be the good

Being a "Good" Yogi

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How do you measure the efficacy of your yoga practice? The answer to this question is often only thought of in terms of flexibility and strength but that is not a measure of a yoga practice, it is only a measure of an asana practice. Asana is only one branch of yoga and if that is all you are doing, I hate to break it to you, but you are not doing yoga, you’re just exercising.

 

The modern yoga industry sells this version of yoga idea to make it more “palatable” for the masses, more salable, more commercialized and easier to reap a profit. This is a gross appropriation of an ancient practice for the commercial industrialized world. A “palatable” yoga practice is as far from yoga as yoga can get.

 

Yoga is a spiritual practice. Spirituality like yoga is also marketed to the masses in a “palatable” way, as a thing that makes “life all good”. But calling life all good is just spiritual bypass. Life isn’t always all good. Sure, from the spiritual perspective it’s all divine, but that’s not all good. Sometimes the divine shows up in shitty ass ways. Take the 400 years of white supremacy that makes up the backbone of the democracy we call America; it’s shitty and it’s an invitation to doing great soul-searching work; it’s the divine showing up say look here and do the work here. Spirituality is not about transcendence of the world but deeper involvement in it. Spirituality is the act of recognizing our ego is not in control, something bigger is dealing the cards, and our response to the hand we get dealt is where the work gets done; that is where the human evolves, that is where a better world is created – internal and external. That means acceptance, accountability, commitment, awareness, forgiveness, compassion, and most of all love.

 

That awesome pose you can do doesn’t mean shit in the face of life – ugly, real, honest life; that picture of you in some awesome pose just means you can do some awesome pose. If you use the journey into and out of the pose as a reminder of how to face and dance with life off your mat, it means more. If you can use the pose to remember that life isn’t comfortable and the way you choose to perceive the experience you are having in your mind, a choice that may or may not disturb the resonance of peace and love in your heart, then it means more; to explore the boundaries of your fear and your relationship to courage while there, and to continue - not despite the adversity but in the face of it - then it means more; to explore the nature of your willingness to reckon with self-accountability while rumbling with the self-aggrandized ignorance of your beliefs, it means more. If you’re only striking some awesome pose for that great Instagram shot and more followers, it doesn’t mean shit; and it certainly does not mean you’re some advanced yogi.

 

Sure, I can do some pretty big asana poses but my ability to do those poses is not my measure of the efficacy of my yoga practice. I measure the efficacy of my yoga practice in my capacity to sit in the company of myself when I’m feeling fucked-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional without asking those things to change, but rather addressing myself there with more compassion, love, accountability, courage, and forgiveness. I measure the efficacy of my yoga practice in my ability to be compassionate towards others who are living human lives; ignorant, self-aggrandized, shut down, and afraid. I measure the efficacy of my yoga practice in my ability to be more like my hero’s, people who have stood or still stand with love and courage in the face of adversity for the sake of the greater good. People who lead and have led the way for the rest of us to follow. The list is long and the majority of them are people of color.

Having flexible joints and muscles doesn’t mean you have a flexible mind; doesn’t mean you can rid yourself of a destructive belief for one that is life enhancing. Having strong joints and muscles doesn’t mean you have strength of character nor the ability to be in the presence of difficult people or experiences without getting taken out by them. Strong and flexible joints and muscles are not measurements of a strong yoga practice, nor a strong spiritual practice, they are only poor imitations. If like me, you are a white yogi and you want to be a “good” yogi in the world today it is time to educate yourself on white supremacy; have difficult conversations about your complicity and privilege with yourself and others; stand for something bigger and more life enhancing than your desire to nail that press handstand and do it in public. Let your conviction and commitment to a cause greater than yourself be a measurement of your yoga practice no matter how many followers or students you gain or lose; no matter how big your poses get; no matter how much anger and grief you have to sit through; let your flexibility of mind, strength of character, and spaciousness of spirit speak for you.

With Love, Allways, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve

Power over Futility

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What is power if we do not choose to exercise it? And what good is exercising power if we aren’t going to use it to enhance life? From the perspective in which I view the world, we are all born with power. Perhaps some of us are born with more influence and more ability to influence yet, we are all born with the power to influence what we choose to put our attention on. Spiritual practice, education, career paths are all, in essence, a deepening of our ability to influence an aspect of our own lives, and perhaps even the lives of others.

