Our Yogic Responsibility
As harsh as this title may sound and as much as it seems like there will be rules to follow or steps to take, this is simply an intro to the first blog on our site beginning with considering our role on the journey of living yoga. I begin with a quote I recently posted on my Facebook page as it, like all good quotes, says so much with so few words "The only Zen found on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there" - Robert Pirsig . In so many ways this quote speaks to our responsibility of bringing to our experience that which we wish to experience. It does not erase what life presents us with or obliterate obstacles, challenges or distress, but it gives us the choice. In fact, our choice is our greatest freedom even at the worst and most difficult times. Acknowledging our choice is the first step out of feeling powerless. The feeling of powerlessness is our first step out of balance. Balance is one of the first teachings in the study of yoga. Maintaining a balanced life is within the teaching of Ahimsa which we know as "non-violence" or "do no harm". It is the first teaching of the Yamas on the first limb of the eight fold path of Ashtanga Yoga within the Yoga Sutras. Pretty much, it is number one and stands rightfully as such. When we talk about non violence and compassionate awareness it becomes our responsibility to break it down to all the ways we can then observe the choices we make to exercise this teaching. What role do we play in the experience of harming others and or ourselves without even knowing? One of the ways I have had to remind myself to cease harming another is to not worry about them. Worry is a term we tend to use toward others as though it was synonymous to love. "I worry for them" is something we say casually, loosely and often. It is well meaning but the irony is that it is the opposite and it is an act of harm. As a mother of grown children I find this teaching especially valuable. It is also of value to our siblings, our friends, our parents and everyone we engage with. When we worry for others we take rather than give. Quoting from Deborah Adele - "Worry says I don't trust you to do your life right. Worry comes from a place of arrogance that I know better what should be happening in your life. Worry says I don't trust your journey, or your answers or your timing. Worry is fear that hasn't grown up yet; it is a misuse of our imagination. We both devalue and insult others when we worry about them."
This to me points to the choice we have when witnessing a struggle. Our choice is to trust. To trust the suffering, to trust the journey and know that mistakes are part of our learning. It helps to remind us that we can always work toward our best self by making conscious choices when we speak and respond to ourselves and others. I appreciate that it is not easy as we all know our best moments are often the most challenging. This speaks to our responsibility as beings to honor the work. The assumption that life for those who practice yoga comes easily could not be less true. The peaceful expression is our choice, it is not a given. Therefore, it is not the beautiful mountain that brings us into a peaceful, non violent compassionate state; it is the awareness of ourselves and the trust we build that we carry within us; it is our capacity to be non violent in ways that we otherwise don't see - like how we talk about others or judge ourselves. It is our choice, not once but every time, every moment and everywhere - on and off our mats! To practice yoga is a lifelong journey that begins and ends with our own choice and our freedom to learn and make mistakes. No one is counting how many mistakes we make, nor should we. We can set ourselves free of counting mistakes for anyone else.
"With each step I touch the earth lightly to do her no harm, and she in turn does me no harm" - unknown
"Whatever we find ourselves engaged in, this jewel of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, asks us to step lightly, do no harm, and to honor the relationship we have with the earth, with each other and with ourselves" - Deborah Adele
And with that, I feel that there is a responsibility we can all celebrate and honor as we travel the path of yoga as a living practice.
Co-Owner and Instructor