“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
- the Dalai Lama
Are you feeling utterly overwhelmed by the current state of things in the USA? I'm with you.
Although yoga helps us get into a zone where all is well and where there’s light and love, you’re then meant to come back to reality, serve others, and engage in the world to make it a better place.
The word yoga means “to connect”, to connect to the world. It’s not meant to be an escape.
In other words, having a yoga practice does not make you immune to the feeling (or the reality) that we’ve taken a nosedive into a pit of darkness in just a year’s time.
That said, as dark as it has become, voices previously unheard are coming into the light.
- Women’s voices are saying #TimesUp on centuries of sexual harassment and assault.
- Black and brown voices are saying enough is enough on racism, discrimination, and deportation. #BlackLivesMatter #Dreamers
- Children are demonstrating, lying on the ground in front of the White House to demand safety in their schools. #MarchForOurLives #NeverAgain
- A wave of women, minorities, gay, and transgender candidates were elected in states all over the country and that trend continues to grow. #BlueWave2018
Still, I am overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of abnormal, morally bankrupt, despicable, and unfathomable things going on in the White House!
I always feel better when I take action (like calling my senators), but I notice that the deluge of troubling news easily paralyzes me to the point where I will do nothing if I don’t watch out.
The onslaught of these daily issues is numbing.
Whenever I find myself becoming numb, I think of Arjuna, the main character in the great epic tale, The Bhagavad Gita, a text every serious student of yoga eventually tackles.
The story begins on a battlefield. Prince Diroydhana has rejected his cousin Yudhishthira’s final offer of peace and he and his brothers, the Panavas, including Arjuna are forced into battle.
War is unavoidable, and Arjuna is beside himself with despair because he is facing his own loved ones - cousins and uncles on the battlefield - in fratricidal armageddon.
The text explores this metaphor as the dilemma of how the world both annihilates us (because we all die) and embraces us. In Arjuna’s case, and in our own case, love puts us at the greatest risk. Ultimately the text asks us - what are you willing to do for love?
You’re either making the world a better place or not. You can break down, do nothing, and take Xanax in a fetal position under the covers, or you’ve got the opportunity to do yoga and address the problems head on.
Yoga is how you decide you want to be in the face of this dilemma. The Bhagavad Gita is not a text about “checking out”, it’s a text about “checking in” and dealing firsthand with what is on the table.
My teacher often says, “Stop wishing the world were some way you wish it were, and start wishing the world was in some way how it could be.”
Arjuna, with the help and lengthy guidance of Krishna, takes on the dilemma, knowing that inaction is still a choice and doing nothing would be a nihilistic act that could damage generations to come. Ultimately Krishna makes his arguments but doesn’t tell him what to do. Instead he leaves him free to choose his course of action.
So when you feel depressed, immobilized, or inundated by the troubles of the world and you’re not sure which issue to pick, remember you are free to pick just one thing. Do one thing, because action always feels better than no action at all.
Here are some resources for action you can take RIGHT NOW:
- Set up ResistBot on your phone so you can easily email your senators and make your voice heard. If you text them 'NRA' they will tell you how much money the NRA paid your elected officials and suggest action steps!
- Tune in to Resistance Live every day with my old friend, Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, so you know what pressing actions need to be taken.
- Donate to Swing Left to ensure that we elect candidates who are not being bought by the Koch brothers and the National Rifle Association (NRA).
- Donate to the ACLU to help ensure that voters rights are being protected.
- Donate to the Black Yoga Teacher’s Alliance to help support teachers of color through yoga education scholarships, events, and more.
- Sending a hand-written post card to your elected representatives can be very effective via CollectiveVision.Us. You can also send post cards to would-be voters.