In the 1970’s there were two television programs, like the "he" and "she" version of the same theme. The Bionic Woman starred LIndsay Wagner and the hero of The Six Million Dollar Man was Lee Majors. Both shows revolved around the adventures of two ex-agents who were still taking on secret jobs. And due to their former careers, both had specialized replacement parts...like an electronic eye, specialized hearing, and both had robotic legs...which allowed Lindsay Wagner to leap and jump, and Lee Majors could run faster than the eye could see. Whenever they needed to use their Bionic parts to catch a thief or the like, an echoing sound-effect would start to play, indicating to the audience that we had a front row seat for the action to come, as the frames of the scene became choppy in a sort of slow-motion sequence so that we could be right there with them whenever Lindsay leaped through the air, or Lee dashed a mile, both at “bionic” speed.
This show is a great example for keeping reality in check n the West. Modern times in the developed world sets us in a bit of "one or the other" thinking, we're either "here or there", if we're here we want to be there and if we're there we want to be here....our mind isn't content to rest in the gap of in-between, and this is where the Bionic Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man excel in that choppy-framed sequence. Being "in-between" or "in transition" isn't a state that we usually define or identify, so it becomes a bit of a hazy phase. We know we feel a level of discomfort, uncertainty, sometimes agitation, but we don't bring enough of our awareness to it to clearly define that we're in limbo. If something's wrong we fix it, something ends we begin something new, we fill the void that Transition feels to be. But Transition is an evolution, it isn't a void, and there's a lot going on in there. It's a very real, very valid and integral aspect of our lives; and we spend a lot of time being in transition...we wouldn't be creating if we weren't in transition.
If we use Yoga Asana as an example, the approach most people take is to envision themselves in (or more commonly, wait for) the next pose; leaving them mostly unaware of the pose they're currently in, and totally unaware of how they're going to get to the next one. Sole desire for the aim blinds us to the transition. Getting to the next pose requires as much involvement and awareness within the transition as the "final form"...transition is as much the pose as is the final form, the poses only act as two bookends for the transition.
Transition is what informs the aim...it informs the health of fulfilling the aim, it informs us of our current capabilities and where we might need to review before we proceed...the transition from one pose to another is hugely significant to our practiice and is what brings the practice to life; the transition is where we breathe. Reaching the pose is actually an end point, birthing the beginning (through breath) of a new transition. The actual transition is the active breath. Observing what we're being informed by while in the transition is what helps us know how close to mastering our aim we are.
We can do so much harm not only to our self but others too, when we try to reach our aim prematurely. Because we're not ready to be at the aim yet. We haven't gathered the information and maturity from the transition. And often, our vision of the aim when it's not yet reached, is being envisioned in advance of the aim actually happening, so our sight sits short of what the real outcome will be because the transition hasn't developed us yet. So when we're pushing toward our aim, let's slow ourselves for a moment and look around at what we might be missing, it could be of value to the aim, and we don't want to have to come back and get it.
Written by Vanessa Webb of Letters In Yoga
Photo by Frank Holleman on Unsplash
Yoga Detox, Cleansing, Purity and Wellness…Many a Yogi enjoys the restorative experience of having spent retreat with Algarveyoga. The fresh clean food, the outdoors, the Yoga Nidra…all enjoyed with good quality people who are full of life. This enriching and restorative focus on overall wellness through cleansing, brings together a harmony within a person’s system; a harmony which the body innately seeks and so responds to with ease when given the opportunity through time, rest, healthy food, and shared in healthy community.
Detoxing, or rather, cleanliness and purity, is a significant aspect of Yoga, it’s an active engagement with the first Niyama of Saucha. Developing the habit of making this Niyama a daily practice can effectively address the five Koshas, or Yogic Bodies…bringing home with you, any healthy changes you made whilst on retreat.
These Koshas, or sheaths, are like layers of ourselves, each layer an independent and active contribution to our wellbeing, yet they’re all connected, each having an influence on the others…they’re either behaving in harmony with one another or having an out-of-balance pull, depending on our habits and routine. When one sheath is out of balance, all others are likewise affected. So awareness of each sheath is integral and inspirational to our health, and implementing a daily scan of each Kosha can help us feel empowered toward our own inner state of wellness; this awareness is an active contribution we can make to our own wellbeing.
