"This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. " ...Martin Luther King Jr.
so Martin Luther King Jr. knew a thing or two about the power of Now. He did not shy away from his spiritual duty, his dharma......he even had preminitions that it would cost him his life, but he did it anyway. The cause was too great, far greater than any one man, and when any other man would have stepped back at the sheer force of resistance he received, he instead was fed by the support and the hopes of what he referred to as "our creative protest". Why was it creative? Because it was balanced action in the truest essence.
He did not fight physical force with physical force. He met it squarely with what he referred to as "soul force". In yoga, we strive to find in our bodies, hearts and minds a balance between effort and ease, muscle energy and organic energy.........courage and steadfastness tempered with compassion and love....and that balance creates true freedom. Wouldn't you say that that balance is and expression of "soul force"?
so in my Monday night class at Garden Street Yoga, I decided to put this to the theme. I looked at the "Declaration of Independence" that Mr King referred to in his "I have a Dream" speech. He was really after this country to make good on this contract with the American People, because in 1963 when he gave this speech, all men were not treated equal. I was also playing with what is a "Demonstration of Freedom", of which Martin Luther King did so well. The difference is that one was just words written with all the best intentions but not completely put into action, and the other was a pure demonstration supplied to us in action by him. So in class, we practiced a Demonstration of True Freedom......Balanced Action.
I think True Freedom must always be tempered, or "riverbanked" with discipline. If we don't, we just have a flood of chaos. Too much discipline and Freedom dries up like a dry riverbed. So in yoga, we start with Shri....we look for the beauty in everyone...we start expansive like an ocean of Freedom. Then we temper that with Muscle Energy. We draw in the periphery of this vast ocean of freedom to the core of our soul to remember who we truly are, to tap into the True Teacher, to remember the Truth. Then, KEEPING THAT, we shine that truth back out through the periphery to be shared with all around us, without unplugging from the truth with which we found. So we played with that tonight....being a Demonstration of Freedom, being Balanced Action....and it was so beautiful to watch.....we demonstrated all the Warrior poses.....One, Two, Three, Reverse, and Apexed it off with Dying Warrior.....yeah I know....sad metaphor, but it's a great pose to really look for and find Balanced Action because most people react two ways to this pose.......one is seeing the demo and going, "no way....that looks like it hurts!".......or "no problem, I'm going to get my shoulder all the way to the floor no matter what!!".....but Balanced action and True Freedom doesn't know what the pose is going to be until it gets there and then its like a vibration of Freedom that radiates through your body to let you know that you are right at the edge....you are in Balanced Action....and you need not grasp beyond that in that moment....Just BE it!!!
It takes a lot of courage to tap into that truth. And it takes a lot of courage to shine it out the way Martin Luther King did. I refer back to the quote above: "This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. " Gradualism is the the belief in or the policy of advancing toward a goal by gradual, often slow stages. The key part is "often slow stages". Martin Luther King Jr had had enough of "often slow stages". Yes, they weren't slaves anymore, but they still weren't Free. They were not treated equal. And we as a country fall into taking the tranquilizing drug of gradualism all the time....getting so caught up in our own day to day lives. And in our own day to day lives we fall prey to it too!!! I look at my own practice of yoga, and I can see that it has been often slow stages of progress!! And I know the answer to this problem that I have with my too much freedom. Discipline!!!!
So I have a dream too. I have a dream to find in myself the balance of Courage and Compassion that Martin Luther King Jr. had and nurture it in my practice everyday and BE it everyday!
Monday, January 4, 2010
you know sometimes your teacher just tells you exactly what you need to hear.
