In this realm we can be hit by a car. That’s why, though I see benefits to having some experience with a wide range of practice, I prefer to concentrate my regular practices to those that are designed to maintain compassionate and serene engagement with embodiment to those designed to renounce, escape, exempt or rise above the messiness, complexity, and, sometimes, trauma of embodiment.
What about you? Perhaps you do not feel any need to examine this question.
Are meaningless without engaged conversation and action. In yoga practice terms, if you’re living in and enjoying the world, practice includes service and giving. Prayer alone is for those who live naked in a cave subsisting on alms.
I took leave in the middle of the day in between working for several hours at home and going into the office for a semi-obligatory office party. It was cold, but it was good people were out. One citizen speaker talked about how she is finding her voice and learning to raise it. Her child needs medical care.
Last week, a co-worker stopped by my office to chat. Not surprisingly, the conversation turned to current affairs, and I voiced my every day growing anger and grief and disgust and commitment to seek more ways to have positive impact. My co-worker essentially responded that as a yoga teacher, she thought I ought to know that I shouldn’t get so upset, things weren’t so bad.
As should not be surprising to those who know me or practice yoga with me or read what I post on social media that I explained that my yoga calls for lucid and engaged citizenship and not escape from challenges and difficult emotions. My co-worker demurred, still wanting her own comfortable silence.
The fateful weekend passed. When I returned to the office this week, I found a note and a cookie on my desk. The note basically said, wow, Charlottesville, I hope you’re feeling ok, I thought you might like a cookie. Without addressing the substance of the note, (my own conflict aversion coming to the fore or perhaps my sense that in this case there was little point in pursuing the conversation further and my co-worker has been a pleasant colleague ), when emailing about another matter, I said merely thank you for the cookie.
I’d thought that would be the end of it, but my co-worker then stopped by to thank me for saying thanks for the cookie, I no longer restrained myself from passionately though tolerably politely articulating what I really thought, including what a privilege it is to be able to have a bakery cookie whether for hunger or comfort.
I can relate to wanting everything to be ok, and I’m really glad I have plenty of food and a comfortable home, but I also believe that with my privilege comes great responsibility, now even more than ever. I seek to be more aware not less. What about you?
Some of the yoga traditions that include a guru lineage believe that a guru can transmit grace (whatever that might mean) through their presence or touch. Back in the days when I was doing my first yoga teacher training, a fellow student asked me whether I had ever received shaktipat? My answer was yes–when I’d had the opportunity to shake hands with William Brennan. He’s not a guru, my fellow student objected. But he is a being of extraordinary grace, power, and intelligence who has devoted himself to the service of our collective well-being and my being in his presence inspires me to show my best light; isn’t that what’s supposed to happen with shaktipat? I don’t think she was ever fully persuaded by my unorthodox reading, but I had no need to persuade.
I found myself thinking about that discussion today, having gotten to shake John Lewis’s hand when he walked through the crowd to speak at day 2 of the people’s filibuster for health care. In the presence of his inspiration, I am compelled to figure out what more can I be doing.
On the Way to William Penn House for Tuesday Night Yoga Practice (with a Detour to Stand with the People’s Filibuster)
The filibuster and related activities, including an interfaith vigil on Wednesday the 28th, continues until Thursday. Details on various Facebook Pages–ACLU, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Move On, and others.
Mostly I will be working during the scheduled times, but I will head over outside of my work day again. Senator Chris Murphy was on his way to dinner with friends from Connecticut who had spent the day doing citizen lobbying–telling their story about why keeping and improving on the ACA was important to them. Senator Murphy said that he’d heard people were outside and felt he needled to at least stop by and connect. He said this is just the beginning, don’t let them tinker and declare a victory if they only deprive 5 or 10 million people from getting insurance; he said keep it up; he’d like to see millions of people coming to D.C. and making their voices heard. I was starting to get caught up in listening and then realized it was time to be at William Penn House.