In order to be service to others we must deal with our own issues.
This past July I had one of the most amazing weeks of my life at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. Omega is set in the woods with a beautiful campus filled with nature.
Every morning I would take a walk through the Omega Garden listening to nature. In the evenings I browsed the library and bookstore, or had a cup of green tea in the café. My favorite activity was taking meditation class at the Sanctuary, a tranquil place to sit with nature and reflect.
I attended the Off The Mat Leadership training taught by Seane Corn, Hala Khouri and Suzanne Sterling. The purpose of the workshop was to learn how to be a conscious activist, the practice of making a positive change in the world that starts within you from a centered and grounded place.
Every morning our yoga practice allowed us to feel and release our emotions.
In the afternoon we had many discussions, ranging from dealing with our emotions, communications and activism. One of my favorite parts was when Suzanne led us through dance, music and singing, which allowed us to explore our feelings, give acknowledgement and celebrate the moment.
I came away with many lessons, such as mirroring difficult conversations and staying grounded, centered and oriented in all situations. These tools can be applied to all areas of our lives including activism. I am proud to be part of this community of yoga activists. This experience has helped me grow as a yogini, activist and writer.
Seane is one of the co-founders of OTM, an organization that bridges the yoga community with activism. The leadership training is designed to help yogis find and define their purpose through yoga, meditation and journaling. In the process they also learn organizational skills and how to obtain resources to become activists in their own community.
Yoga can also help us focus our minds on what’s important to us and make us aware of ourselves.
Many people, such as myself, practice karma yoga, which is the practice of selfless action. This is also referred to as yoga activism, which is when individuals take their yoga practice off of the mat into their daily lives.
Within yoga activism, there are some key values to guide you through your adventure in life. One example is compassion while showing love to others and yourself. Another is learning how to forgive yourself and others, so that you live and move on from the past with love and forgiveness.
The third value is to always have faith that everything will work out the way it is supposed to and to always believe in yourself, others and a higher power. The next goal is to treat yourself and others equally, and remember that we are all different and unique in our own ways. It is also important to always be honest with yourself and others. Finally, it is the practice of helping others through volunteer work, because nothing is more valued than the feeling of helping somebody else.
With these values, yoga activism can be fulfilled with the following strategies, such as meditating to bring your mind to focus on what is important to you and how you want to help others. Another method is to be creative in how you want to achieve your purpose and goals.
It is important to know your purpose, set your goals with an action plan and always dream beyond your horizons.
Every day I achieve my purpose through writing my column about disability issues and volunteering with different disability organizations. My dream is to become a stronger disability advocate and reach more readers with my words. I am proud to be a columnist, a disability advocate and a yoga activist with the sole purpose of representing and working for people with disabilities.
Carrie Barrespski is living her truth as a yogini, writer and activists with passion and purpose. She lives with multiple disabilities including cerebral palsy, hearing loss and blindness. As a result of these disabilities and the experiences she’s encountered, she developed a strong passion for disability rights and advocating for the disable. She graduated with a BSW from Madonna University in 1996. Having always been interested in writing since childhood, she began writing columns online in 2000 on topics affecting the disabled community. She was married in 2005 after meeting her husband online in a chat room for people with hearing loss. When she moved to Massachusetts, the Springfield Republican began publishing her column, Carrie Writes, every Wednesday in the Metro Plus section. It is her hope that as a result of her columns, people will be more aware of disability issues and she will have a positive impact on the disabled community.
Editor: Sara McKeown