Days like today tickle my philosophical mind. Happy 4th of July!
I grew up talking history with my father. He would debate political issues with me, and listen to me, patiently, when I stumbled through half-baked ideas. As I moved into adulthood these debates became more and more heated, and there were times in my coming of age when I felt that there could be no common ground. Now, as an adult, we still enter lively debate, but I see that we have so much in common. He says that I am simply understanding more because I am older and have life experience.
Maybe that's true.
But, also, in the heart we both want for the same things, even if our ideas of how to achieve them seem wildly different.
Today is a beautiful day when I am able to celebrate the joy and honor it is to be a citizen of the United States of America. A guiding principle of this country is our shared belief that all people are created equal. We don't always do it perfectly, but it is something worth striving to find.
In yoga, it is the same. The word 'Yoga' itself which means 'to yoke' or more commonly 'union'. Seeing the sameness in our mind-body connection, as well as our sameness with others. I feel an added layer of intimacy when equal is viewed through the lens of 'same'. Recognizing that I am no different that others, and protecting this ideal, provides a pathway to Freedom. My freedom is contingent on the freedom of my neighbors because we are one in the same.
It would be naive to say that's easy. Most often it is the opposite. History has taught us that Freedom is hard to defend, and even the idea of being on the defensive causes us to armor our hearts for conflict.
But, not every day is made for fighting. When a fight it not the answer but the itchiness of separateness seems to create a widening gap between us and others, Yoga invites us to put down righteous arguments and seek a middle way which leads by example. The Yogic traditions also give us another word to guide us along this journey of recognizing sameness, Upeksha, or equanimity. This is a balanced approach to having a heartfelt approach to all beings, where our mind, and body may be stirred into action when we witness injustice, but our state of being is not so disrupted to the point that we lash out in rash or unwise ways. We are able to approach all experiences, all people, without preferences clouding our judgement or fear cupping our eyes into the retreat of wishing the present moment was anything other than it is. When the moment is not so dire that a fight is necessary, we are invited to moderate our response seeing disagreements with a cool, level head even while striving towards a more ideal future.
I find this wisdom so poignant today, of all days, when it would be easy to feel torn from neighbors and loved ones that might think differently about the current state of affairs. It can be hard to listen to an opposing view and trust that they have equal right to that view, and also that deep down that we are more alike than we are different.
What a worthwhile meditation! Let's stay awake to the common ground we can all find on this special holiday.
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Bend Into Shape
For people who love dogs, yoga, good food and/or great parties ... that covers everyone right?