Depending on the teaching you come from, these layers are addressed from physical to the most subtle, or, vice versa…but regardless of this, all sheaths embrace the inner Atman, our place of witnessing. The Koshas by layers are: Physical, Vital, Mental, Higher Intellect, and Bliss. Each body interdependent with the others. Caring for these sheaths can be easy once we’re inclined toward a daily awareness of them. The more work we can put in to the lower four Koshas, the more potential for one day resting in the fifth, or the Bliss Body. However, it is sages who are more actively in tune with this body as they have the insight into its subtlety; and therefore, become alert to its development.
The wellness of our Physical Body comes down to “we are what we eat”; we’re built by the very food we eat and the activity of this physical sheath is determined by the wellness of our Vital Body (the second Kosha). The Vital Body is where the Prana of life flows, and how we utilize Prana determines the vitality of our physical body as well as the quality of our Mind Body. This Mind Body is the lower mind, the monkey mind, and is linked to the physical by the vital…so you’re beginning to see the significance here, no? To breathe properly and fully through the body, to restore vitality brings a calmer mind, one that is less influenced by the harried exterior of life, and more capable of being guided by the insightful wisdom from the Intellectual Body. The more insightful our studies, the more willing we are to submit the distraction of the lower mind to the higher mind; and, reflecting on and implementing what we learn, the more at ease is the lower mind. The lower mind is very susceptible to input, so the more we can create a quality environment for it to learn in, the more amenable it is to learn the right things and therefore work for us rather than against us.
So you see, retreat with Algarveyoga isn’t simply a vacation, the environment of wellness and uplifted energy is restorative to your very being on all levels. If we can address the five Koshas (or Yogic Bodies) daily, even after retreat, we begin to notice the power of the Witness Self affirming a greater inner peace, and we bring a completeness of wellness to our whole being.
written by Letters In Yoga with Vanessa Webb, in gratitude to Algarveyoga
Photo by Katherine Sousa on Unsplash
The Ocean of Consciousness within the human heart is second only to Agni (Fire), and stands ahead of the Consciousness of Darkness (or, the intelligence of silence). These are the three Oceans in which we're birthed. Can we rest in how precious that is...
Rest in it long enough to wonder: When there is love have we said first, I will not harm you when I love you?
Our human love longs for recognition, this longing brings with it frailty and brokenness. Yet deeper than that, in the Ocean of the Heart Consciousness, the giving of love is inborn in our Being. It doesn't host that need for recognition from another, yet we are not at peace when we have nowhere for it to flow.
Leaving the key behind and thinking for two, the mind decides that if love is going unrecognized, then it's best to pack the heart in a box and bring it up to its own attic for safekeeping, in storage with the old relics it has also entrusted itself with. Placing it alongside things that have been there long enough for webs to build and dust to collect in their weaving.
No matter how many years that boxed love endures that attics' sweltering summer heat and winter chill, it is forever young on that grace filled day when it tumbles down those attic steps while we were up there looking for something else.
The heart’s kingdom is vast. It's in a realm of no-time. And it's in a realm of regeneration. When love has tumbled back to the heart’s domain it lands like a person coming in from an exhilarating walk in the wind. We're transported to a realm that the mind claims not to exist.
The heart has its own voice; and when it's kept clear, swept of dust and clutter, freshened by an open window, the attic of the mind can and will hear the heart's words, and it will respond lovingly and kindly. It will find strength from love that flows because it has no opportunity then, to impose its frailty.
The Ocean of Consciousness of the Heart can carry a million stars and a million wounds, still leaving us able to stand strong beat after beat after precious beat.
This is how miraculous we are.
Will I harm you when I love you.
