history reminded

I recently went to Africa for the first time in my life, to Dakar, Senegal to be precise. I had been invited to teach a yoga intensive workshop there. But today my intention is actually not to write about this amazing and  most transformative experience, but rather to find a way to express one specific visit on my last day there.
On that last day I went to an island which is located just in front of Dakar. It takes barely 20 minutes by ferry to make it across.
La Gorée.
A tiny piece of land measuring 900 meters at its longest but yet a place so intense and history loaden. As we approached it, I could literally sense a change of spirit. This place if I might tell you, was once one of the slave trading centers of Western Africa.
Even though it is now a quite touristic isle exhibiting beautiful colonial-style arquitecture, its dark side of human history is almost palpable in the air.
I went there with my new friend and she showed me around giving me a most interesting tour. I can’t really say I was enjoying it, as the underlying trend within me tied a knot around my stomach. But very grateful for this experience I tried to take it all in. Until I stood in front of this ruin of what I suppose had once been yet another of the colonial-style mansions. A gate loaded with debris. When I passed it first, I stopped and felt a strong pull towards it, but as my sweet guide was in the middle of a story, I didn’t want to interrupt her and kept following her whilst on our walk of interest. However, I kept feeling that spot.
On our way back, we passed by it again and this time I asked if we could just stop as I wanted to take a closer look and that is when I had this sudden and quite urgent impulse to do ‘Camarkatasana’ (Wild Thing).
First I thought, oh gezz, that is just so inappropriate, but next thing I knew I was in the pose. In the pose pouring out my heart. Maybe the first yoga pose to be expressed there, I knew my little heart had sought a way to send out some love in its very own way.
All of this brought a long forgotten memory back. When I was in my early twenties I had a crush on a guy who came from Trinidad Tobacco. He was sweet, we were just getting to know each other and in that sequence he asked me about my origins. Without any further ado I told him it’s all Portuguese. After that day he stopped calling me and would simply not answer my calls. I was clueless. Until I eventually ran into him again and he apologized for his behaviour, but due to my heritage it was impossible for him to continue to see me. My heritage what? Well, are you talking about the Portuguese once being one of the striking forces in slave trade?

There I was standing, feeling like someone had just stabbed me. Thinking “is he stupid or what?? So what’s that got to do with me?” Well, to conclude, this guy actually taught me one big lesson. We are all intertwined and our actions have impact on sometimes unpredictable levels. There is a choice we constantly are confronted to make of whether we act in a life-affirming and enhancing way or go down that dark alley. What I do today most certainly will have an impact of some sort on tomorrow’s world.

I am not saying that getting into a yoga pose will make up for anything at all, I’m certainly NOT that arrogant, but it was my spontaneous way to spread light. And this just ties back to the tantric teaching of looking for the light even in the densest darkness.

May history teach us to rather step into that source which is love and light.

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