Engage the Chaos


The messy chaotic business we call Life is not meant to be avoided,

but is meant to be deeply engaged.  

When the request for field trip chaperones for my daughter's third grade class came through, I signed right up - wanting to be more of a presence in the school and in her classroom.  When I showed up to drive, one of the other mothers said to me: "Who is in your car? and Are you scared?"  Then it dawned on me, I was assigned the child who regularly comes back from field trips and the playground with concussions and broken bones.  Driving to the field trip was straight up chaos - from boys climbing over the seats, to wedging themselves between them, to refusing to wear seat belts to screaming at the top of their lungs.

 It was so far away from my quiet little world of yoga and introspection that I thought: Right, THIS is why I never sign-up for these things. But then I had to remember, THIS is what I signed up for, not some idealized version of the field trip where all the children sit like zombies staring out the window reciting lines of poetry.  This is real.  This is life.  If I'm going to participate, and be involved, not watching from the sidelines, THIS is what I am participating in.   

Chaos is not something to remedy but something to participate in.

- Dr Douglas Brooks


Often we think that it is our job to fix everything in life. We think we must clean up the chaos.  And, when we find ourselves unable to do so - and that the magic pill of just behaving a particular way or doing enough meditation or yoga doesn't work - the temptation is to run away and hide or to redouble our efforts and work even harder at what is essentially a losing game.


Life is chaos!  There is so much chaos and so much beauty in real life.  There is so much chaos and beauty in being human.  It is not your job to fix the chaos.


You do not have to fix everything today.


No. You do not have to stop the chaos.  Your job is to engage it.  To ENGAGE with life.  And at the very very least try not to make the chaos worse.  At the best, see if you can make it a tiny bit better.


The practice of yoga invites a deep turning inward to know oneself, and to build relationship with Self.  All is well and good, especially if you live your life in a cave or on a mountain top.  But the reality is that most of us live life as householders.  We live in a world that is constantly changing and with other people who are also constantly changing.  It happens in the Macro of society and it happens in the mirco of my single household, the micro of my single mind.  A yoga, or set of practices that only instruct us to turn away and turn inside has the possibility of driving us away, out of the world.  It has the possibility of withdrawal and disengagement.  Instead of more fullness, there is a quiet loneliness.  


When you engage with life instead of turning away from it you get to see all of the messiness.  It isn't always easy, and it definitely isn't always fun.  But, there is the possibility of your making a difference in some tiny way.  There is the possibility of you making a real human connection with someone, there is the possibility of you bringing more value and beauty into the room.  There is the possibility of avoiding some unnecessary chaos (drama).  


Now is the season of up- leveled chaos.  It is tempting to want to run and hide from it.  It is tempting to want to control how the whole season will go and how everyone including ourselves will act at every event.  Instead, rest back enough to allow the chaos to happen.  You do not need to control the world.  And, step up enough to be of use, to be of service. Step up enough and Engage with the world you have built around yourself.   

You don't have to be perfect, just try to keep it together a little bit and be an asset, not a liability wherever you are. - Douglas Brooks


Engage the Chaos in a meaningful way and watch your world shift inside and out.



Inspired by Dr. Douglas Brooks' comments

at the Tantra Yoga Immersion at Kripalu

April 27 - 30, 2017