*this was originally posted to Letters In Yoga
Recently, I led a class where, as a group, we discussed Asteya (the 3rd Yogic Yama of non-stealing). When leading classes on the Yamas, I like to consider the antidote to each…in this case, our own value and what we genuinely contribute to the world. The more firmly rooted we are in the knowing of our own value and what we have to offer means that we naturally have no orientation toward “stealing”. Our class conversation took shape around the concept that we’re born into Oneness, as infants we’re still harmonized with that from which we came. As babies, all our needs are met without question…we’re hungry then we’re fed, we’re tired then we nap, we need a bath and we’re bathed. Our whole world however small at that time, is oriented toward our own needs and we hold no concept of lack.
However, beginning very young, experiences start popping up, experiences that bring a subtle yet dawning awareness of an “other” and suddenly, we’re experiencing all that’s impermanent in life because we’ve become aware of material consciousness. This movement of Prakriti is perceived pretty early on in life…and it brings with it a new knowledge of that which is “changeable”, that which is an “other”. These experiences that bring us there are subtle, and perhaps not particularly memorable, but they build on one another; and I wonder, is this awareness of “other” meant to happen? So many people want to reach Moksha or Nirvana as though it would be an achievement, seemingly identifying at all with Prakriti as a bad thing, but the very want to reach Moksha is Prakriti itself. This movement of Prakriti is natural, and it is also seemingly necessary as it seeps in to our development by nature. Prakriti is what is necessary to draw us back to the Brahman, that Oneness we were born experiencing, they are two sides of the same coin. Are these experiences meant to be a way of leading us away from Oneness so that we can learn what Oneness is, and then exercise our free will back toward that.
The problem lies not in Prakriti itself, but in what we’ve done with Prakriti in our systematized modern culture. The system of society is structured in such a way that, it grabs this young, new awareness of “other” and runs with it. That open vulnerability of being in such a new awareness is immediately bombarded with media images and surrounds that tell us how much we need. And, being so young, experiencing the tenderness of a new awareness, we’re not emotionally or mentally developed enough to fend off the onslaught…we just keep up and grow up into a belief that we are Prakriti, and the result is that general inner sense of lack. If we could have reached a level of maturation mentally and emotionally in the quiet of traditional values first, learning the observance of Prakriti, we may not have had the vulnerability of being force-fed lack. Our group came to see how complex an issue Asteya really is in our world…it is so multi layered and multi faceted…in both tangible and intangible ways. As Asteya is so awareness oriented, it cannot stand on its own, the awareness needs to come from our work done with Satya, which helps us perceive Prakriti hopefully with some intelligence. And so, it seems, Asteya isn’t necessarily so action-oriented itself, but is instead the mindfulness of value and truth in hopes of bringing about right-action, depending on what we choose. Just food for thought.
--originally posted on Letters In Yoga
**image credit: By Khokarahman - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37528449
I was considering "hope" after having read an article that described “hope” as a false experience that we’re all being fooled by. Feeling more like a defiant Charlie Brown in my response (head tossed back, with all that's left to see is his blip of a nose and tears squirting out the sides of his face) than wanting to accept this, I asked the article in front of me: “What are you talking about? Sometimes I feel like hope is the only thing I’ve got!”. So I dropped this notion altogether.
But the next few days kept bringing it to mind and it led me to question whether “trust” or "faith" is a higher form of “hope”?
Jumping tracks before coming full circle, let's consider the hummingbird. They can migrate distances of up to 2000 miles, and I'm sure the weather isn't all clear through every mile. But they know, they know where they need to be and they know they'll get there. A hummingbird doesn't consider that it will need "trust" for its journey because it already IS trusting, it's already at one with trust, and it moves forward from there. A hummingbird is so united with trust that his skills of discernment are developed in the way that takes him there. Trust for the hummingbird isn't something to gain or acquire or learn, it just is. It's simple, like everything else that is Truth.
Hummingbirds don't complicate decisions with fears of whether making a slightly eastward or westward curve on its way south will be right or wrong. He doesn't pack it in then, becoming overwhelmed with indecision. He doesn't mount fears and doubts on top of his trust so as to confuse himself. He just trusts, leaving it for what it is, accepting it as it is in its simplicity, instead of making a convoluted mess of decisions.
