Tag Archives: yoga and social action

How Do We Labor: A Yoga Labor Day Muse

How Do We Labor? A Yoga Labor Day Muse

How Do We Labor? A Yoga Labor Day Muse

 A noteworthy section (the Eight Limbs) of a major yoga text, The Yoga Sutras, offers specific components of a worthy life. We yoga teachers wear the heck out of it because it’s a tidy template; relatable, easy to apply to asana and by extension behavior off the mat.

 

Herein is advice to keep fire, the manifestation of desire, under one’s feet. One is also advised that contentment is essential. Beyond that, keep your sunny side up and your eyes open is what I’ve extrapolated from the word cleanliness.

Ascetics wrote this body of work which I reinterpret for our times; times of “it’s all good”, which it is not. People like to pretend.

It’s tidy that the author or authors thought to group fire/desire, contentment, positivity with reflection and tied them together with the suggestion of surrendering to a higher power. I mean when you try your damndest and this life still acts like a bag full of cats it’s nice to have that to fall back on.

 

And it was never going to be easy in a world in which everyone’s and everything’s survival depends on eating someone or something else. The map points to a rough road. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

There’s a warning watch list of qualifications, of things not to do in order to make those components of a happy life possible. The list is called Just Don’t Do It. I made that up. They called it Restraints. It’s also known as the first limb of yoga. Number one: Don’t be an ass and you won’t feel guilty. If you don’t feel guilty you’ll have more energy toward positive things, like keeping your sunny side up while you bust your butt in happy endeavors that satisfy you. That’s in the second limb. Keep climbing. You can be an ass by being a mean, stealing, jealous, arrogant hoarder or any of the above. So it’s easy to be an ass at least once a week if not once a day or an hour.

 

In a country where kindness has one leg out the window and common courtesy is standing on the ledge, where the population suffers from epidemic attention deficiency it’s tempting to be an ass as it’s practically become acceptable but it’s also tempting to ‘give it up to God’ as a vacation from effort.

 

I’m reminded of a car I steered clear of because the bumper sticker said that Jesus was driving. Poor Jesus comes back and the best job available for someone of a certain age is to chauffer a guy who’d rather take the back seat. Yes Jesus, my friends and I are having big birthdays. We get it.

 

I saw the show Sunday Morning today. It is Labor Day weekend so there were three separate segments on employees in this country. One pointed out that only three out of ten people like their jobs. A second revealed that if you take your entire tiny handful of vacation days, 15% of your employers will think you’re a slacker and 10% will overlook you for a promotion. No problem, most of you don’t have the money to go on vacation anyway.

 

The third was like baby bear’s bed; just right. A bit of socialism in a company goes a long way. When the employees are treated like worthy individuals of a shared community, productivity goes up and happiness reigns for all.

 

This is the best we can offer in a shared experience of humanity that is an ongoing experiment in survival. What does it take to treat someone like a worthy individual if you are not the boss? What does it take for happiness created to translate to personal happiness?

 

Here’s a radical concept of authenticity: Manners might be the answer. Manners are not superficial but I think quite the opposite. Manners say that I see you beyond your facades and treat you as I would have you treat me. Manners are my restraint; as I don’t honk my horn at you or flip you the bird, as I do not put my cell phone on your dining room table, as I honor the acceptance of your invitation by showing up as planned. Manners mean I have reflected. Manners mean I understand Namaste.

 

There is no template but the vastness of everyday life. In this life where we cut and eat someone or something to stay alive even a silent thank you for that in the presence of ourselves might be the beginning of a labor of love on a planet where:

“We’re all just walking each other home”

                                                                                                                                ~ Ram Dass – author of Be Here Now

                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under allegory, American culture, Buddhism, meditation, new age enlightenment, politcal action, social action, social commentary, yoga, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

You Can Run but You Can’t Hide

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Another Shot Heard Round the World from Boston

I don’t run for sport. I would run only if chased or chasing time.

Others run for pleasure … or to keep depression at bay, which may be the same thing.  They run for the joy of it or the high of it, others, like me, run when threatened, and there are those that run toward danger. We are a diverse people.

