Dear Yoga Student,
Despite the fact that restrictions are still in place in some walks of life, there is a sense of us being able to move around our country or planet a little bit more now. It is natural for us humans to want to explore and get out and about. Travel is great way to learn, evolve, expand and move onwards in our lives. When I was nineteen I went travelling to South East Asia. The experience popped my small grey North London bubble and threw me into a vast technicolour world, with myriad possibilities of being. I was forever changed.
However, there have been some holidays I can recall, that I’ve not had that expansion, quite the opposite in fact. There is a Buddhist saying that goes “wherever you go, there you are.” Meaning that however far away we go from our home country, we take our metaphorical baggage with us. This can weigh us down, stop us from engaging with life and can make us feel stressed and trapped. It is very much like being surrounded by loads of expensive luggage items on a beautiful beach, not being able to leave it all unattended to go for a swim. Our attachment to our baggage can be so strong as to limit our engagement with life, wherever we might be.
In yoga we go through a continual and gradual process of learning how to let go of this baggage, how to pack just the essentials. This enables us to tread more lightly on the Earth. We learn to be more aware of our surroundings. We learn to be flexibile and calm when things don’t go to plan. We learn to be more kind and considerate of others as we build a community around us. These are all necessary skills for the traveller in a strange land, with different customs and ideas, a different language and culture.
The more we practice the more lightly we travel in life. There is less of a need to hold on to fixed positions of right and wrong; good and bad; this or that. When we let go of judgement, a process of learning to accept what is, how others are and how we are. This brings a great deal of inner peace. Acceptance does not mean bypassing the problems we perceive. It means being kind and patient with ourselves and others. In this way we dampen the urge to fix things or run away. Instead, we see things how they are and slowly persevere in creating the positive changes that the moment allows.
I feel we need these kinds of skills right now. We need first, the ability to see the whole picture and to find the middle path between polarities. Then to patiently start to put things back together in a way that supports humanity as a whole. The task ahead of us is daunting, but there are many of us, and with our hearts in the right place, working together, we can create a more beautiful future.
Sometimes we just need to put things into perspective, to broaden our horizons and see the bigger picture. One way of doing this is to contemplate ourselves from space. In this spirit, I urge you to read this poem. “A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou. This poem was chosen to be flown into space on the Orion spacecraft. Click the link to find out more about this amazing project. Angelou dedicated the poem to “the hope for peace, which lies, sometimes hidden, in every heart.”
With love and good wishes,
Dear Yoga Student,