So there is this continual, crazy, “phenomena” that is always happening in my particular corner of the world. It is not surprising or new. In fact, it seems to happen every single time a major event happens.
“Be the light.”
“The world is always hurting, its up to you to find your peace.”
Honestly, I am so over all of it. The audacity of the whiteness is dripping in to every point of my practice and it is POISONOUS. If you have a curiosity; any inkling that Im speaking truth, keep reading. If you’re already triggered, then please keep reading because I promise it’s the least you could do.
For the point of brevity, in just the last 5 years we have experienced horrendous events. They are not new or surprising but for those new to the “woke” scene they are enlightening. Our current access to real time videos, proliferation of information on social media has both been a God-send and our detriment. Never before have middle-aged white women had access to videos of direct police brutality on people that look like us, than on Tik Tok videos of protests this last summer. Inversely, never have terrorists had the ability to plan attacks in full public view with no ramifications. However, I cannot lie. I have an EXTREME bias. Every single time I step on to my mat (every single day for the last decade plus) I say a prayer that is summarized as “May the leaders of the Earth know it to be sacred. May all beings everywhere be happy and free.” This is after I do a rigorous, active, demanding practice. I pray that others be protected and then I take action, that to most seem daunting and exhausting. The irony is not lost on me. Also, the fact that me, a white woman from mid-western America is doing an ancient Asian practice that has been so bastardized it is almost beyond recognition is also not lost on me. Do I do the action and then do the deed, or do I do the action and then “live, laugh, love.”
Let me come to back to the philosophy for a moment. I absolutely believe in Patanjali’s theory that we are all made of Purusas or Souls and our suffering lies in the fact that we have misidentification with our material bodies. That we believe that this experience, this body is the end all be all. We forget that we are of God, and eternal and Soulful beings. Patanajli, in Ashtanga yoga, specifically offers that the remedy to this suffering, is an 8-fold path with direct emphasis on Self-discipline, Self-Study and Surrender to a Higher Purpose.
So .. self-discipline and self-study are fairly direct, but what is your high purpose? What do you surrender all reasoning to? What is the ONE THING that you would risk *everything* on? For me, it is obvious. And honestly it is insane that it isn’t to other yogis. If we accept that we are all soulful beings, who are all a part of God (also a major contention of almost all world religions) then not a single one of us is different. If my friend is rejoicing, I rejoice. If someone is suffering, I suffer. If someone is being unjustly targeted, murdered and dismissed, how do we reconcile that? How do we then say “LOL, let me just align my chakras and it’s all good.” As a fellow yogi, I need you to tell me you can honestly say that you believe “my hip joints hold trauma and can cause me to irrationally cry in a yoga class” but then get off your mat and say “my brown and black sisters are totally overreacting and they don’t really have it that bad. It really is all just the media trying to divide us.” Do you see how frustrating this conundrum is?
The frustration that I have with my peers that continuously say “We just have to raise our own vibration” or “if I work on me, I’m making a better us” is astronomical. Yes. You need to work on your own baggage, and your own trauma. But that does NOT mean you are done. You work through your own stuff on the mat so then you can go and help those around you. Yoga is a personal path, but if you are wearing blinders the whole time, who does it benefit? Please just go live in a mountain. Then again, at least those dudes taught their ways to others. Your spiritual bypassing/gas lighting is so exhausting. It’s exhausting to those of us that see Yoga as a true healing modality. Not something that is an escapism or retreat from current events. It is not a distraction. It is not something that numbs you. It is something that makes you reflect, and observe and learn to understand. Not dismiss, or ignore. Once I have a clear understanding of myself and my role in the situation I can react accordingly. And I PROMISE YOU .. rich white woman that can afford 30 pairs of Lululemon yoga pants .. your reaction should not default as dismissal or “let me work on me.” Do your practice. Feel strong. Feel connected and compassionate. Maybe reflect that: if I can feel suffering in the 60 minutes of this hot yoga class that I paid for, what can others who can’t afford to feed their babies feel like? Maybe instead of trying to flex on having the latest outfit, you instead donate your money to local charities. Or after doing your yoga practice, you go volunteer at a local non-profit. Or write a well thought-out clear headed letter to your local representative demanding that those that aren’t in your position are still afforded the same opportunity. I’m just saying, from my understanding, and lineage of practice, your asana practice is not the yoga. Instead, the asana is an opportunity for you to reflect and grow and strengthen yourself to best adept to challenging real-world situations. Real world situations like violence, lying and stealing (resources). Literal things that we are directly supposed to be admonishing in an “Ashtanga influenced, we read a few sutras” yoga practice.
Listen, I can only speak from personal experience, but every time I step off my mat I have a sense of strength and purpose. Of not only recognizing the potential to make my day and life better, of not only making my children and loved ones life better, but that I have the strength and bravery to ensure All Beings Everywhere Be Happy and Free. I take the humility, strength and insight from my mat and see the world with compassionate eyes. I can only hope you are doing the work to do the same. Because as much as the world needs us to be “above the social media drama” we still have real human beings who are suffering. And I don’t know of a single enlightened being who saw the suffering of humanity and said “ok but, let me just do me.”