October 6, 2012

My Yoga, My Frustration- Reconciling Hopelessness in a Seemingly Disengaged Society

Where it begins:

Like many of my fellow citizens, I watched the first Presidential debate this week and turned off the television with feelings of emptiness and frustration sprinkled with a bit of hopelessness. Why is all of this happening? Why are we not discussing real issues and taking on important fights together that mean something for everyone? When did we all get so apathetic about the course of our future? SIGH….

I AM FRUSTRATED!!!…and I don’t want to be! I REEEAAALLLYYY Don’t!

Issues of Frustration:

We don’t talk with one another. We shout at one another. Always trying to make “a point” and never listening. Is it so hard to discuss issues in a real way. What issues, you may ask? How about these?—

  • The Economy— We’re not in good shape; we all know it, so let’s just work together on fixing it- fixing it in the right way. How can we make it so this country is a great place to live in again? How can we stop stripping away at the middle class and ignoring those in the lower class while enhancing benefits just for the rich? When did that become ok? Why is it so hard to see that we need everyoneto have resources so they can to make positive contributions to the world? Isn’t that a basic human right the founding fathers wanted every citizen to have or did I miss something here? Let’s get our S%^T together people because we are running out of time!
  • Education— Education is in a catch-22, as a matter of fact it is ALWAYS a Catch-22. We all see it so let’s stop fooling ourselves, ok? We need money to create teaching moments and opportunities for growth that students and graduates MUST HAVE in an ever-changing world; many of these spaces need to be non-traditional so let us get out of the one size fits all mode, ok? The sad things is that it is always the thing we talk about at election time and then ignore immediately after the President is elected- whomever it is. It has become this trendy topic to discuss because it gets everyone all tanked up (ie: Big Bird) and then its left up to the states, communities, and school districts to sort out when the post-election dust has settled. PATHETIC. I am convinced that as a country we really have little regard for the value of education and I say that knowing that this does not apply to everyone so my fellow educators, forgive me! We have created a poverty mentality around education and for all intents and purposes we have little value and regard for it as a people otherwise we would be making this a top issue ahead of the economy, ahead of the environment, ahead of the military, ahead of women’s or gay rights. Ya know why? BECAUSE ALL OF THOSE ISSUES ARE BASED IN EDUCATION FOLKS! If you don’t have an educated population, you have NOTHING! GOT THAT??? We are more interested in being entertained with sporting events and social media then we are about the importance of education. I am an entrepreneur, running a business that so desperately wants to create real jobs and career paths for people. Ya know what my top challenge is? EDUCATION! Enough said!
  • Income Distribution— When did it become ok for the rich to have no rules to abide by and everyone else has a code to follow? We should be ashamed of ourselves! When I grew up, if you had more then the next person, you gave, you helped, you supported. I did not grow up rich. My parents worked their butts off to give us the things we needed. Ya know why? Because they believed! We came from a code that said you help because you care about the future and integrity of the person next to you. You give because it is the right thing to do damn it! You help because everyone’s life matters and you could be on the other end of that someday. You assist because you want to see every person and family succeed because then we all win and win big. We can all be great! Where is that USA? Where is that country that had integrity and support systems that applied to everyone? Where is the citizenship that would scoff at the concept of greed or gluttony. Is it gone forever?
  • Manufacturing & Local Industry— Why the hell did we get rid of large-scale manufacturing? Americans are a tough lot with brilliant ideas and endless resources (yes, endless resources) to create amazing things for our friends and families around the world; to contribute to the world economy in a fair and equitable way. We’re hurting now because some executive on Madison Avenue or Wall Street said it was a good idea to off-shore everything. Who came-up with that brilliant idea? Manufacturing and Industry are the backbone of this country and we have sold it all off to the world and then we wonder why we owe so much to our colleagues in China or India or “it-doesn’t-matter-where.” We have disempowered our own people and have essentially said that your skills are no longer needed BECAUSE we can replace you at a cheaper rate. What message does that send? When did money replace humanity? The generations of families that have broken their backs because they BELIEVED. When did it become ok to say, “sucks to be you.” HUH???
  • Health & Healthcare— We’re a mess. Let’s not dance around it, ok? We’re a fat and unhealthy nation because as citizens we have allowed it. Yes, we have allowed it. We have put doctors and medical practitioners at the mercy of drup companies and HMOS and we have pumped ourselves with pharmaceuticals as a way to provide solutions, genetically modified food as a source of nourishment and have consumed more sugar, fat and salt for the value meal price of $.99. We have been told that food-like substances are good for us and that local, organic, vegetarian and vegan-plant-based diets are weird. Obesity is a SERIOUS problem and despite the alerts and medical research and advice by both eastern and western practitioners we continue to get fatter and fatter. It’s DISGUSTING and completely unacceptable. AND, ya know what the most horrid part of it is though? It is COMPLETELY preventable. Once again, we have allowed the lack of education and the importance of poor income distribution to impact humanity and if we don’t get it together soon, the generation of today will die before the one before it. As a matter of fact, they already are. So, don’t give me the crappy line of “it’s all personal choice, because it’s NOT!” Don’t even get me started…..
  • Human Rights— Remember that line “…For liberty and justice for all..?” Maybe we should start practicing it, eh???
  • Environment— TwoWords: GLOBAL WARMING. If you don’t think it exists, look out your damn window! I live in the Pacific Northwest. It ALWAYS rains here, even in the summertime. Despite my happiness for the sunny weather over the past three consecutive months, having it be 90 degrees at the end of September with trees so dry they cannot change their leaf color effectively IS NOT NORMAL!!!!  I could go on about plastic, water supply, pollution, the need for urban density and the elimination of suburban sprawl but that would be redundant. The fact is, nature bats last and if you don’t wake up and do something about it, guess what? YOU WANT HAVE A PLANET TO LIVE ON!!!!!

 So, after my ranting, what I do about it?…Seriously:

When questions and thoughts like these come up in my life I automatically go into deep reflection mode and examine everything through the lens of the yogic code– The Yamas and Niyamas. I do this by engaging in an activity whereby I go through each of my thoughts and responses around those thoughts and assign it to the yogic code. This process is an effort to make sense of my place in the world, what I am experiencing and how I might process it rather then knee-jerking. Many people probably think it’s ridiculous to go through such an arduous process over issues that may be minor glimpses or insights in one’s daily thought patterns. But, for me, it matters deeply. What do I discover, you may ask? I discover that I can always come up with solutions to my thoughts and reconcile them even in a seemingly hopeless world when, and only when, I look at the Yamas and Niyamas in their purist form—-

Ahimsa – Nonviolence

Satya – Truthfulness

Asteya – Nonstealing

Brahmacharya – Nonexcess

Aparigraha – Nonpossessiveness

Saucha – Purity

Santosha – Contentment

Tapas – Self-discipline

Svadhyaya – Self-study

Ishvara Pranidhana – Surrender


Interesting, isn’t it??? The ancient yogis were pretty smart. Isn’t this such a better way to live? It feels like instant Enlightenment. Yes, the sun will rise again….

The Aftermath:

So, after all of these thoughts rush in, are processed for what they are and then reconciled with my yogic code, I am left with a new hope that it can and will get better. I may still experience pangs of frustration and perhaps even a bit of anger but at least I have a better lens by which to see through. My yoga practice has saved me yet again– it has given me a foundation in which to stand and new breath by which I am reborn. What have I learned? Great question!— I have learned that there is a lot of work to be done and the world needs healing in a profound way. How can I help? Where can I serve? are the questions I begin to ask and that place of strength makes things a whole lot better.



Shanti Om! Namaste!


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