So it's not trust that's the issue, it's the garbage heap of indecision we pile on top of it that's the issue...that's what separates us from trust...and that's what leaves us clinging to "hope". So things are more a matter of, how willing we are to release what separates us from trust, let go of grasping that wall, and question whether we're actually feeling entitled to keep holding that wall as a justification not to trust. It's not easy, so this is not flippant, but the choice is really ours. Are we able to quiet that questioning and uncertainty of the mind enough, to connect with trust...to choose trust more frequently over the indecision, as our way to connect with the trust that is already inside of us?
I drew a similarity from Santosha (which is Yoga's second Niyama of Contentment). When we come to experience Santosha, we understand and accept the difference between “happiness” and “contentment”. Happiness being a somewhat fleeting feeling because of its dependence on an outer experience; whereas contentment is an inner state of being that isn’t reliant on what is happening outside of us. Contentment is stable, it’s balanced, and it’s ours…whereas the highs and lows of happiness means it’s never really ours, we’re dependent on an outer source to fulfill it. Likewise with "hope", it can string us along a bit.
But do we prefer to hope? It's a little bit easier than trust, isn't it? We can shine it up and think that we're happy there. But when we hope, we’re not really trusting. The safety-net of hope is that it will still accommodate our personal sense of control (that "wall" I mentioned previously). And this really only puts us half-way there. Trust on the other hand, means we’re all-in: “I’m here and I’m ready” (harking back to that same active waiting I referred to in October’s newsletter). So if we don't rely quite so heavily on hope, and aim instead for trust, we naturally arrive at contentment. A big deal, right? We’re squeamish around trust simply because of that surrender of control it requires. But let's be like the hummingbirds; I'll meet you out on the brilliantly flowered field of Trust.
“Hope looks forward. Faith knows it has already received and acts accordingly.” — Florence Shinn
*originally posted on Letters In Yoga
* image credit: Ray Hennessy rayhennessy [CC0]
Trust that life loves you
…even when your reluctant mind refuses to believe it
Trust that life wants the best for you
…even more than you do
Trust that you will be guided
…even without all your fussing over hearing it “right”
Trust that life is smiling at you
…even when you believe with your whole self that you’re alone
Trust that life will buoy you and sustain you
…even when your pockets are empty
Trust that life holds a light for you and responds to your deepest inquiries
…even those ones that you can only share with the stars
Trust life’s presence in your ups and downs, in all the challenges and glories
…that presence that remains through all that will pass
Trust life’s loyalty to you
…even when you swear you’ve been betrayed
Trust those feelings of humility that come when your sanity comes back around again
…and you see that Life never left you
Trust that life is what you can count on more than any other thing
…even when you've made your oath that this is indeed the time that you’re throwing in the towel
Trust that life will be there in the end
…even when you’re too weak to even stand up for now…remember, it’s just for now
Remember to read something inspiring
Remember to think, and remember to feel
Remember your own brilliant light
Trust that life knew your name even before you knew it yourself.
Trust that life will show up as those finest moments of Grace
Trust that you would never know the strength of who you are without any given challenge
Trust that with life and only with life, you do know how to do this
Trust yourself enough to slow down, and to hear those decisions made from such a centered inner space
Trust yourself to be able to learn to use that inner voice
Trust your strength of compassion
Trust those feelings of generosity
Trust what you have to give to this world even if you haven’t defined it yet
Trust in the power of your presence of who you are
And remember, that your own soul has a voice and you’re the only beloved one who truly needs to hear it.
--Letters In Yoga
Sweeping the front walk, getting our hair trimmed, watering the houseplants, and having our daily shower, are all elements of Saucha. We can even begin to experiment with organic vegetarian diet, or a seasonal cleanse of the body…Spring-cleaning of the house in fact, is a deeper ritual of freshening up and lightening up. These symbolic actions of Saucha (the first Niyama of purity) toward a lightened, healthy body and mind leads to the deeper experience of the quality of Saucha. Its quality of purity makes this a Niyama that settles in and permeates us and our way of life, more than it is something to practice.
