Written by Lydia Merl
Whether your theme song for 2016 was “Make America Great Again” or “Stronger Together” or “Feel the Bern” it’s clear that we all want a country that makes us proud to be American. What that looks like in the big picture is a country that takes care of its citizens and its ideals. What that looks like up close depends on which slogan speaks to your heart. But, whatever your political leanings, perhaps we can agree that its time to envision a political revolution that makes our country stronger because its citizens and leaders work together to make America great, period!.
Our yoga mat is a perfect place to explore this vision. On the mat, we are confronted with our own humanity. No 2.5 x 6-foot space will reveal your strengths and weaknesses quite as succinctly. There will be moments that bring you to your knees~ physically, emotionally, spiritually. And there will be moments when you are totally in the flow of breath and movement; one with time and space and consciousness; that will allow you to see the limitless possibility of your existence and grasp in the most profound way the oneness and divinity that is your true nature.
When we look out into the world and see divisiveness and anger, hate and violence, disrespect and inequality we need not look further than the confines of our mat to know that because we can see it “out there” it must exist within each of us on a smaller scale. As you move through your practice pause and notice when divisive or judgmental thoughts arise. What postures push your buttons and trigger your anger? Are their times in your practice that you push past the point of no return? When your hamstrings are screaming and you are forcing straight legs, stop and ask yourself if this isn’t a form of violence. When you are criticizing yourself because you can feel your stomach hang over the top of your yoga pants, or you are judging those around you stop and notice how these thoughts take you out of the flow.
If we can be triggered in yoga, then imagine how easy it is to be triggered out in the real world. As our yoga practice moves past the physicality of the poses and into the subtler realms of emotion and spirit we can take the lessons learned and apply them to our daily lives. How we approach anything is how we approach everything, so why not use the grace, intention, flexibility, strength, awareness, acceptance, courage, discipline, perseverance, resilience, forgiveness, love and humility that we’ve practiced on our mats to approach this new reality? We will create a ripple effect through our bodies, our relationships our communities and our world.
This is not the time to bypass what needs to be done or numb out or take a wait and see attitude. We must practice self-care to be on our A game, and practice discernment so we take appropriate action when we see bigotry or hatred or bullying or backward thinking being paraded through our public forums. As Meryl Streep said so eloquently in her now famous Golden Globe acceptance speech, “when people in power are disrespectful it gives permission to others to behave disrespectfully”. The opposite is also true. When others shine their light in inspirational ways, this too is contagious. There can be no sitting back and letting someone else do it. It is on me. And you. All of us. We are the light workers and if we believe that everything is happening exactly as it must for our souls to evolve then we must look at this era as the call to action I believe it is.