the same thing, our small efforts are magnified.  When we do this kind of heart-opening work with others we reach a tipping point into sustainability.  My tiny effort may not feel like much, but when I make the attempt again and again to be more open-hearted with my children, and my friend does the same with her children, and another friend the same... we are slowly changing the world.  If nothing else we are weaving a web of support for our community to be ‘better’ than before.  

As I look forward to the fall and the start of the training this is my hope.  That the work I am doing by offering the training, by teaching, more importantly by living with as open a heart as I can manage will transform and support the lives of the people I am with.  And so, it will transform my community little by little.

And for you, may you know that your efforts are enough.  May you trust that by efforting in your own small way toward a more open-hearted way of being that you support the rest of us as we grow something larger together.  Nothing is lost, nothing is wasted.  Make the effort to bring your offering, place it beside my own and let us build community together.