Debunking the Myth of Separateness

From every way you look at it, Yoga is a practice of coming together.  

Coming together of...

Body and Breath and Spirit

Body and Mind and Breath and Spirit 

Self and Other

Self and Body 

Heart and Mind

Space and Form

Spirit and Matter

Black and White

Yin and Yang

Earth and Sky

Human and Nature 

 

Through the experience of Yoga (to yoke, or unify), we have a direct experience with the reality of togetherness...in all things. Through the synchronicity of the breath and body, we can change our brains.  Through the expansion of our perception, we can begin to see beyond the limits of our skin into the essence of things.  Even modern science is beginning to catch up with the Eastern ways of thinking.  We begin to BELIEVE: Separateness is an illusion.  

 

For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet

Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle of pop.

Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control. 

Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds.  They travel the earth gathering essences of plants to clean.

Give it back with gratitude.

If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars' ears and back. 

Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were a dream planting itself precisely within your parents' desire. 

Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the guardians who have known you before time, who will be there after time.  They sit before the fire that has been there without time. 

Let the earth stabilize your postcolonial insecure jitters. 

Be respectful of the small insects, birds and animal people who accompany you. Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans have brought down upon them. 

Don't worry.

The heart knows the way though there may be high-rises, interstates, checkpoints, armed soldiers, massacres, wars, and those who will despise you because they despise themselves. 

The journey might take you a few hours, a day, a year, a few years, a hundred, a thousand or even more. 

Watch your mind.  Without training it might run away and leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the thieves of time. 

Do not hold regrets. 

When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed. 

You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant. 

Cut the ties you have to failure and shame. 

Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction. 

Ask for forgiveness. 

Call upon the help of those who love you.  These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor. 

Call your spirit back.  It may be caught in corners and creases of shame, judgment, and human abuse. 

You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return.  Speak to it as you would to a beloved child. 

Welcome your spirit back from its wandering.  It may return in pieces, in tatters.  Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long. 

Your spirit will need to sleep awhile after it is bathed and given clean clothes. 

Now you can have a party.  Invite everyone you know who loves and supports you.  Keep room for those who have no place else to go. 

Make a giveaway, and remember, keep the speeches short. 

Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark. 

~Joy Harjo

Listening to the Indigenous voice...

With the spark of protest at Standing Rock, the cries of the Indigenous American peoples are being heard.  Perhaps we are finally ready to deal with the injustices and genocide of an entire race of people.  Perhaps the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement is a call for all darkness to be shed a light on.  I can feel the awakening happening within many people's hearts, even those people close to me who have been resisting the call for justice.  It seems that now, nothing can be unseen.. we cannot go back.  We must move forward TOGETHER.  

In my own spiritual journey through these dark times, and the shame I have sometimes felt being a young white woman living in Oakland, California, I have turned to art, poetry and the creative works of our Native American brothers and sisters.  Now, more than ever, I need to see their work and listen to their stories.  Theirs are the voices that I so deeply need hear.  One voice in particular has struck a chord in my heart, and that is the voice of Joy Harjo.  Joy is an incredible poet, with books upon books of published work.  Her work is bringing me back to my body in a new way; her words pull me back to the wisdom of our Earth Mother with richness and clarity.  Her story is not one that I could tell, so instead I will share one poem that has inspired me most recently...

Talking With The Sun

I believe in the sun.

In the tangle of human failures of fear, greed, and forgetfulness, the sun gives me clarity. 

When explorers first encountered my people, they called us heathens, sun worshippers. 

They didn't understand that the sun is a relative, and illuminates our path on this earth. 

 

After dancing all night in a circle we realize that we are a part of a larger sense of stars and planets dancing with us overhead. 

When the sun rises at the apex of the ceremony, we are renewed.

There is no mistaking this connection, though Walmart might be just down the road. 

Humans are vulnerable and rely on the kindnesses of the earth and sun; we exist together in a sacred field of meaning. 

 

Our earth is shifting. We can all see it. 

I hear from my Inuit and Yupik relatives up north that everything has changed. It's so hot; there is not enough winter. 

Animals are confused. Ice is melting. 

The quantum physicists have it right; they are beginning to think like Indians: everything is connected dynamically at an intimate level. 

When you remember this, then the current wobble of the earth makes sense.  How much more oil can be drained, without replacement; without reciprocity?

 

I walked out of a hotel room just off Times Square at dawn to find the sun. 

It was the fourth morning since the birth of my fourth granddaughter. 

This was the morning I was to present her to the sun, as a relative, as one of us.  It was still dark, overcast as I walked through Times Square. 

I stood beneath a twenty-first century totem pole of symbols of multinational corporations, made of flash and neon. 

 

The sun rose up over the city but I couldn't see it amidst the rain. 

Though I was not at home, bundling up the baby to carry her outside,

I carried this newborn girl within the cradleboard of my heart. 

I held her up and presented her to the sun, so she would be recognized as a relative, 

So that she won't forget this connection, this promise, 

So that we all remember, the sacredness of life. 

 

-Joy Harjo