perspective

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

You

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You. You are who you are. Though there are many other people on this planet and even many who may be like you in more ways than one, yet you are the only you there is. All of who you are is the gift that makes up your contribution to the shared experience of life we are all having together. It is your responsibility to honor who you are. You are you and only you can be you. Trust that in honoring who you are you will find your way more deeply and lovingly everyday into a state of more sincere gratitude. Honestly express yourself, honestly listen to your needs, honestly honor your boundaries and permit yourself to really feel the experience of life that only you will have. Give of yourself authentically. Listen with all your sensory perception to the world beneath and beyond the surface of your skin and express openly your genuine response to this ever changing animate reality. Being generous of yourself with yourself in effect permits others to do the same through your example, and through the your connection to your heart. Know your heart, feel it, trust it, listen to it, be honest about what you hear there and respond with gratitude and generosity, this is living in presence this is intimacy. Have courage that you are enough, be confident that where you feel lacking you can gain, and where you feel in excess you can temper with peaceful moderation. Remember that while you are you, no one else is you, and therefore your point of view is just that, your own. Perspective and the awareness of the many points of perspective in any situation or circumstance is sometimes the most valuable gift of spaciousness you can give yourself. Set your sights on your intentions from your authentic perspective not someone else's. Invite your energy to always move forward toward your goals by holding a perspective that supports your ultimate success, and always get up after you fall. Commit to yourself, commit to your heart, commit to your intentions and goals, eventually you will arrive upon the doorstep of your most true content. Never forget you are the only you. Never forget that just like you everyone else is doing their best to arrive on the doorstep of their truest content too. If, along the journey of your life you get confused about who you are and what makes your heart sing know you are not alone. Look to the people around you and know that they too have questioned, they too have hurt, and they too have set goals that seemed impossible to reach. Hold yourself with love, and hold your neighbors to. You are love, and loving is what you do.

You. You are who you are. You are perfect. You are enough, right now, today.

With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, In Joy!

Genevieve

The Key to a Flexible Mind

?????????????????? For all the greatness of a human mind, all its ability to rationalize and discern, categorize and understand, it is a wonder that in all the years of our evolution as a species, rigid thought has not been superseded by more flexible ways of perceiving the world. Within the confines of our minds are the wondrous labyrinths of our perceptions of reality, sometimes laid out without question, other times set very deliberately. So very often, no matter the creation of ones formations of neural pathways, as rigid thinkers we become so unwavering in our beliefs about reality that in a myopic view we close ourselves to a potential truth, or perspective, that would enable far greater peace and happiness in our lives than the restrictive versions of principles we have chosen to live by.

The common misunderstanding that flexible is a term only useful to express the truth of the agility and length of ones muscles and physical body is a clear example of such a rigid perception. This term does delineate such truth, yet flexibility is a truth of the mind as much as it is muscular and connective tissues. Well into the 1960's existed another common misbelief that the brain could only change during infancy and childhood, despite this rigid way of thinking, great and searching minds in science have revealed neuroplasticity or cortical remapping of the brain, also referred to as brain plasticity, and have thus confirmed the human brains ability to change and adapt throughout the duration of ones entire life. This is why conversations about brainwashing thrill me. Unlike many conceptions of what it is to be brainwashed I personally see the potential of a positive venture aside from the very destructive nature most commonly alluded to when referenced. Brainwashing, when done with great mindfulness and care on ones own mind can effectively lead to more dexterous mental acrobatics, spacious understanding, mental flexibility, and ultimately fluidity of brain plasticity. Fundamentally, it does not matter what we call it, brainwashing or otherwise, attention and intention are all that is required to see the world from a more spacious, and open point of view.

Any time we catch ourselves becoming rigid in a thought, a belief, an opinion, a perception of the world, is the most advantageous time for us to reflect, postulate, and try to expand our perspective to see what we call in that moment truth, from another vantage point. Not to say that there will not be times when we are speaking a truth, however what is true for one is not always true for the many, and at the end of a long day of postulating the truth, one may only find that there is only one truth, and that truth is that everything is always changing.

The earth is not flat, nor is it the center of the solar system, yet there was a time when this was considered to be the truth. A matter of perspective can negate all truths, and though some may stand strong today, they may be negated as soon as tomorrow.

Intention is a stretching out of attention, a focusing of where the awareness for a period of time will be placed. If there is no intention, nor attention, to thought or action, the habit of falling into rigid thinking and acting will not be avoided. It is therefor in ones best interests to intend toward a mindfulness of thoughts, words, and actions to move away from rigidity and narrow myopic perspective. To know when we are only stating our opinion of life and reality as we perceive it in the moment we are perceiving it, to know when we could be or are wrong, is a far more comfortable and compassionate knock on an ego and a powerful mind than being proven blatantly wrong in private or public. I speak from experience.

Knowing this, attention to our words and thoughts leaves us far more room to compassionately and empathetically respond in our awareness of other peoples apparent faulty perspectives, opinions, beliefs, and principles, for we see our own so much more often and so much more clearly.

Perhaps it is time for us all to take a cue from Mark Twain, who encouraged taking ones mind out and dancing on it, to take some of the rigidity out of it.

In the end then the key to a flexible mind is a soft one.

With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, Genevieve

photo copyright mindtuts.com