I got up this morning and I had my sit meditation. It was a struggle. I resorted to mantra in order to have a focus. Om mani padme hung. Compassion.
I got some tea.
Then I started my asana practice. It was staggered. My body sluggish. My heart heavy and worries deep. The mounting crises in this country over the last 10 days alert me intensely that times have changed and will continue to change. Justice and freedom have been redefined. Facts are no longer facts. What will be next?
“One drop of blood,” my mother used to remind me as a child. “Don’t think you are special because you are light-skinned. In the end of the day you are a nigger to them. One drop of blood.”
I burned some sage and incense.
As I walked the house fanning the sweet aromas I was struck with this notion: Do I believe this sage is going to change the current climate?
I prayed to my ancestors and thanked them for their suffering and their wisdom. Do I believe they will swoop in with super hero capes and save the day?
Do I think prayer beads and yoga classes are going to open the doors for immigrants into our country?
Why do any of this at all? Am I just blowing a bunch of neo-hippie smoke up everyone’s hoo-hah?
How can I do sit meditations, yoga asana, tai chi practices when people are being torn from families, left without safe harbor, when our civil liberties are being burned before our very eyes?
What good will that do? Sitting never moved a mountain. Yoga poses aren’t going to change the current climate.
You’re right. My downdog isn’t going to move anything on Capitol Hill.
But it will help me find stillness in discomfort. It will help me figure out what I’m really fighting – my hamstrings or my tears. It will help me feel a space in the now that isn’t shattered, torn and terrified.
My arm balance won’t change any executive action or order. But it can help me practice grace in the face of the weight of gravity and test my poise and patience. Testing that on my mat will help me should a day come where I need poise in the face of violence or threat.
And my twisting bound postures won’t untangle any of the political messes we find ourselves in. Instead it offers me an opportunity to find breath when it feels squeezed out of me, to find freedom even within shackles, to know that ease is found, one breath at a time.
Yoga isn’t a cure-all. I’m never going to be a head-in-the-clouds yogini who believes this. Nor do I believe we should isolate ourselves in a community of yogis, only talking yoga and how everyone else is lost and wrong.
Yoga is the bridge between my disconnected, disoriented, disempowered self and my potential as an awake being. My practices of breath, postures and philosophy keep me g
rounded and open to remembering not only the truths of evil that exist, but the truths of love and compassion too.
The key is to keep practicing even as we march and write letters and challenge facts.
We must keep practicing as we challenge acts of bigotry we encounter in line at the store.
We must keep practicing when we encounter brothers and sisters with different beliefs than our own.
It’s not a practice for us to feel good. It’s a practice to keep us whole and on track for the journey of peace for all.