Walking home from teaching yoga tonight under the street lamps, like every night.
There is a warm glow to the light of the street lamps, and a faint chill in the fall air. It is a whimsical combination. Romantic. I take the same path home every night, down a busy street in the centre of the city. I pass many different people along my path, sometimes the same people, sometimes-different people.
Tonight is no exception.
I look ahead to see a girl coming down the street in the opposite direction that I am going. Immediately I think to take a wider berth, to avoid coming too near to this girl as we pass one another. She is younger than I am; clothes tattered, hair unkempt, carrying a bag of recyclable bottles.
Instantly, I observe the sensations in my body. I notice no instinctual, physical reaction to this girl. This is not a flight response; I am not in danger of being harmed. This reaction is a conditioning of the mind. I stay my course, and as I pass this girl I meet her eyes and smile.
This is my practice, to acknowledge everyone I see with my eyes, and to smile.
It has been my practice for some time and it should not change for anyone. As I walk on I wonder, ‘how will this action change the world?’
This subtle communication through body,
an acknowledgement of another as no less than anyone else,
the light in me sees the light in you,
we are the same.
Perhaps these slight and subtle actions, over time, will culminate in great change. As we continue to acknowledge our sameness, and not our differences, perhaps then we can change the world.
I realize that it is the practice of yoga, which so quickly enabled me, in an instant, to observe and understand the sensations in my body. Immediately I understood that the reaction I had upon seeing that girl walking in my direction was a social conditioning of my mind, an old pattern, one that needed to be let go of.
It is the practice of yoga, the physical posture practice, breathing and meditation that created my gateway for observation. The girl I passed on the street will likely never remember me; she might not have even really seen me in the first place. It was not about her, it was about me.
Thus, this is how we will change the world.
When every individual can become acutely aware of who they are, and why they are here, they become empowered with the responsibility to live these truths outright.
The practice of every individual will change the collective reality of the world for all.
In that sense then, as a yoga teacher, it is my responsibility to hold space for practitioners. It is my responsibility to share the practice, the physical asana, pranayama, meditation and the story about passing the girl on the street and other stories about likeness.
It is also my job to hold the space for the practitioners to practice, to observe, to question who they are and why they are here.
It is not for me to tell anyone what to do or how to do it.
There is no right way.
I must simply share the practice and hold the space.
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Assist Ed: Sanja Cloete-Jones/Ed: Bryonie Wise