From an individualistic society to an interdependent world
In our world today, I find it more important than ever before to acknowledge the way we view “self-care” and essentially how we treat the practice of yoga. When I first began practicing, for me personally, it fell under the umbrella of “self-improvement.” I knew almost nothing about the philosophies of yoga and so from my point of view I saw it as another opportunity to grow and “better myself” as a person.
It was through extensive study and practice of the vast lineage of yoga, that I learned that yoga was actually not at all about self-improvement. I learned that it was about self-discovery and self-awareness, and most importantly, I learned it is 100% about self-acceptance.
We talk about this idea of “present moment” but the real question is, what does it actually mean to experience the present moment? Can you even remember a moment recently, in this era of technology and intense visual and audible stimulation when you were actually truly and completely present to the moment? Not regretting or analyzing the past nor in fear or planning of the future? Being present is an anomaly at this point for most people. No longer is it a surprise when someone seems distracted; in fact, we expect it. It’s a magical gift when someone is truly present when I meet or engage with them. I feel their presence so deeply, and notice it is a rare experience.
So why am I rambling on about this idea of presence? Because, to truly live in this very moment, we must 100% accept this moment for what it is. That means having zero interest in changing it. That means not dwelling on what just happened or anticipating what will happen next. It means dropping the tangent of thoughts that keep the mind running–just long enough–to take a deep breath and fully arrive in the here and now. And yes, it also means we must fully and completely accept ourselves. Self-acceptance is at the core of living in the present.
Can you even remember a moment recently, in this era of technology and intense visual and audible stimulation when you were actually truly and completely present to the moment?
Why and how does self-acceptance tie into how yoga can translate from the work you do on the mat out into your every day life? For me, it looks like this: through my yoga practice, I am offered the opportunity to observe myself, my thoughts, the sensations in my body, what arises in different moments through different experiences. I am on a journey of great self-discovery and self-awareness through continually returning to myself.
As my teacher, Melody says, “every exhale is an opportunity to forgive.” The time I spend on my mat is time to “hang out with” me, and learn to love all of her–quirks and imperfections, mistakes and failures. Through strengthening my capacity to see myself through loving and accepting eyes, I have ultimately strengthened the part of me that is empathetic and compassionate. Through this process, I have a more concrete understanding and ability that supports those qualities in my other relationships.
This work is essential, not because it helps us feel good, but because of its impact OFF the yoga mat.
As its been said, there is no one closer to you than you. So why not spend some time truly being your closest friend? And just maybe this will uplift, encourage and raise up your other connections. What we all need more than ever is the capacity to be truly compassionate and empathetic towards all others. We need to understand the necessity of unconditional love for all. No one person is less lovable than the next, no matter social location, background, race, age, size, gender, religion…. But how will this change ever be possible if we are so unwilling to live fully for THIS moment, accepting ourselves and all the challenges it entails, right here right now?
I dedicate these thoughts and my personal practice to the oppressed, silenced, abused, and ridiculed, simply for existing as you are, in your entirety. We are in such desperate need of change on a social level. Allow your personal “self-care” practice to facilitate this much needed change. This work is essential, not because it helps us feel good, but because of its impact OFF the yoga mat.
For more in depth views into yogic philosophy and conscious activism, come to a class anytime!
With great love,
Click here to learn more about Minta and see her teaching schedule.