Can we please stop using yoga and mindfulness practice as an excuse to be idle, minimize, or disregard systems of oppression?
The spirit of mindfulness---the spirit of the practice---is not to be comfortable. There is this somewhat self-destructive mantra in society that happiness is the key. You’re supposed to be happy. You’re supposed to be content.
No. You’re supposed to be human.
For the privileged, mindfulness is not to witness (hear or read), acknowledge (or have a feeling), and then release (disregard) the reality of social injustice. The spirit of the practice is presence and full engagement with life in this moment. It is a shifting towards union. Union is driven by ethical compassion. Sincerity of being. Karuna.
As yogis and practitioners, it’s critical that we eventually move beyond our own space of experience. The narrative of our own suffering is valid, but it doesn’t exist in isolation.
If we turn inward to find peace and stop there, this withdrawal from the world is problematic. It’s a distraction. We turn inward to face our superficial habits & assumptions in order to be a focused & present participant in the reality of life.
It is powerful to pay attention.
The Buddha wasn’t just a wanderer in the forest.
Patanjali wasn’t an idealist.
Healing in the body can only happen through a healing of our culture.
So, yes. We sit. We close our eyes. We encounter suffering. But then we try and intensify our relationship with it. Non-attachment is not discarding thoughts & sensation; it is refining and releasing the superfluous in order to see what is really there and needs our attention. And then we move into the world with more sincerity and humility.
And if you’re still reading this please know that I am telling every word of this to myself. I am paying more attention because I am in a season of being too comfortable with the narrative of my existence. My privilege. I have not been paying enough attention. Living overseas in a manufactured bubble is a choice; it is not an excuse to disconnect from social action.
Starting with yourself is important, but it is just that---- a start.