As we grow increasingly familiar with its quality through our more symbolic actions, Saucha starts to find its own deepening path within in us, and it becomes a very intimate experience. When we choose to live clearly, purely, we meet ourselves in a different way; we’re meeting ourselves and our life honestly, meaning we meet it in the moment. We may have been living our lives for fifty-two years without realizing that we’ve never really made contact with the life we’re living. And we can feel kind of mind-blown when we realize this.
The way we breathe is a beautiful indicator of where we’re really living. Rapid breathing, shallow breathing, belly breathing, are all transmitting information that we’re obliterating the present moment with tensions from the past that we’re not letting go of, or a future we’re anticipating. Like the breath, Saucha leads us to feel into our very honest selves, and there is no hiding there (which ends up being a good thing). In contrast to the endless flow of distraction, the present moment can feel like a blunt awareness, because it will instantly reveal to us the nature of our mind. It shows up in the squeamishness, it doesn’t take years of therapy to feel it. Our myriad tendencies and reasons for living in either time-warp of “future” or “lagging behind” (or both, in some cases) come tumbling forward. The discomfort can begin to crawl all over us…fears, control, what-if’s, etc…they all arise instantly. To continually draw ourselves back into the moment, from either the future or the past can feel literally, like being tugged by two children who are actively playing on a seesaw.
But once this moment passes, Saucha is beautiful(!) as we experience (maybe for the first time) the exquisite softness of our nature. Drawing ourselves back to the middle of that seesaw, reorienting ourselves in present time, we experience Present Time’s lack of expectation and its gentleness. It can feel foreign to remain balanced in that center, actually feeling quite comfortable to instead follow ourselves forward or back in time. It’s a challenging task to rest in the present moment as it is, to honestly see ourselves for who we are and what we’ve become. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we think we’re a bad person, but fears can come tumbling into that moment with any arising notions of letting go.
But what are we letting go of? …of our assumptions of how and why we should do things, of expectations of what’s going to happen if we don’t drive our life forward…because hey, if we’re present in the moment, we can’t be pressing forward can we? This concept can feel threatening to the construction site we’ve made in the mind….threatening to the assumptions that we’re lazy, that we won’t live up to the pressing demands of our culture. But Saucha’s requirement of purely being in the moment, devoid of distraction, is being truly purposeful and it’s really quite gentle. This quiet of the moment tells us about what we really need to be doing, it tells us about what really matters, and if we want to hear that then we’ll naturally prioritize what we hear from that moment.
This meeting of ourselves intimately is such a brilliant first step toward the rest of the Niyamas. No wonder it comes first! Such an exquisite mind was Patanjali, to have laid out the framework for our liberation in such an unexpectedly perfect way.--written by Vanessa Webb; LettersInYoga
*Artwork copyright by Heide Presse
The beauty of a dedicated asana practice is reflected around the world these days, as millions of Yoga practitioners are so committed to evolving their practice. Though personal reasons for this vary from person to person, the result is the same….beauty, the body becomes an art form. The body, as it is in asana, is a result of focus, commitment, and restraint…all of which, are characteristics and disciplines of engaging with the practice and fully bringing it to life.
In my experience of leading practitioners through the series of the First Two Limbs of Yoga (the Yamas and Niyamas), a common response I receive is “Oh yes, I know those already”. I question though, if knowing them already, means having the ability to list them and define them…pretty ABC. But this is so very different from living them and establishing a living relationship with them. Anyone who has developed an active, committed relationship with their asana practice will relate to this. As a balanced comparison to Asana, I wonder, if so many Yoga practitioners truly “know” the first two limbs of Yoga, wouldn’t our world be growing increasingly beautiful (like asana)…collectively, wouldn’t we be moving closer to respect, integrity, and authenticity, rather than further away from it?
Like a student of mine recently said, “we don’t even know we’re not practicing them”…we’ve somehow come to think that being able to memorize the list is the equivalent of knowing, of understanding, and of developing. Engaging with the yamas and niyamas requires the same attributes that we’re so willing to put toward the development of our asana practice, so why do we offer such an elusive commitment, such a vague defensiveness when mentioning a practice of ethics, and applying the same dedication to them?
