privilege of practice with an elder yogi

To be present is a privilege. To be in the presence of wise beings is a privilege. To have been gifted a body, mind, and spirit with which to practice is a privilege. To take time and invest it in the benefits of practice is a privilege.

While economic, social, and cultural conditions have everything to do with how we perceive, and experience privilege, I wonder if we might find something, beneath the surface, that connects us all.

To contemplate these conditions is a privilege. With privilege comes responsibility. With responsibility comes effort. Effort seems unavoidable. It’s the “right amount” of effort that seems essential to our well-being. With it, we are engaged and invested. We are connected.

Manifestations of privilege

This week feels infused with privilege. I am writing this in the middle of the mess that is my living room while saws and drills run in the background. Massive mounds of mismatched things are piled all around me. It’s so that there is space for something new. In the meantime, it’s a mess. Yet, it is all happening… just as we’d hoped. The new space is taking shape and I am here.

This morning, with Scott on a mat beside me (and Pepper rolling around on the floor between us) I, once again, moaned and groaned as Lynne instructed us to “clear the mat” for the sequence that I knew was coming. More than twenty years later it’s still a challenge, and I’m still showing up and practicing, privilege.

Yesterday, I lay on the floor of the children’s room in the basement of a church that I’d passed by countless times. I was there for a class with an eighty-year-old teacher who had helped me once before and now again appeared. My eyes filled with tears as she instructed us to relax.

Privilege: a smooth ski on beautifully groomed trails, a bright orange beverage squeezed from sun-infused citrus, a “no worries” response to a series of invitations offered, and then declined.

Can money buy happiness? Does money mean privilege? The income-happiness correlation has been studied for decades. It doesn’t seem to be a foregone conclusion. Perspective seems to be more an indicator of happiness than wealth.

An equanimous perspective… one that can see a self, becoming more clear, is a privilege. To be a student and a teacher, innocent and wise, at the beginning of some things (I’m learning to play the ukulele and writing a book!) and at the end of others (some relationships and habits are no longer) is a privilege.

Privilege and responsibility

With privilege comes responsibility. Our mission at Yoga for Mental Health is to share the abundance that comes with practice. This is primarily, a mindset. It is rooted in the solid ground of the body, yes, but yoga is no more a series of postures than a person is a collection of muscles and bones. Can you be a person without a body? Can you “do yoga” without awareness of the body? Not when we realize just how interconnected we are.

Perspective is a privilege. From the vantage point of balance, we can see both abundance and scarcity. Perhaps we can also see a way to share. To give our time and attention to something, we must take it from something else.

This is probably the greatest challenge for the privileged. Every day I work, with myself, and with others, to build awareness, intention, and tolerance for the give and take. Sometimes, it’s easy for the body, difficult for the ego or other aspects of the mind. Sometimes, difficult for the body, easy for the mind. Balance.

Our mission, moment by moment, action by action, intention by intention, is to realize our connections. Our mind and body are connected, for better or for worse. Our single-family house under construction in Anchorage is connected to the one that I grew up in in New York. The materials that are being carried up and down our driveway are connected to far-away factories and forests. Our actions are impactful. Just as our thoughts affect our actions, our actions affect our environment… and on and on… it is all connected.

Balancing privilege and responsibility, finding bliss!

Privilege and responsibility are two equal sides in this equation that is practice. It leads to the bliss that is a heartfelt connection to our own precious life.

Balance is hard to achieve. If you’ve ever tried to stand on one foot, or your hands or your head for that matter, you know that balance is a wobbly endeavor! It’s not static. It is not just the complex of thoughts and joints and muscles that we bring; it’s the wind and heat and waves that surround us. Understanding these forces and how they affect our balance is the key to unlocking ease!

Our Equinox and Solstice programs are designed to help you do just that! These powerful times of the year, when the earth is aligned just so, give us access to something quite special. It is not just what’s out there though… it’s what’s inside that also determines how things go.

We’re doing a special one-hour webinar this Spring Equinox to help you launch your season. Sign up here: Spring Equinox Webinar and join us live if you can. We’ll send the recording to everyone who registers and the recording will be available for our YMH Members in our video library indefinitely.

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