As I walked down the street in Venice beach last week, I decided I would see how many people I could make eye contact with and smile. Maybe it was out of boredom, or my intention of playfulness, my break from leaving the labels and responsibilities of wife, mother, serial entrepreneur behind. I began my practice. Inhale, turn up the corners of my mouth, retain, make eye-contact, exhale. Don’t be attached to the results. The passerby’s expressions varied. Some appeared irritated and annoyed, others gave me a double eyebrow raise. Most people, even the seemingly crazy homeless person, lit up at the interaction. With so many smiles reciprocated I felt a surge of Shakti in my heart. I began to feel a little selfish or the little bit of energy that it took fme to make this gesture of acknowledgement, giving me a renewed energy that was much better than the green juice I had for breakfast. There is something about a smile that reflects instant connection and familiarity.
A week prior, I was part of a yoga flash mob during Occupy Fort Wayne. As we walked up with our yoga mats, laid them down silently and began our Surya Namaskar C, I witnessed the contrast in our energy and the occupiers’. I sensed anger and frustration even before the shouting and fists raised up in the atmosphere. It would have been easy for me to become emotionally swept up in their pain and frustration, but instead we chose to begin our practice. As we finished the sun salutations and sat in meditation, the occupiers chanted for all people to take a stand. We sat in stillness. We were there to show our support and to be an example of a different way of revolting. Yoga teaches us to be so firmly grounded in peace that we could be in the middle of a lion and a zebra and all will be still.
I’ve attended some yoga workshops and trainings lately with a similar message. Both my teachers Shiva Rea and Wade Morissette exclaiming, “occupy your bodies!” Yes! Different classes, same message. We went around our circle and spoke out our intentions. Many of the students’ desires revolved around something outside of themselves…. the partner, the family, the lover, the beloved. Loneliness is evident living in this fast past society of computer generated relationships. We have all figured out how to be heard through Facebook, emails, and blogs. To me, nothing is as powerful as the simplicity of sharing a smile with a stranger that is transformed into a friend. This is true ahimsa, non-violence. We have a longing for touch and interaction other than the pressing of our fingertips on the buttons of our keyboards. We search for the lover, the beloved, the cause that makes us overflow with emotion. Occupy your smile. Bow to the cause and to the beloved that reminds you to take action. As I walked by many different faces, I was grateful to those in passing that helped me remember that we are all divine and we possess all that we need.
What if we all gazed into each others’ eyes and smiled? That’s what I call a revolution.
How often one sees people looking far and wide for what they are holding in their hands? Why! I am doing it myself at this very moment. ~Augustus
Dani is a yoga teacher and asana addict that loves Love, Life, Family, Food, God, and, of course, Yoga. “Since I am unable to quiet the mental chatter and control thirst for earthly pleasures I live, write, and laugh and my human-ness.” Dani leads yoga workshops and teacher trainings, and is the founder of Pranayoga Foundation, a nonprofit teaching yoga to people with cancer and chronic illness. For more about Dani check out danimcguire.com and pranayogafoundation.org.