As we know, the Yamas themselves are restraints…an aspect of ourselves we’re willing to bring forward in our physical practice, but it seems a cringeworthy prospect when we consider restraining our behaviours. What is the discomfort in even thinking about that? I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s because we know they will evolve who we are in the world; likewise, we fear that restraint means a loss of freedom; and, similarly, we fear the inner discomfort that can come full-on when we face ourselves from a new perspective. The truth is, that our inner misalignments are our own, which means we do have the power to align them…but we have to believe in that power to do so. We have to believe that we can remain on an even keel while our ego experiences (sometimes huge) discomfort. Same as with those asanas we “perfect”. But when it comes to our emotional selves, somehow we’re less willing to fall down, we want to protect ourselves from that. But it’s necessary to fall emotionally. There is no other way to get back up.
Power is not something we’re generally taught about; and sadly, the power we’re shown “out in the world” is that of dominance, overbearance, and of a misuse of power that has become acceptable. Yet the power to override our coarser selves is a beautiful inner space indeed. The thing about power (the beautiful power), is that it’s a trait we are introduced to and come to know FROM doing something we’re not so certain about. It’s not the other way around. It’s far less likely that we’ll feel power first and doubtful action second. Waiting until we’re comfortable to grow can often mean we never get around to it. So we need to rely on a lot of courage and compassion. Mostly, jumping in and swimming around IS the way to find our feet, to establish that power that encourages us to try other things that we’re nervous about. So it’s about self-belief, and can we trust ourselves to ride out the storm? Can we trust ourselves with learning as we go? I read somewhere about the headlights on a car only see as far as the next bend in the road…and this is such a blessing to come to terms with in our own lives. The light will shine on our path as we step forward…even if that’s a very shaky step indeed. So, for all those who say they know the First Two Limbs of Yoga, I encourage you to truly take a second look at that within yourselves…you might come back with the same response, or, you might find you’ve memorized a list.--Lettersinyoga
Non-attachment does not mean that we don’t care, in fact it means we care more deeply. It’s our concept of what “caring” is that needs review. We often associate “caring” from an attached frame of reference, whereas the ideal “caring” is freedom. Non-attachment leads us to truly value what is presently in our lives and experience, letting go of the need to acquire more…this is where freedom lies. Non-attachment means that we have the capacity to let things go from our lives when the time is right…if and when that time comes.
Everything in life is given from God and it will go back to God when it’s time. What is given, we are to care for, appreciate, love and nourish while it’s with us, yet have the capacity to let it go when it is no longer required in our life. And it’s not up to us to determine when this is. When the time comes to let go, we will know in our inner most being, but it’s the struggle with the thinking mind that turns it into agony. Holding on to anything beyond its time, or to something that was never meant to be ours in the first place, is toxic, and we do feel that when we listen deeply. So you see, it’s not that our inner intelligence isn’t there, it’s that we pin that against our egoic desires and create struggle for ourselves.
What is wonderful about this (agonizing) non-attachment, is that our discernment evolves from such a practice, we begin to prioritize what is of value, and it’s this that means we care more deeply…because we value what remains. We become less consumed in the maintenance that is required in a lifestyle of grasping…grasping at things that really only become distraction. Refining our focus toward what we value means we will nourish it and tend to it, with the added respect of knowing when it’s time to give it back to Life. We begin to hear when Life is asking for it back for the fulfillment of its purpose, but also for the fulfillment of yours. The practice of Brahmacharya begins to define our practice of Aparigraha, likewise Vairagya; which in turn deepens our commitment to Brahmacharya. This is where the deep capacity for caring and love is found.
