I am so thrilled to revisit the Changemaker Q&A series with a new interview for the month of July! This month’s interview features Kelly Connor Sunrose, a fellow yoga instructor who lives in Portland. I first met Kelly as a student in one of her classes, and then had the pleasure of getting to know her better over the past year. She is an amazing being, and is doing beautiful work in this world. As soon as we sat down for tea last month to dig deep into what I am planning for Rebel Yogi, I knew that I had to share her story with you.
So, without further ado, here’s Kelly!
1. What is the world changing work that you are bringing into existence? (Tell us a bit about what your work means to you and why you think it’s important for the world.)
At this moment in time, what I am sharing is the spirit of exploration and curiosity. I’m sharing an approach that asks rather than answers. This has a way of emerging in all of the work that I do: as a yoga and meditation guide, as an advocate for peace, justice and the environment, as a writer and artist, as a mother.
It is tempting to harden around a sense of knowing. Knowing something ends a discussion, whereas asking or inviting begins one. To live in the spaciousness of mystery is counter-cultural, but perhaps necessary for our survival as a species. Hardening around a particular belief does not allow for community. And we are all in this together.
The work is at once simple, subtle and profound, gross. One thing leads to another and I’m letting myself be marked as I make marks myself.
2. What was the moment or situation that made you realize the way you were approaching this work was unsustainable? And, how did you find your way back to balance out of those challenges?
There was a time when I practiced law and yoga that assumed answers, adhered to a structure I had to follow, but believed to be damaging to most of the people involved with it. At the time, I felt as though real change had to come from within an organization, while respecting its structure. But that really took its toll on me and on my ability to do the work I knew I was put here to do. So for a while, I abandoned it all. I spent a lot of time in meditation. And that was important, but now I’m moving toward a place of integration.
I think allowing the process to unfold is absolutely necessary. Even if we sense that things will wind up a certain way, the unfolding is where life is happening. Jumping ahead to the cymbal crash at the end changes everything.
3. What are you doing differently now – how are you maintaining a balanced place moving forward?
I’m operating outside of “the law” now, in true rebel fashion. The work I do involves mediation, meditation, community radio and connection that makes sense to me. I’m doing the work that only I can do in the only way I can. By fitting into someone else’s mold, I could not do this.
4. If you could give that past self one piece of advice or guidance, what would it be? Or, if you wouldn’t change anything, why not?
I wouldn’t change anything, because the struggles that happened along the way seem important and even necessary. There was suffering, and a lot of it was “needless” in a sense, but those internal engagements brought me to this point; wherever that is!