Identity

I feel this week has been full of divisive rhetoric. This idea of identity was initially escalated with the President’s words around sending elected leaders back to where they came from, and then reinforced with media coverage of a rally, where some attendees were chanting, “Send her back!”

Sometimes our identity, or our grasping for identity, is a means for us to find a sense of community. An in-group can be desirable when you’re looking for connection, to be heard, seen, and respected. But not all of the qualities of that identity group apply to you. Not everyone has the same understanding of what it means to be X, Y, or Z. These labels can be as much of a constraint as they are a means of community.

When you desire community, ask yourself, “How do I feel?” In those moments, are you brave enough to voice your own feelings and thoughts to both yourself and another; create that opportunity for connection, and have the understanding from someone else, seeing you in your moment? This respect… this true understanding or NAMAS (reverence) of TE (another person i.e. YOU) is how we set intentions around NAMASTE.

Conflict Is Necessary

“…but it’s all empty”

Back to reality. While we may attempt to seek our own understanding of the world, today (12/19/2016) marks the official United States of America, electoral collect vote for Donald Trump as our next President of the United States.

Regardless of what side of the fence you’re on (or on top of), what’s done is done; however, our internal conflict will continue on.

Conflict is Necessary

Conflict is that feeling you get inside when your chest gets tight and you experience discomfort. During this election, we imagined conflict to be between our so-called tribes we formed behind our primary candidates: Clinton and Trump. One was meant to fight against the other, and ultimately there would be a winner in the end. But we’ve consistently gone through this process, even during our previous party elections. But in order to move forward, we had to open our ears and listen to the conflict from the other side.

What is the other side?

Well, in the examples above it could be the other side of the tribe (Clinton vs Trump) or it could be the discomfort you felt vs the comfort (or lack of discomfort) you had when your own boundaries had been pushed. Democracy is meant to suggest that we have choice, but there is always that struggle to get to a point of balance. You never get your way fully, right from the start. There is no binary choice; right versus wrong; good versus evil. Those are all judgements and projections that come from you, based on your experiences (karma).

What do we do next?

If your conflict feels so great that you cannot move on, then that firmly is a boundary, which may need more investigation. “Search your feelings,” Yoda says, and bring awareness to what is at the root of your conflict. Do you not feel safe? Do you not feel heard? Do you not feel respected? …the list goes on – then ask yourself, if other people may have similar feelings, but in different scenarios. The hardest thing to do is to empathize when you (personally) aren’t experiencing these things, or even when you do feel a certain way, but your mind is saying that you “should” be feeling something different.

Once you have a greater understanding of why you are in conflict, you can decide if it is worth taking action or not taking action regarding the conflict. Both are choices.

Considering the election, if you feel so strongly about the conflict, then it is up to you to focus your energy (prana) in a direction with which you can use your voice and your own experiences to educate those around you regarding civil equanimity. You must also keep in mind that people who are currently not empathizing with you will not likely be able to hold any space for your own conflict. You can educate yourself around civil process and also learn how to push system boundaries without causing harm to yourself or others. Our job then, is to wield compassion and teach compassion, so that one day our community is able to more easily hold space for one another.

Let there be conflict – For without conflict there would be fewer opportunities for compassion.

Election Prana

If you’re a yoga practitioner, you’ve already felt the external forces around you. It may seem like chaos. It may be full of concern, grief, and sadness. It may also be full of hate, fear, and attachment. This is when your practice matters most.

With so much external prana out there to influence you, whether or not it’s coming from Clinton or Trump supporters, it all is having some impact – it’s okay – you’re human – change is constant.

We can be grateful we can rely on the YAMAS for guidance:

  • Ahimsa
  • Satya
  • Asteya
  • Brahmacharya
  • Aparigraha

We can be grateful we can rely on the NIYAMAS for guidance:

  • Saucha
  • Santosha
  • Tapas
  • Svadhyaya
  • Ishvara Pranidhana

And we can be grateful we can recognize how the KLESHAS cloud our thoughts:

  • Avidya
  • Asmita
  • Raga
  • Dvesha
  • Abhinivesha

Feel what you feel and notice what comes up.

Take a deep breath.

Exhale.

Repeat and repeat and repeat…

Consider if it were a different situation, without the distractions from the election. Where would you connect within your practice? Return to YOGA.

What is spirituality?

We all ask ourselves at some point, “Why are things the way they are?” What drives the forces of nature and where did we come from? Some study the model of science or medicine; some believe in God; some believe in The Universe. Regardless of the explanation you apply, here is a reason for why we practice SPIRITUALITY.

You could study things at the atomic level, zooming in on the relationships between sub-atomic particles and their infinite results. You could even zoom out to the expansive universe, containing many multiple galaxies, all pulling one another towards greater masses – this ever changing blob of energy. But neither of them are very functional in our daily reality, especially when it comes to making decisions. We can observe these relationships through our five sense, and with modern tools, measure these things through a particular lens we understand (i.e. quantifiable). What is missing, though, is the REAL YOU

Once you introduce yourself to these observations, our inherent nature likes to place judgement on these situations. This vicious cycle is what prompts our suffering, and continues to pull you away from your true self. So you might ask, “What is your true self?” Many philosophies will say your true self is your ONE-ness or unity with the universe. Many religions will say GOD or your unity with GOD.

While people can debate which belief is right, the common theme, though, falls back to the relationship that you have with a broader idea: something outside of your SELF. This forces you to contemplate your role within this world. If you choose to stay within the facade of observation using your five senses, you’ll likely continue to place judgements to those situations and feed your own suffering. Consider what happens once the “shininess” of your ego fades, and the situation changes…

If you seek a reality with less suffering – enter spirituality. Spirituality isn’t made up of the woo-woo ideas of fairies and magic, but merely the feelings you have once you understand the reasoning of your heart. Spirituality gives you purpose to not just experience, but also hold space for other’s experiences of the heart. Once you can feel, unabashed, you can connect to your true self without the judgements of yourself and others driving your actions. And henceforth, work to allow the same for others in your community.

Spirituality = Root Feelings + Compassion

Once you truly feel from the heart, given the freedom to experience that which isn’t judged, can you then see what is the essence of our nature.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Sandwiches

IMG_4264

Total Time: 30 Minutes
Preparation/Assembly: 10 Minutes
Cooking: 20 Minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

1 Large Sweet Potato or Yam
1 Avocado
1 Heirloom Tomato
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Handful Walnuts
1 Bunch Basil Leafs
1 Tablespoon Grated Non-Dairy Hard Cheese
1 Loaf of Bread (Gluten-Free or not)
1 Cup of Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Skin sweet potatoes and slice to 1/4 inch thickness
  3. In a mixing bowl, add in 1/2 cup of olive oil, plus salt & pepper to taste
  4. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and bake in oven for 20 minutes or until fully tender
  5. Slice avocado, red bell pepper, heirloom tomato and set to side
  6. Slice and toast bread
  7. Prepare the bread by spreading even amounts of pesto*
  8. Layer on avocado, tomatoes, peppers, and lastly sweet potatoes

*Pesto

  1. In a blender, combine remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, handful of walnuts, bunch of basil and cheese
  2. Blend on medium until fully mixed
  3. Add salt to taste

Note: Many store bought pestos and jarred/canned goods will contain garlic and onions for preservation. So be careful if you are trying to stick to a non-allium diet to avoid stringent sulfurs and the like…

Bon Appetit!