• An Open Letter

    from Laura Cherry & AUM Yoga + Satsang

    August 7, 2020


    Dear friends,

    When I decided to add “+ Satsang” to the name of this endeavor in January 2020, I had no sense of how prophetic—or ironic, depending on your perspective—that change would prove. It has been a long, heavy 4 months since our last class was held at the Uptown Shale. To me, those 4 months have felt longer than any 4 months have any right to be. Somehow, eons have passed, and simultaneously, time has frozen solid. I’m still anticipating the arrival of spring, not autumn.

    I have much to be grateful for, and I hope each one of you can say the same. My family, loved ones, and I are all still here, even if we’re a little, or a lot, worse for the wear. Through health scares, personal conflict, psychiatric spurts and fizzles, loneliness, disappointments, acts of kindness, new friendships, grief at the state of our world, the murders of innocent Black lives, the bravery of social uprisings, a love-hate relationship with Zoom, murder hornets...well, I’m fortunate I have my practice.

    It has not been the satsang-filled practice I envisioned at the start of the year. It has mostly been me-myself-and-I, plus the dear souls on the other end of blacked-out video screens while I teach on Zoom. I wonder: what can this teach me? Personally, I have a great love of solitude, and sometimes assume I can get away with more of it than is good for me. This pandemic has shown me in no uncertain terms just how much I need satsang, and how much we all need community. The sad nature of this global crisis is that we lose access to the thing we need most (each other) during this period of fear and uncertainty. And since March, we as a country have become more angry, defensive, and divided than I can ever remember.

    In my own life, I use my practice to strive to see others on a “soul-to-soul” level, looking past superficial differences of the ego and seeing what unites us at the core. I believe this is key to living in compassion with others. However, I do not equate this with spiritual bypassing or colorblindness. Yes, at the very deepest level, I believe we are one. But the bodies we are born into, the cultures we live in, the circumstances of our lives, the systemic injustice already in place at the time of our birth, not only form who we are, but also illuminate a roadmap of injustice and suffering that we are obligated to confront as spiritual beings. And I can think of few environments as conducive to this confrontation as satsang.

    When I was offered the 3rd floor space in the Swan River Mandir to resume AUM, I did not think twice. It was only a matter of working out the specifics so that we can all stay as safe as possible while reuniting.

    AUM is opening in-person, for as long as mandates allow, this Monday, August 10, on the 3rd floor of the Mandir. With appropriate social distancing, there is space for a maximum of five people per class. Read our full COVID-19 protocols here. We are re-opening on a month-to-month basis. As always, everyone is encouraged to attend regardless of ability to pay. Since AUM classes are non-physical, this is a great opportunity to be in the company of others without the discomfort of practicing asana in a mask.

    I am grateful and humbled to be given the chance to re-open this endeavor, which is so dear to my heart. I hope to see you soon!

    With love and gratitude,

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    AUM Yoga + Satsang stands with #BlackLivesMatter and all efforts worldwide to manifest justice, equality, fairness, liberation, peace, understanding, respect, honesty, kindness, and integrity for all beings. AUM recognizes the blight of systemic racial injustice in the United States and elsewhere and is committed to being a part of the solution, not the problem. Our ears, eyes, hearts, and minds are open to discussions about personal experiences of racial injustice, especially as it relates to spirituality and spiritual “industries” and norms, and also suggestions and insights as to what AUM can do better to serve the entire community.

    Om shanti shanti shanti