August 30, 2014

Let’s Make the World our Yoga Mat.

Nikto Shlavic/Flickr

Each generation must create its own authentic expression of spiritual wisdom.

Our generation, our time, is calling us to participate wholeheartedly in social and political life, to evolve the ideal of yogi as “aloof witness” to yogi as “passionate advocate for peace, freedom and social justice.”

The task of the modern yogi, the contemporary sage, the modern mystic, is to embody love, wisdom and compassion in equal measure with personal responsibility, strength and skill.

I believe all yogis, regardless of other differences, share a transcendent longing to “yoga,” to yoke, to join: mind with silence, matter with emptiness, body with spirit, self with other, heart with action.

We want to mix all our separate parts until we become one within our self and with all of creation. We want to experience and express our wholeness of being and connection to others.

And so we practice.

And then one day, our practice ripens: suddenly everything is in perfect relationship and balance. We enter a timeless and weightless world of presence and beauty, a world of naturalness and ease. Eternal stillness, simple pleasure—and joy, as though hundreds of children had come alive in our soul, singing and playing and coloring way outside the lines of convention.

Everything sparkles after this ripeness has fallen from the boughs of aspiration and practice to the here-and-now ground at our feet. Tiny lights flicker from within things we’d never even noticed before. We feel a bond of friendship towards everyone. A deep calm pumps something wonderful throughout our body and mind.

There is a tenderness and respect towards others, isn’t there? And we know that we are always and forever joined with this wonderful presence that saturates and sustains all human beings and all beings in creation, equally. Thank you yoga, thank you meditation, thank you practice—for these sublime treasures.

Now, it is time to bring this beauty into the world.

We have to bring our practice to the world outside our yoga studios. Now we must practice with and for others, for the world, because the world needs us. The world needs what we have been studying and practicing: clarity, stillness, insight, strength, kindness, tolerance, patience, empathy, authenticity, simplicity and courage.

I ask you to turn your steady gaze and deep concentration to the world around you. I ask you to beautify the world with the inner beauty you have been building for years. In the same way we have opened to the deep dimensions of the inner world, I ask you to open to the broad expanse of the outer world, from which we are not separate. We cannot hide from this world, nor escape it, nor transcend it. We can only embrace it and love it and beautify it. Now is the time for this asana.

The freedom, balance, beauty and sanctity we have found on the inside are being threatened on the outside. Things are very unstable: collectively, we are not sitting upright nor holding a steady posture. We have to work together to make this situation better. We can do it. It is ours to do. This is why we have been practicing. For ourselves, yes; and now for others and the world.

We cannot have a true practice if it excludes the world. The inner and the outer are more than mirror images of each other: they are each other. There is no separation, no difference, no distance between them.

This is what our ripe practice teaches us. We cannot have inner freedom without freedom in the world. We cannot have inner peace without peace in the world. We cannot have love, or kindness or joy—if we do not actualize these qualities in the world.

Let us join together and create this new world, and together let us beautify and sanctify it with our love, care and attention. Let us roll our mats out across the entire world, so the gifts we receive from yoga can be our gifts to the world.

How? Where? When?

As on our first day in yoga, we give ourselves to the practice. We show up. We persevere. Sometimes we are lost, sometimes not. We find our way by staying with it. We learn by doing. Our readiness and willingness to show up and get on the mat everyday is what counts. Same for the yoga mat of the world. Maybe it’s in your own home, community, city.

You decide where you want to practice and where you want to give your gifts.

Let’s keep our hearts open to the world, our eyes open to what’s around us and our resolve to engage and be counted.




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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Nikto Shlavic/Flickr



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