Some of us want to burn shit down. We may or may not know why. Some of us put out fires. We may or may not know why. Some want to carry countrymen from burning buildings. I think they know why.

The life is suddenly multiplied with potential.  Technology advances and possibilities escalate. There is greater opportunity for both destruction and construction.

 I’m no longer shocked by violence. The latest act of terrorism that blew up the Boston Marathon did not shock me like it was the first blast, though it broke my heart for the victims just the same.  Violence is no longer a random occurrence in supposedly civilized countries but a fact of life.  But violent acts no longer convince me that my fellow men are criminally insane or emotionally bankrupt.  Cynicism and fear had clouded judgment. Though I am sure that most of Congress is morally bankrupt and that the criminally insane walk amongst us in growing populations thanks to a life that is untenable without anger or drugs, I am hopeful that most of the world is running from danger or into the fire to carry countrymen from buildings. I hadn’t realized how much that mattered.

This life is a peculiar juxtaposition of isolation and information. For anyone with a computer, radio or television there is an onslaught of urgent or at least pressing information that is perhaps relevant but not directly personal which has the effect of both distancing and engaging the observer. You can look away, you can run away but it does not go away. Someone you know will eventually share it. Still you cannot touch it or change it and it doesn’t even care; doesn’t know your name.  Disconnection breeds mistrust. Mistrust breeds loneliness. Loneliness is a catalyst to fear.

The Bush/Cheney years brought fear and negativity to the forefront. Is it merely coincidence that these were the years that made yoga famous as well? I don’t think so. Before my yoga life was a hostile take-over, I didn’t have an enemy in the world. Before George Bush took office, I trusted my country. Before Monsanto stole our food my biggest challenge was addiction to chocolate. Before drug companies and advertisers colluded to poison our bodies and minds, the worst nightmare I had raising kids was to keep them off booze and recreational drugs. Why pontificate? You know the list. It is yours too. Yes, there was naiveté before. Some were running away from life, some starting fires but we didn’t see that unless they were celebrities or neighbors.  We now know that things were not always as they seemed.  Information may be crowding us today but we know what we have to sift through.

My friends own guns. It’s a done deal and it’s not going away: Pilates instructors, massage therapists, song writers; all of them.  I have to accept the new norm. I was with a fellow the other night who told me he left his V.P. job at a large corporation to become a cop because corporate life was a hideous nightmare. He reported that though he grew up a California liberal and still is, he wouldn’t recommend anyone leave their house without a gun after seeing what roams the streets. He was sorrowful saying so.

Thanks to unlimited access to information via the internet, anyone can make a bomb now. Soon or maybe now we can make weapons on our 3D printers.

Despite this or maybe because of this, surrender melts my fear today though today I also called my Senators urging them toward gun reform as the time is now. I won’t stop fighting for what seems right but I can’t keep fighting phantoms.  I cannot explain it other than to say that my extended family and friends are fine people.  The world in front of me has homeless and chained dogs and terrible things for sale but that is not the whole of it or even the most of it. Most of it is beautiful and glorious and wonderful. I can’t stand looking at it any other way anymore.

Though it’s likely you’ll forever hear me shout warnings about the venomous snake in the grass, I will also notice the flower that pushes past rock to feel the sun. My eyes set and truth will follow. I am tired of intruder’s madness. Just like you.

Have you ever noticed the subtle sensation of your skin shrinking back as you open your eyes after savasana?  Even in a safe haven we are built to protect from other.  

I am horrified by my brethren who want to torch us. But I am so tired of wearing protective gear.

We are mournful for the victims stopped crippled or dead in their tracks. We are lifted up by the heroes who continue to run into the fire May we find enough love to believe that the life unconditionally supports our ability to move freely without harm from others because it is clear, we can no longer hide. We are exposed.

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Filed under new age enlightenment, politcal action, social commentary, yoga, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

Don’t Like Crazy? Find a New Planet.