We’re then left facing Trust, and how do we deal with Trust within ourselves and in our concept of the life we’re living? Are we willing to let go of what we think our life should be yet live it from our best selves? There is a phenomenal amount of Trust involved in this which really comes down to our willingness to let go of Control. You see how we break it down here, don’t you? When we feel it’s more important to grasp at things and hold on to those things, being distracted by those things, then we’re letting our ego run the show, we’re telling it that it’s in command over our deeper intelligence. And when we begin to shift that dynamic toward listening to and trusting our inner wisdom, the relationship with the ego will kick back, and do we have the willingness to ride that out? Determination even? We deserve to not be maintaining a life (of grasping) that wasn’t meant for us….we deserve to experience those people and things that are truly meant for us in this lifetime. This is then, a life of value, a life on purpose, and a life worth cherishing. It flips our experience from a life of “mine” to a life of “what is meant for my purpose to be fulfilled”? So, we practice Aparigraha without expectation of what the outcome will be. The discernment of the practice develops the ability to let go.---www.lettersinyoga.com
image credit: "woman to woman" Trizworld Gallery
“We’re all in this together” is a phrase that keeps repeating itself to me in recent weeks. I’ve always been a believer in community, but the world seems so strikingly different today, than it did even just three or four weeks ago. “Community” suddenly feels a bit Woodstock-ish, in its rapid, and sudden, evolution to “we’re all in this together”.
The tremendous number of good people in the world can grasp this notion, but it seemingly remains an intellectual concept. Do we really understand in our living experience, what it means? My social media is a “community” and my website was built for the purpose of supporting teachers and students as a community, yet both have been the most isolating experience I’ve ever had. The sad reality is, that each of us is caught up in our own life and the challenges it brings.
In my own conundrum around this, my jaw often drops in confusion around how it is, that we’re not coming together as a collective, in a time that is commanding it from us. If we’re not going to practice empowerment now, then when will we? We’re living through a culmination of diseased behaviour that has been permeating our planet for centuries, and none of us seem to know what to do about it. Good honest educated people, well intentioned people, those who live well and with respect, who agree we need to come together, are challenged to do just that, in the way that is necessary for a better world. It makes me wonder, is it not happening because we don’t fully understand the concept? Our intelligence declares “of course I know what it means” but I question whether we’ve had the living experience of it in a way that we grasp it into our systems. It seems like we’re trying to apply an archaic system (the cause of the destruction), to a concept which is turning out to be, revolutionary…”we’re all in this together”. This phrase is its own entity separate from our old school system, so it can’t be understood or expressed from that framework. The old system is built on a framework of: “it’s all about me”, “I”ve got to get what I can”. This is a corporate mentality and experience of existence. Yet the corporate structure is so strong and prevails everything, that we don’t know that we’re not seeing.
To really consider its meaning, we need to feel into this statement on another level, an engaged and interactive level. “We’re all in this together” means we need to resolve this together, we need to come together in a form of humbleness, openness to new understanding and to each other, and support of one another in a way we’ve not seen collectively in a very long time, if ever. It means that we actually need to engage with each other. It’s an entirely different way of framing our perception from what we’re used to….and that’s the block. We come up against that feeling of knowing something needs to be different and then we’re stumped.
So, what is community? Well I’m still learning, but this is what I do know (and I’m sure the list is much longer with a great ability to evolve): understanding of one’s own self helps greatly in our willingness to being open to the perspectives of others. Through brainstorming and valuing different perspectives we can bring a meeting of concepts and ideas in a way that can work together; humility stems from understanding. We need to be humble enough to admit that we don’t know everything, and everyone has something of value to contribute. This is a letting go of control, and gearing toward education and growth; and, through it all, this is where we dig in, we lean into the traditional teachings and wisdoms of those who knew better. In comparison to all of humanity, there have only been a handful of such people, considering we’re able fit them on a list. It’s not the norm to live by such teachings, and yet they are the very essence of what we need to embrace in today’s collective. These teachings are really the only way through what we’re currently living in. The old system mindset (which is corporate based) is seeing current circumstance as the end of the world, a higher mindset (spiritually based) is seeing it as transition that we can get through….but it is through (spiritually based), not over, or avoiding (corporate based). And ‘through” means we need to rely on one another….on one another’s intelligence, one another’s support, inspiration and vitality we bring, to really gain the concept of community and lean in to it as far as we have to.
We can’t approach “community” from an “I” standpoint, and, without realizing it, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re baffled by what’s happening without knowing how to change it, simply because we haven’t ever learned what “community” is, it hasn’t been taught to us because it hasn’t been mainstream. It’s time now to want to learn.-- Vanessa, Letters In Yoga
image credit: (top) arnold friberg (bottom) peter turnley