I’m speaking in response to a question posed by Jess Radovich; the gist of the question was how are we responding in Yoga to the election of Donald Trump as president and the overall political climate?
First I’ll say that we, as westerners are unprepared for creating the kind of Yoga sadhana that could carry us in trying times. It seems that it is difficult for us to truly believe that we have awakened consciousness within us, even after we have experienced it so many times. It is difficult for us to find the trust to rest in the awakened state long enough to look deeply at what is happening within and around us, without reacting from a disturbed state. And, resting in the one within us who sees clearly is crucial to the right action or creative response that could follow. We identify with the “doer” so much that, even if we are simply instinctively doing, with little intention, plan, or sense of calm, it feels more comfortable in the sense that it is more familiar to us. Besides having not been conditioned to meet this inner seer, we also seem to have a constant sense of urgency. I feel this and have since I was a child. The sense that we must act quickly. The feeling that we need to do or in most cases, say something now. It is becoming clear to me how much of a misapprehension that is, and I’m aware that saying that may trigger some.
This is not to say that no action should be taken in the direction of advocacy and activism, and certainly it is difficult to refrain from discussion, when it is so impassioned and feels as if it enlivens the soul and points the heart into exactly what it cares about deeply. There is a deep learning that happens through making the mind steady; chitta vritti nirodha, so that the seer can be revealed; tada drastuh swarupe vasthanum, lest we are continuing to allow our mind stuff to color our world and we are engaging with that coloring rather than the actual battle, which, per Yoga, lies within. I would say that it least it originates from within and our practice can manage it best there and then we can act from a clear place of knowing what is motivating our action. Then, if we are acting on behalf of our friends who are immigrants or minorities whose rights may be threatened, we are taking action that is focused and surrendered to a higher reality that doesn’t get mixed up in personal ego. So much can be done with that Selfless Service. I’ve been revisiting works about Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi lately, who with their own dharmas, were great examples of focused work and ego surrender.
Yoga is also very clear on Pratypakshabhavana or cultivating the opposite of a harmful state of being/living. I feel charged with that right now, when I hear so many students who are afraid for their children and immigrant or minority friends and family. As teachers, we need to connect with the fearless and deathless self, to offer that reflex ion to those we serve. In some situations, that reflection is enough for someone to remember it within themselves. Currently I am focusing on MotherHeart Yoga Sangha as a place for folks to get that reflection-as well as process what they need to process to feel seen. I am absolutely praying the prayer of St Francis in this process and taking steps to clean my senses daily and rest when I can.