 Originally posted on the Journal Pages of Active Yoga

Sunday, July 20, 2008 – 10:11 pm


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It is five years later. My lame joke about guns and holsters for all occasions may soon come to be a reality. America has noticed an insanity problem. America has declared it will not give up its guns. The discussion is on the table. I felt it was time to pull out this old and formerly private post.
Here are no statistics on  the prevalence of pharmacueticals  prescribed  for anxiety and depression or statistics on gun sales. I have not railed about the challenges of adapting to a technological and potentially isolated life. Or maybe I just did. Guns are now allowed in our parks.

I just tossed a fifth of gin
Now I’m going to dizz knee land
I just got cuffed again
Now I’m going to dizz knee land
Shot my gun into the night
I’m going to dizz knee land
I just saw a good man die
I’m going to dizz knee land — Dada

I heard the news today oh boy. The NRA is putting pressure on Disneyland. Employees should carry concealed weapons to work. It seems those employees put their lives on the line every day. As a person who has an unhealthy horror of anything plush or otherwise with an oversized head or hands I can see that.

Once a week I teach at a tennis club. It’s a diverse crowd and I saw an opportunity for real growth last week when I brought up the NRA concern. I instigate where I can. There are so many opportunities for us to dislike each other but we don’t which is simply amazing.

Someone added that the NRA is pushing to allow concealed weapons permits at all national parks as well and though she didn’t seem too concerned a couple of college students gasped with horror. An older woman known for her terse and take no prisoners attitude snapped,

 “Well it’s supposed to be a free country. We should be able to do what we want. In the old West everybody wore a holster and had guns right on their bodies! I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

I made a bad joke about the opportunity for marketing  guns and holsters to suit a modern woman’s changing wardrobe needs.

I imagined getting pulled over by the police for a bad tail light and getting a ticket for not wearing my seat belt but the weapon would be allowed. In fact I could wear my gun to a bar, get drunk and stagger down the street as long as I didn’t get in my car and drive. For that matter I could get in my car and drive with an arsenal of prescribed drugs in me as long as I wasn’t carrying pot. But I digress.

In 2003 in the state of Tennessee there were about 217 requests for concealed weapons permits and in 2007 that increased to about 217,000 requests. They have a gun, I need a gun or maybe they have a gun and why shouldn’t I?  I live in the South and there is a sense of entitlement to guns that we didn’t share in the general non criminal population of New Jersey. I have friends who have guns and as I write this I’m wondering why I am friends with people who believe it’s good to have guns but I’ve gotten used to it. I should heed the words of my Nana who once admonished me for dating what she saw as a loser,

You can get used to anything, even a wart at the end of your nose.” A woman of impeccable appearance, this curse was avoidable as anything could be cut out or off or made reasonable with the help of a plastic surgeon.

Still, there is a peculiar poetry to the insanity in the South which both disturbs and pleases me. I unlike the Chinese who recently issued a statement that mentally ill people would not be allowed at the Olympics have come to expect unreasonable behavior.

The Chinese have whole cities devoted to making products like mattresses. In a mattress city the country folk are imported to work and in return they are fed and crowded into small apartments where they live on top of each other. How crazy is that? Aren’t you harvesting crazy people? How can people who have cities like this talk about mentally ill people?

And how will they know who is mentally ill anyway?

If you’re not drooling and screaming perhaps something in your toiletries kit will offer the information they need. Anti-psychotic drugs are widely distributed as are drugs for depression. And then there are drugs for general anxiety and drugs for pain or sleeplessness that have the side effect of making one wild eyed. Are you going to keep out right wing folk singers?  How about Jews for Jesus? People who chain dogs in their fenced in yards?

And who would fill all those seats? I would consider about a third of the people I know more than a bit off. My husband and I had three people to dinner the other night and two of them were barely orbiting the planet while I have automated voice turrets. Anytime any automated voice addresses me I go crazy with verbal assaults. I am the most reactive yoga teacher ever and worse still, I don’t care, I delight in it. So what do you expect China?

Will it be O.K. to carry concealed weapons into the Olympics? How about Capitol Hill? Why not?

That’s all.

re-posted on elephantjournal.com

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