Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
I’ve never considered myself an activist. My yoga practice has always been a source of calm and peace, helping me navigate the world with compassion and understanding of our humanity. Not really an agent of big change or sweeping reform. Plus, the vision I had of an activist was someone angry with their face set in a frown, a furrowed brow, and fists in the air demanding someone listen to them! Not really my style. Although I applaud them and am glad there are those of us on the planet with this dharma, I didn’t see myself among them. I also felt helpless. It seems there is SO MUCH WRONG in the world, where would little ‘ol me start, and what could I really do?
Then Sera Bonds of Circle of Health International (COHI) told me I was an activist. What? I don’t think so. Lemme think about that...
In yoga practice and meditation, we often draw ourselves into our heart, our inner sanctum. Those of you who have practiced this for a while might agree that it’s lovely in there. It’s an escape. It can be a peaceful sanctuary in a tough and busy world. Also, as humans, most of us are seeking happiness. As Swami Muktananda puts it, “happiness lies within.” If we can leave our attachments in the outer world and go inside, true and lasting happiness can be found.
Then on February 14, 2018, there was the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Seeking happiness started to feel trite. The inner sanctum as a retreat did not feel right.
I began to realize that if we draw ourselves to our heart, it’s not to go to the inner sanctum and stick our head in the sand and say, “ah, it’s cool in here.” It’s that we go to the inner sanctum where things aren’t so messy, so that we can respond with clarity. We can respond to the world through love, not hatred. From there, the uprising that comes is not, “I’m going to change this and use my fists and fight against it.” It’s, “I’m going to help change this because I love people so deeply.”
We go into the heart not just to be happy, but so that we can respond to the world through wisdom and love and STILL be an agent of change. Rather than go in and get complacent, we go in and find deep abiding joy and love, as well as clarity on right action. We go to the inner sanctum not to get stuck, but to go in there and realize, “Oh, ok. I know what to do. I know how to love so hard that it will change things.”
That will look different for each of us. Some of us are called to global activism, some of us take small actions that have a ripple effect. We are anywhere along that spectrum. And we are ALL activists. As Sera puts it,
“We do it through choices we make: where to shop, what to drive, how to vote, where to pray, who to marry, what to eat. Some of us also do this work through organized social and political actions, some of us want to do this but don't know where to start.”
On April 29th, you have an opportunity to ask your deepest, wisest Self, “What can I do? What am I passionate about? What can I offer the world? Where do I start?” Join us for an Activism: On and Off Your Mat Retreat at Yoga Yoga Westlake. Sera and I aim to help you on this journey. I will guide yoga and meditation towards the stillness of the heart, and Sera will help us all create our own mission statement for the change we want to be in the world. And there’s a freebie! COHI is providing one free activism kit for each participant in the day-long retreat, a $25 value!
Hopefully you will finish the day feeling clear, loving, passionate, and empowered. I look forward to walking the path of yoga and activism with you!
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.