January 15, 2014

How Punk Rock Helped Shape the Yogi I am Today.

Caution: f-bombs below! 

Long before I would press my palms together at my heart center and utter the word “Namaste,” I would throw my fist into the air and shout “Oi!”

Hell, some days I still pump my fist into the air and shout, “Oi!”

I found punk rock in my youth, and it helped shape me into the person I am today. Sure, there are many different music genres, all of them containing songs and artists conveying both positive and negative messages, but it’s punk that seized a strong hold on my heart.

Many of the songs I loved as a kid still resonate with me today, but I’d like to share four songs which communicate a powerful, positive message. (Disclaimer: you may hear a “naughty” word or two among them, but keep in mind—this is punk fucking rock. It’s full of emotion, angst, sincerity and passion. So please excuse the “shits” and the occasional F-bombs.)

The Queers—I Won’t Be.

If you look in my high school yearbook, underneath my senior portrait, you will see my favorite quote listed as: “I won’t be, no one but me.” ~ Joe Queer

This is step one. Loving yourself. Self-acceptance. Everyone feels like the odd one out at one time or another. This is ok. Embrace it. Love whatever it is that makes you different and sets you apart from the rest.

Joe Queer sings, “I won’t be a Grateful Dead freak, that shit makes me puke. I won’t be your boyfriend because I just can’t stand you. I won’t be… I won’t be… I won’t be no one but me.”

The lyrics are painfully simple, but the takeaway message here is: Hey! Don’t do anything you don’t want to do! You don’t have to conform. Just be you. And don’t apologize for it. If someone else doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.

That’s what I took away, at least. If you’re not a Queers fan, I believe Shakespeare also conveyed this punk rock message in his Hamlet play— “To thine own self be true…”

Moving right along, once you have learned to love and accept yourself, the next step is learning to love and accept others. Even if they are different than you. After all, deep down, we are all the same. We all love, and we all hurt and we all have to live on this planet together.

Suicide Machines—Face Values.

I fucking love this song. I used to skank my little heart out to it. This song touches on the self-love as well, but also promotes the idea that we are all different and we should all accept each other.

“Alright, no need to fight, ’cause everybody’s different and there’s nothin you can do about it…Just because I don’t look like you, or act like you, it doesn’t make me any better or worse!”

Yes, punk rock gives a place to go when we feel ostracized from everyone else. But it also reminds us: Hey, don’t be an asshole.

If we are all going to exist together, it’s about tolerance. And again, marching to the beat of your own drum. Others may not like you for being tolerant and accepting of someone else who is “weird.” But ya just gotta let that shite roll of your back…

“You hate yourself cause you’re not like them… well understand that this is wrong

You’re better off doing your own thing, being yourself and being strong.”

Which takes us to…

Operation Ivy—Unity.

“There ain’t nothing wrong… with another Unity song.” Ain’t it the truth!

Jesse Michaels growls,

“All so different yeah I say were all the same

All caught you know in the division game

Self destruction fast impending like a bullet

No one can stop it once its fired no one can control it.”

This is more than just an anti-war song. (Although, ya gotta love a good anti-war song. I mean, really? Violence and destruction? Is that the answer? Is that what’s gonna save us all?) But beyond wars on the grand scale, there are the wars going on between individuals. Whether it’s one kid teasing another kid on the playground or political parties arguing over who can love who, perhaps if we all practiced a little Unity, we could all co-exist in a peaceful, meaningful way.

I’m gonna wrap things up with my all-time favorite punk anthem.

Sink With Kalifornia—Youth Brigade.

Whenever I hear the familiar opening guitar chords, I just want to raise a glass and throw an arm around whoever is next to me in camaraderie, as we sing along with Shawn Stern:

“Well I’ve been around the country and I’ve met a lot of kids, some kids are smart and some kids are dumb but I don’t pass judgment they’re just having fun! Some kids get fucked up and others refrain but that’s what makes the world so great no one should be the same… The kids are the future you can see it in their eyes, they must overcome nationality if the world is to survive.”

What the Brigade is telling us here is that it doesn’t matter where you hail from… what city or what country or whatever. We are all part of humanity. We all succeed, or we sink and fail together.

Again, it’s about unity. Tolerance. Acceptance. It’s about staying true to yourself, showing compassion for others and fighting the good fight.

Hey! That all sounds pretty yogic, doesn’t it? Ahimsa? Non-violence towards others, and also self-love. What about Satya? Speaking the truth and  staying true to oneself. And of course, Tapas. That fiery passion. Taking a stand for what you believe in full force and not letting anyone break your spirit.

Those O.G. punks were yogis at heart! Planting seeds of ahimsa, satya and tapas in young hearts, including my own. Those ideals at the heart of the punk rock are in line with yogic practices. How badass is that?

Let’s all keep fighting the good fight.

Oi! And Namaste.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: courtesy of the author

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