A Yoga Practice for the Greater Good

The aftermath of the election in the United States has reminded me of one thing:

We will never be free, we will never be happy, we will never be at peace until we start making decisions with the greater good in mind rather than our own self interest.

Although I have always given back and have chosen a life of service, earlier this week, for the first time as I was blowing out my birthday candle, I realized that I’ve always made birthday wishes for me or my family but never for anything beyond that.

It’s natural to make selfish birthday wishes - it makes sense - if I’m happy, I’ll be able to help others be happy too.

But yesterday, I consciously made a wish on my candle for the planet.

Self interest is a good thing, but far too often we miss the other end of that spectrum. If we don’t take care of each other and make choices less personal all the time, we’re going to end up miserable and divided. 

Uhhhh, kind of like the USA right now.

In one of the rare moments when Charlie Chaplin actually spoke, he gave a riveting speech in the movie, The Dictator, saying, “We want to live by each other’s happiness not by each other’s misery.”

For example, as we prepare for the next four years ahead, what is most crucial is that we protect mother earth. Her interest is your interest - for no other individual interests will help if the world is burning up, the seas are rising, and the earth is shaking.

Therefore….

To help you move in the world with a more altruistic heart, I’ve designed a contemplation that can be applied as you do your yoga practice.  This is best done as a home yoga practice with no outside guidance.

The aim will be to cultivate your intuition and listen to your body as a microcosm rather than focusing on opening different body parts (such as hips, or shoulders). Then you will gain a deeper appreciation for your body as a whole vs. its individual parts.

If you can get good at that on the mat, then you will get better at choosing the greater good off the mat when it matters most!

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Start in a neutral pose like tadasana or child’s pose
  2. Tune in to the sensations in the whole of your body and notice how the different parts relate to each other up and down the kinetic chain.
  3. Ask for Divine guidance to show you the most optimal ways to move and which poses to practice  that would be most enhancing and healing for your body whole.
  4. Rather than sticking to a set list of poses, choosing an area of the body to focus on, or going for an apex pose, let yourself move -  guided solely by your intuition as it shows you what is best for the whole of your body, rather than just it’s parts.
  5. Do your practice for as long as your body seems to need it.

After honoring your body in this way, notice the following as you move through your day: 

  • Is it easier to be more giving to others?
  • Do you find yourself sacrificing your own pleasures or possessions to help make someone else’s life more abundant?
  • Are you more in tune with anticipating the needs of your loved ones and able to put their needs before your own?
  • Despite the chance to make more money or spend more money, are your financial choices informed by what is best for all beings and the planet?

The sooner we start making decisions and behave without just ourselves in mind, the better life is going to be for everybody, including ourselves.

Enjoy these quotes about the common good:

“No decisions should ever be made without asking the question, is this for the common good?”
- Michael Moore
“For too long in this society, we have celebrated unrestrained individualism over common community. For too long as a nation, we have been lulled by the anthem of self-interest. For a decade, led by Ronald Reagan, self-aggrandizement has been the full-throated cry of this society: "I've got mine, so why don't you get yours" and "What's in it for me?”
- Joe Biden
"A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good."
- Barbara Jordan