By Susan Jacobs
As a white, middle class woman born and raised in New York City, I’ve lived a privileged and sheltered life, although world travelled. Surrounded by multiple cultures, skin colors, languages, religions, and artsy fartsy creative types, I attended the United Nations International School from age 10 – 17, where some of my closest friends were Muslims, Arabs, and others from around the world. My high school graduation was in the General Assembly of the United Nations, and we could listen to the ceremony in pretty much any language.
Mix that cultural, global diversity and viewpoint with the energy and creativity of New York circa the 1970s, and 80s, and myself and those I knew just thought this was how the world was. It was our normal.
My travels have predominantly been international, with very little interest in getting to know this country. I’ve always flown over the middle, favoring the coasts, with virtually no on-the-ground experience in Middle America. With many friends from places across the country, they migrated to New York so developed a different perspective. It’s not so easy to be in this city with myopic vision— everywhere you turn, you experience diversity. And for the most part, it’s always worked here.
I took for granted all that was happening in the hearts and minds of those in Middle America, or actually worse, I never gave it any thought. After all, what impact could they possibly have on my happy life? I grew up in a bubble filled with tolerance, acceptance, inclusive thinking, compassion, peace, and love.
Wake-up call. Election 2016.
Complacency smacked me and millions of others in the kishkes as my mom would say in Yiddish.
So now, as so many others are also experiencing, I’m faced with two strikes against me. As a woman, while my body may be my temple, in the eyes of certain others, I shouldn’t be allowed a say in how I use or treat it. As a Jew, well anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head just blocks from my home turf in Brooklyn where a playground was spray painted with swastikas.
As my online dating profile says, I’m spiritual, not religious, but now, it’s time for me to be loud and proud of my Polish Jewish heritage that goes back to family being extinguished in the Holocaust. I won’t stand in the shadows and pretend to be anything other than what I am.
By nature, thankfully, I’ve always been an optimist, giving people the benefit of the doubt, believing in the greater collective good and basic innate human decency. Even when life presents people, situations, and obstacles to challenge me optimism, I can find my way back home.
Every morning, I look at Yogi Bhajan’s picture on my altar and wonder what he would think about our world today, the impact we’ve had on the environment and on each other. What would he say about the global connectivity and how technology is being used for both good and bad? How would he advise us to love our neighbor and heal any wounds, scars, and divide?
Yogi Bhajan says,
“Mankind is still seeking to find the peace within so it can have peace without. There shall not be peace in the world if there is no peace in the heart of the man. There is not going to be peace in your heart if you do not understand and experience your very relationship with your soul.”
For decades I’ve been on a journey to find, accept, own, and love the truth of all that I am—the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.
Spiritual teachers have shown up just in the nick of time, and been there to provide the tools I needed to go deep and face myself with a massive magnifying glass.
It’s often sucked seeing what I discovered, but I had an outlet to release all that was revealed be it through yoga, meditation, martial arts, screaming, punching pillows, breathing, having fantasies about doing things that scared me but always knowing how to come back and get grounded, or just good old fashion retail therapy, dark chocolate, or Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.
These tools, my very own survival kit, have helped me experience moments, some fleeting, others prolonged, of inner peace. And my, is it a blissful state of being; the ultimate high that leaves you wanting more.
So how do we help those who are unaware that inner peace even exists, who don’t know it’s possible to achieve a state of tranquility by getting quiet and going deep within? And how do we expand the awareness that finding comfort in discomfort is part of the journey to an elevated state of being and not something to be afraid of or run from? How do we let those that are so churned up inside understand that doesn’t have to be their normal?
I don’t know the answer so I turn to Yogi Bhajan who says,
“Do not let your calmness go. Do not let your peace of mind go. The majority of the world is living in a terrible fear. Nobody knows what is happening. There's too much information available to process. Just feel, within yourself, content and satisfied, peaceful and unique.”
My sheltered bubble may have burst, but I hold onto the hope and belief that positive collective change is possible; that peace, love, and understanding shall prevail.
Perhaps our greatest tool here, now, is to go deep to find and sustain our own inner peace and pray that it will have a ripple affect through all whom we encounter and through the invisible energetic fibers that connect us all.
Giving voice to things that matter is the heart and soul of who Susan Jacobs is and what she does. Susan is a writer, storyteller, strategist, and world traveler. With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, communications, and business experience, she works helps clients stand out in the marketplace. Susan is a published author and contributed to the book "Pain, Purpose, Passion: That Was Then, This is Now" and the upcoming, “Step Forward and Shine.” She has a book publishing deal with The Round House Press and is working on her first memoir. She is a contributing blogger for Huffington Post, Yogic Living, Thrive Global, and Identity Magazine, and her writing has appeared in FourTwoNine Magazine, Extreme Sailing Series Official 2018 Guide Magazine, Aquarian Times, Spirituality & Health, PR Week, and IndieWire. She has traveled extensively and prefers off-the-beaten-path places that require a passport. Find Susan at www.bluezanconsulting.com