I came across this wonderful teaching this week in Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines edited by W.Y. Evans-Wentz. “He who knoweth the Precepts by heart, but failith to practice them, is like unto one who lighteth a lamp and then shutteth his eyes.” (versus 193-4 The Ocean of Delight for the Wise) Truly, all the knowledge in the world when not wielded with ones truest power of influence over ones own actions is futile to accumulate. Just as it is futile to turn on a light and close your eyes.

There are many so called practices in futility in this world that consume our attentions, yet do nothing to empower us or enhance the quality of our lives. Things such as, learning to be more aware of ones own actions and then demanding that others in ones company do the same, or rooting all of ones actions in a desire to change the world. Demanding another to change their behavior is an exercise in futility as we only ever have dominion over ourselves, just as is thinking that through our actions we can change the world. When in truth the world is changing all of the time, with and without us, as that is the nature of all that is.

Rather than get caught in the web of futile practices we can serve ourselves, and the greater web of all that is, by being ever more aware of what it is we are learning, and how we are each choosing to exercise our power and influence by wielding that knowledge in a life enhancing way. In the end, the greatest power over influence any of us has is over ourselves. We exercise our power in the way we choose to experience each and every moment of each and every day, in choosing to be proactive or be a victim.

Power that we choose not to exercise in a proactive response to life is a waste. And exercising power in a way that is unconscious of the ripple effect it will have on the web is also a waste. Just as is turning on a light and closing ones eyes, it is a waste to give what precious energy you have in this life to that which shall produce no results. Therefore, fill your minds with answers to questions that peak your hearts truest curiosity and fill your days with actions that proactively shine light into the darkness of your ignorance. It is on a path of this kind of powerful influence that we change ourselves, and by doing so enhance the quality of all life in the world.

With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving, In Joy, Proactively,

Genevieve

Ideas Worth Sharing

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"On resiste a l'invasion des armees; on ne resiste pas a l'invasion des idees," "One resists the invasion of armies, but not the invasion of ideas." (History of a Crime,1877) Victor Hugo

Human beings are impressionable. From youth to old age we are susceptible to believing the truths of others, and in turn can become rigid in the way we view the world. In fact, this is perhaps one of the biggest detriments of our nature. Even more frightening is the way we can become convinced of untruths and false stories about what is, and how it is, so much so, that it creates a lens through which we see the world that is completely distorted.

This is what makes Victor Hugo’s sentiment about the invasion of ideas so powerful.

There is an element of conspiracy theory behind the view that those in positions of great power have used this knowledge to keep those with little power in subservient states. Perhaps this is true perhaps it is not? I have little desire to travel down the rabbit hole of conspiracies and power struggle. However, it does not take being in a position of great power to see how feasible a truth like this may actually be. History too and most notably the French Revolution add credibility to such sentiment. Thoughts and ideas generate power and become the passion that drives great transformation. In the end we are only limited to what we believe.

A mantra is a vibration that is repeated over and over again. Sometimes mantras take the form of a single syllable word in Sanskrit, other times they take the forms of sentences and long stories in our native languages. “I can’t” is a mantra just as powerful as “I am”.

To truly wield our power in this world we must first recognize that we posses it. We must be curious and investigative; we must not take everything for face value. In exercising our unique and magnificent faculties of mind that allow us to compare, contrast, and know a difference, we can become more than mindless automatons and wield, with great skill our discerning thoughts into actions.

The world we live in today makes us incredibly powerful in as far as the availability and accessibility of information of all types, and how we choose to use it. It is therefore our great responsibility to use it to our advantage. If the world you look at appears to you as a world you do not want to see, there is great opportunity to evaluate why you see it the way you do, and determine if you are looking through a skewed lens.

Powerful ideas arise from the muck of skewed vision, just as a lotus rises from the scum at the bottom of the pond. Powerful ideas are what propel each and every one of us into the realization of our dreams, into the deep knowing of our resilience, into the greater expanded shapes of our freedom. Powerful ideas become the mantras that fuel our open courageous hearts. Powerful ideas change human kind and cannot be stopped by armies, governments, or those with dictatorial power, no matter the circumstances, they always find their way through, like light into the darkness.

May the ideas we share be a brilliant as our highest nature, full of courage, full of life empowering goodness, full of forgiveness, compassion, generosity, and love.

May our mantras convey to the world that we are the change we wish to see, and that change benefits everyone.

Love Always, in All Ways, For Giving, In joy,

Genevieve