I have an amazing assignment to Open to the Highest and set my feet firmly on the ground at least 20 times a day. This is really hard to remember to do sometimes in the real world off the yoga mat. This is sometimes even hard to remember to do on the mat. I am so blessed to be able to take my practice and studentship to the next level in the good company of Garden Street Yoga Kula, but as is life, I am not always in "good company".
in our first meeting of our Advanced Immersion, a subject came up about how hard it is to maintain this Opening to the Highest when we are sometimes in the company of negativity, whether it be people we work with, live with, deal with in the grocery line, on the freeway, etc. That, sometimes, it can be very lonely out there opening to the Highest. Opening to Grace in the midst of negative company. My teacher said that her teacher told her that in these instances you have to "suck it up and serve! This is your dharma!"
a common definition of dharma is:
"dharma is the doctrine of the religious and moral rights and duties of each individual"
so I guess that would mean that it is my individual duty to Open to the Highest, ESPECIALLY when surrounded by negativity. I wish I could tell you that I do that well. So I put myself to the assignment of 20 times a day on one of my more difficult days......double shift Sunday at the restaurant I work at!
Now I'm not even going to mention the name of the restaurant because it is my experience that this is the reality of most restaurants, not just this one. Restaurants are like sleeping Kulas, fast moving, loud, distracting, busy and always right at the edge of chaos. A perfect place really to test the waters of Opening to the Highest First.....looking for Shri (beauty) first.....see Shri and then be Shri! Easier said than done!
I have on purpose and strategically placed my just barely awake self (kind of like one eye just barely open first thing in the morning and there is a lot of goop around that barely open eye and it really wants to go back to sleep, lol) in this environment because it pays the bills and quite honestly I like to serve people. For every 10 tables I serve, I might get one table to break the routine a bit and have a little fun with them. I don't interupt people that are obviously there to catch up or in a meeting or in a hurry. But with some I have an opportunity to connect in some way, and I really do have to open to the Highest to be able to see that opportunity. I pay attention to that.....that I seem to have a knack for.
However, some people....for whatever reason.....like to go out to eat and look for things wrong to complain about. I don't understand this at all. They don't want to spend money, they know they are not going to like the food, they love to tell you about the bad experience they had last time and don't think I will do much better (i like to call this contempt prior to investigation, lol), they are going to want 10 free refils on their bottomless beverage, they are going to try to figure out the best way to get their meal for free or at least discounted, they are looking at their watch for sure, they see that you have a tray of food for another table in your hand as you walk by, but they somehow would like you to put that down and go fill their water and get more napkins right now because that is way more important than the hot food for the next table........oh....and the bathrooms are terrible.....and the music is too loud.....so is the next table full of kids. I could go on.......no really I could, lol. This kind of table deflects Shri and Light like you were offering it to them just to annoy them, lol. They know without a doubt you are literally trying to kill them with kindness! And they are definitely are not going to tip you....they knew that before they even walked in the door!
Pause.....breath.....soften.....open to the highest....set my four corners of my feet and begin again.
I recover and honestly.....I have lowered my expectations for my guest to be well behaved so then I'm really more surprised and happy when I get the happy family table that responds well to my smile and outpouring of Shri and automatically give it back. That one table out of every 10 is worth it all, it's all I need.
But double shift Sunday was not going down like that!! It was particularly negative for whatever reason and the one in 10 table was having a hard time showing up to help me keep going. So.......I paused and opened to the Highest and planted my four corners 50 times on Sunday!! No really I did!!
Two cool things did happen as a result of this. Another waitress I work with is also a former yoga student of mine from North Idaho College and knows what the for corners of the feet are and knows what it means to Open to Grace. She's another Light of Shri running around in this world and a joy to work with. She was having a hard time with the "rude guests" that she was serving (nope it wasn't just me that day, it really was just one of those days)....so I passed on to her my own assignment of the 20 times a day, and told her about the "suck it up and serve...it's your Dharma".....and she smiled at me....looked at me in the eyes.....and said, "your right...thanks Terri.....that really helps!"....and went back to being her Shri serving self! After that, I finally got the happy table....a table of women who were just dying for a good belly laugh, and I found the groove to joke around with them and have fun with them.....we had a good time, I was laughing with them and it was a nice little Shri fest with complete strangers. So maybe it was only one table that day....but it was a really good one!
Suck it up and Serve!!!!