Well, the this all has been sobering. In an ugly cry sort of way. It’s a scary old world, ladies, queers, jews, Latins, and well… anyone who is not a white male. Any advances we thought we had made in civil and human rights are in peril. They will be putting us back on our boats, in our kitchens and closets and wherever it is we came from. White male privilege is making one last man-spreading “hurrah!” and is not about to go down without a fight. Though I feel bad for you too, if you are a white male, because you might be one of our cool, feminist allies and are still going to get our empty, potentially angry, sad and disenfranchised stares. So here we are. In this lovely place we call “the wrong side of history”. Now what? Draupadi has her hands up in the air, that’s for fucking sure.
I’m not sure we are having a political dilemma. I believe we are having an all out spiritual crisis. Duality. Paradox. Extremes. These are dynamic energies that are always at play. They are the water we swim in and must learn to navigate. Clearly the lesson is still in session. We’ve all heard by now that the word yoga translates as yoke, the kind of yoke that ties an ox to a cart, yada yada yada. But what does this exhausted metaphor actually mean? And for the love of Krishna, can anyone come up with a better one?
I used to think all people, at their core, were compassionate, kind and good. I have no idea how I arrived at this conclusion considering I grew up in Colombia during the 1980’s and 90’s, at the height of Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror, but it doesn’t matter much, I somehow got there. That was my basic understanding of the human condition, which is by far too reductive and distilled a way to try to box the messiness and complexity which is this business of living. The truth is that we can harm each other. And we do. Often. We can also love each other. And we do. Often. And we find every shade within that.
So no. I don’t necessarily believe that anymore. But wait. Bear with me. I’m not going to be a total existential downer. My experience of the human condition has evolved from years of cultivating a mystical and esoteric practice. I’ve now come to this understanding: We all share a true nature. It’s the part of ourselves that is deep down under the stories of who we are, deep under the joys, the hurts, the successes, frustrations, the laughter, the losses and the love. This essence is expressive, aesthetic, bountiful and expansive. It is fluid and ease-full. I know this to be true because I have experienced it deep inside my self at the times I have been able to drop in. When I am able to relax and get out of my own way enough to enjoy it. This true nature is an experience of great wisdom or a knowing. It serves as a compass. It clearly tells us when we’ve made a choice that is out of integrity because we feel more anxious afterwards as well as telling us when our choices are aligned by offering relief. We all have access to it. Every one of us. It is not of one person it is our very own operating system.
How can this be true when there is so much suffering everywhere in the world and things feel so disjointed? Well, duality is not an easy thing to straddle. The moment we separate ourselves from one another and claim “otherness”, a chasm splits our innate wisdom and our communication to it. This “otherness” is like an amnesia of the self. We truly forget who we are. It’s not that it isn’t there or even that we don’t hear it. It is more that we choose to disregard it. We step away with purpose. This betrayal comes at a cost. Because even though we may be hurting someone else with our actions, we end up carrying the ugliest part of the hurt, which is the samskara, the print or scar it leaves, which is the knowing that we acted out of alignment.
These are my current thoughts. It is wake up time if there ever was one. I am seeing all of the small even minuscule ways in which I misalign. And I am really no longer interested in that. I want to be fully and unequivocally in alignment- in my fucking flow. It’s called presence. Like Hamlet says “The readiness is all.” I want to participate. Not just “practice, practice, practice”, like Pattabhi Jois used to say. That ship has sailed. It’s time to put the practice to some good use. At some point you gotta play ball, you know what I mean?
I have been incredible disillusioned, the last few weeks, in the heavy silences sustained by many whom I consider my teachers and to be the great teachers of our time in these practices, all the while continuing to sell their lives and products on social media as if all of this wasn’t happening. I’ve got nothing against making a good living and keeping your business afloat. But this lack of leadership and point of view hurts and has made me reconsider their roles in my life. I have also been surprised and inspired by some I thought would stay quiet who haven’t. Your voices are heard! And they have invigorated me!
I am all for creating safe spaces and bridging conversations. Within that though, we have to consider why and what a space needs to be safe from. I truly believe we will need to reach across the gap somehow if we intend to make any progress. But we are also spiritual leaders and as such are responsible for upholding a high standard of respect within our communities and that involves calling people on their shit when they are behaving badly. We have to be able to dream big not just in our immediate lives, but also in what we want out of our communities. So I will continue to challenge you to show up as your highest self as I hope you do me. I will continue to have you introduce yourself to your neighbor as that is a great place to start. We are each other’s keepers. There is no closing of what has come unleashed, the basement door will not stay closed. It is out there and now there is no way but through. One thing is for sure though, the best chance we have is in each other.
– The Yoga of Touch: Hands on Assists– Study Session for teachers and non-teachers alike, is happening Saturday Dec 10 from 2-7pm at the Bhakti Center NYC. Still some spots available. Check it out.
– Two spots are left for Nuqui! February 27- March 5. Come with us. It is going to be perfect weather and a restful, awesome decompressor. check it out.
–The Art of Teaching, an Immersion Weekend is happening February 10-14 at Prema Yoga in Brooklyn. Check it out.
– Thanks to all who came out to the Kirtan at Lotus and especially to those who traveled from Boston. It was so amazing to have a chance to spread love through music, especially considering the times. If you want to listen to it, you can download it here. Album is coming soon…