Deep and important changes are happening right now. Whatever combination of outrage, fear, excitement, or frustration you are feeling, know this: everybody is processing this moment differently. Our emotional responses and our expression of those responses will be different from each other. And as we get down to the long, hard work of dismantling the complex and deeply ingrained systems of structural racism, don’t expect everyone’s work to look the same, either.
Some of us may choose to be very vocal in sharing our feelings, or in sharing resources; many of us are actively protesting in the streets; and many of us are doing quieter work, like educating ourselves, or donating to and supporting working groups and causes. Still others may feel emboldened to have that tough conversation with Grandpa. There’s a lot of work to do.
In tough times it’s easy to point fingers, judging and criticizing others, sometimes out of fear that we will be judged and criticized ourselves. We might get stuck posturing and quibbling, directing our energies at the failings of others, and neglecting to acknowledge or tackle our own complicity in the very conditions we’re condemning.
This is an invitation to use your mindful movement, meditation, or yoga practice to look within, and see what change is possible there.
The science of yoga includes the concept of svadhyaya, study of self. In self-study, pieces of the vast experience of our consciousness are brought up to the level of awareness. With awareness, we can begin to recognize our habits and patterns of thought and action. When we become aware of a pattern (such as a prejudice), we can then evaluate it as hurtful, helpful, or benign. A hurtful pattern is one that is not moving us towards our/the greater good. Once a hurtful pattern is identified, the work begins: of vigilance in watching for its signs, of taking it apart, eradicating it, and replacing it with a new pattern. This difficult shadow work begins within, and then can spread outward to begin identifying and dismantling harmful patterns in our relationships, community and society.
In svadhyaya we are studying ourselves: looking within for those harmful patterns and starting the work of rooting them out.
The BE is very much in the business of facilitating positive change. We’re not going to tell you how to be the change, but we are here as always to offer tools and to hold space — in the studio or virtually wherever you may roam. That’s what we do. When you need us, whether to get down to work or just to get an hour’s peace, here we will BE. <3
More on svadhyaya at Yoga International, with a tip of the hat to our man Walt Whitman.