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July 6th, 2011

Manduka Goes To Wanderlust Vermont!

So I just got back from Wanderlust Vermont (ENORMOUS thanks to Manduka for giving away tickets so I could have this opportunity) and am simply blown away by the power of this yoga community. Even articulating it may prove difficult.

Every class reverberated with synchronicity. I brought up the desire for more JOY, unconditional joy, and the next class was about joy. I was dwelling on purpose, and how to bring a vision to fruition and the next sequence of a class was about envisioning that purpose unfolding. A random dude came up to Kendra and me to ask if he could recite his poetry (these things happen at yoga festivals) and the entire poem was about a flower that has served as a metaphor for my whole life. Ok – that one doesn’t sound so incredible but trust me – it was. It’s the feeling of being in the right place at the right time, and then a long series of those moments. Reminds me of a Death Cab lyric I used to love, ”a series of blurs,” only this was exactly the opposite: a sequence of moments strung together by grace and in perfect clarity.

One practice on Friday led by Seane Corn – wow, she is powerful! – directed us toward being prayerful in our practice, prayerful toward our own needs, the needs of those in our immediate circle, and in the world at large. One instruction really hit me – it was to do that next sun salutation in honor of someone hurting, someone who doesn’t realize the truth of who they are, their worth, their beauty, their radiance. As I worked my way through that saluation my brain was scanning hard to select a person to direct that energy – you are LOVED and worthy of LOVE – and I quickly was overcome with emotion.

There are SO so many of us in need of that message. My mind couldn’t rest on just one person. Instead, a circle of people I know and love and to whom I want to deliver that message – all standing in a circle. And then another circle of people I don’t know, or don’t know well. Among them – folks in my immediate community: the ill, the hurting, the homeless, the victimized, kids in poverty, battered women, those living in shame with mental illness, the incarcerated, the damaged, those who are addicted, lost, abandoned, forgotten.

It sounds so small – maybe even trivial to some – but this is the practice of prayer and living prayerfully. Even in a single minute of yoga, envisioning this community in need of healing while moving your body has a remarkable effect – it imprints those images and emotions and longings to help deep into your muscles, your bones, your cells, your body - so that you remember it and can live each day with awareness and hope that healing can happen for all.

I’m under no illusion that yoga by itself will necessarily solve the problems of those on the fringes, whom yogaServe reaches out to. But I’m also aware of the power of self-worth and the tragedy of living in a culture where that concept is often foreign. This reminds me of a story where Westerners had gathered to listen to the Dalai Lama and one person raised his hand with a question: “How do you deal with self-hate?” The Dalai Lama asked him to clarify what he meant. Self hate? He literally didn’t understand the question, the language, the pairing of the word “self” with “hate” because in his belief system and culture one’s goodness is celebrated.

This brokenness – an inability to see your worth – is at the core of so much suffering. Certainly those who are victimized or otherwise at risk could benefit from a reminder of it, and a bit of self-care (in the form of yoga!). I don’t believe I’m overstating the problem. Try reflecting on it for a moment – envisioning your own worth and affirming that you’re worthy of love and peace and contentment and joy. Try saying it to a friend who is struggling. The odds are that it conjures immediate emotion. I’ve seen many friends and loved ones begin crying just at the mention of it because it runs so counter to the messages we hear each day – that we have to earn respect and love, that our status, our income, our health, our beauty, our jobs, etc. make us worthwhile to the world. Consciously we may think we know those things don’t correlate with our worth but we’ve absorbed that message to the very core of our bodies sometimes. Yoga begins to unlock the truth.

peace,
jamie

Manduka goes to Wanderlust Vermont!

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