The world is collapsing/Around our ears/I turned up the radio/But I can't hear it
~REM, Radio Song
What do we do when the world seems to be falling apart? We feel overwhelmed, helpless, despairing, angry. Where do we turn when faced with injustice? What can we do to make a difference? Sometimes talking about Yoga seems frivolous in a world where so many are suffering. Sometimes exploring spiritual teachings seems egregious when the reality of our world is so harsh. Self-exploration sometimes seems selfish and indulgent, but when done with integrity, it could be the first, and most essential, step on the path of showing up for the suffering of the entire planet. At Vira Bhava Yoga, we have a commitment to not turn away. We effort to stay aware of the atrocities of our current era, and to show up in the world in our wholeness. This wholeness includes our brokenness, our blind spots, our wounds, and our willingness to learn, to listen, to understand. Where in the world is Vira Bhava Yoga? I hope you will find us everywhere, in every situation, refusing to deny what is real and true for everyone, and refusing to hate and divide. We aim to practice our YOGA in every situation, even amidst discomfort, conflict and shame.
Our Civil Disobedience is to refuse to Hate. Can we be strong enough to hold all the injustice and know it’s wrong while simultaneously being empathetic and compassionate to those who are the source of wrongdoing? Can we accept that many who stand in power right now are also little boys and girls who are wounded and afraid? Everybody is wounded, even the most balanced and together of us has pain, fear, and shame. We cannot heal on demand. Healing requires understanding. We cannot be shamed into our growth. We cannot damn our pain and expect to transcend it. Healing takes place when we apply compassion to the places that we would rather not see. When we listen when we would rather turn and run. We all have a basic need to be heard and understood, and when our needs aren’t met, we create strategies to deal with our pain. The strategies we learn are often modeled in our environment by the ones we trust the most. Unfortunately, the trusted ones are also wounded, afraid, and ashamed. And the cycle continues, on and on.
What if we stopped making enemies? Really. What if we refused to hate someone else’s expression of pain and entrapment? We don’t have to like it, and we most definitely don’t have to agree with it, but what if we REFUSED to hate the person. This is how transformation occurs. As long as our pain and fear are satiated by others’ feelings of pain and fear, we are polarized. This polarization is the opposite of YOGA. How can we hear each other rather than shout at each other? When we begin to understand that everyone is trapped, we establish common ground to stand on that can lead to understanding.
We are in a hole of our own creation. A hole of dichotomization, dehumanization, right and wrong, good and bad. We no longer care how we got here, we no longer see how we are digging. We are climbing all over each other trying to escape from this hole of hatred and fear, and all we are doing is making it bigger. The hole is just getting bigger and bigger and the attempt to get out of the hole is getting nastier and nastier. And the truth is simple, yet very hard to hear, the hole that we are trying so desperately to climb out of is inside of ourselves. We cannot climb out. To escape, we can only turn around and crawl in. If we focus all of our energy outside of ourselves, we turn away from the source of the separation. We cannot avoid this hole by changing the world. We can only find common ground by changing ourselves. This is where the work must begin. On the inside. This is where we must turn if we wish to survive.
Can we bring our YOGA to the fight? Can we understand that we are essentially united? The right and the wrong, the fear and the trust, the suffering and the freedom. If we are practicing YOGA, truly, we must connect to the source of our pain and disillusionment in order to understand it rather than disconnect and demand it disappear. Can we remember our essential humanness, can we be compassionate, even when our behaviors and actions make it seemingly impossible? Can we untether ourselves from the anchor of HATE and allow ourselves to shatter? This is the essence of spiritual practice.
Can we allow ourselves to release the security of the dichotomy? Can we choose to be adrift in the unknown and TRUST that the path that we are on is one of transformation and a shifting paradigm? Can we be open to riding the current, and trusting that we can swim indefinitely, no matter how far away we get from the familiarity and security of the shore. The shore is an illusion, and our gripping to it, our desperate clinging onto the faith that everything is going to be ok, is part of the problem.
Let’s let go of having faith. Faith is what we are told to have against our better judgement. Faith is the attachment to outcome, the grip of expectation. I played with faith for years, and it made me more afraid. Faith made me cling desperately to the outcome for proof of its existence. Then, through the quintessential rock bottom path, I learned how to TRUST, and I’ve never had to have faith again. Faith is something that keeps us in this cycle of looking to something outside of ourselves to come save us and keeps us bound into the cycle of unworthiness and insecurity. Faith is believing, and trust is knowing. And there is a huge gap between the two. Trust says, ‘I don’t need to be safe, this is where I am, this is the decision I made, and this is the result of my decision.” Trust says, “I know it’s going to be okay because I am strong enough to follow this path I have created.” Trust allows us a sovereignty and strength that can only come from inside. Trust is understanding what’s real and engaging with it. Trust denies nothing. Faith has put others in power. Faith has burdened us with the hope that everything will get better and incapacitated us to make actual changes for ourselves.
Faith is credulous and trust is decisive. We must decide how we will show up. We must decide what it will take for us to sustain. We must find the truth that is sourced from within, that cannot be influenced by outside opinion, and then lean into it when we hear the opinions of others. When we trust our own truth, when we trust our right to be in the world, regardless of the evidence that we are shown, or the challenges we face, we are no longer a victim to our lives, our circumstances, our misunderstanding. This is YOGA. This is how VBY is showing up in the world. This is the foundation that will liberate us from hate and bridge the gap between the spectrum of differences. This is what will suture the wounds of our pain and separation.
If you’ve made it this far, then you must prepare for what’s next. The state of the world is YOUR practice. The way things are is YOUR story. TRUST that you are essential, even if imperfect, and that your contribution to the world is important, necessary. Faith is the most powerful tool of the patriarchy, and if you choose to trust instead, then you will experience the power of your own liberation.
Be cautious of your judgments. Let them be an indicator of things we have yet to learn. Don’t condemn yourself or others for their feelings. FEEL the FEELINGS, and recognize them as your own compass, then trust yourself to right your course. REFUSE to oppress, and if you are shown the error of your ways, give thanks rather than feel shame. Give thanks that you can learn more, do better, trust yourself. The strongest people fighting oppression know who they are. Because they know who they are, they can know who you are too. They can hear the stories of others, they can listen. When we can all know who we are, and trust in ourselves, we can celebrate our differences together. Knowing ourselves allows us the power to make radical choices, to be humble, to learn from our mistakes, and make changes.
So where is Vira Bhava Yoga in the world? I trust that we are in the moments of compassion beyond hate, in the moments of vehement disagreement where we choose to be still and listen. The essence of a warrior, the courage and integrity of Vira Bhava will never be easy, it will be a life altering path that requires resilience, forgiveness, and compassion. Though the movement may be small right now, I hope that we will see Vira Bhava Yogis everywhere in the months and years to come. REFUSING to hate and doing the never-ending work of growth and evolution for themselves and for humanity. Click here to find out if Vira Bhava Yoga is in your area!