Love In Action
“Love is an action.”
Love in action begins with how you treat yourself. The ability to see all of yourself, both the divinity and the imperfections with complete acceptance leads to a loving, forgiving, open heart and mind. There is often so much focus on changing, judging or fixing yourself, rather than loving yourself. When you find the courage to face your fears and love yourself fully and completely, you learn compassion and gain the ability to see clearly, real love, just as it is. Real love is unconditional love without expectations or limitations, allowing yourself and others to be open, honest and free.
Self-Love or becoming inwardly loving to all parts of yourself is critical in expressing love, kindness and compassion toward others. Compassion means “to suffer together.” It is a feeling that arises and a desire to act, when you are confronted with another’s suffering. Compassion is pausing before any thought, word or action, checking your heart and making sure you are speaking, thinking or acting from love.
“We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it.”
Act in ways that liberate yourself and others.
Aim to transform your life from a fear-based reality to a love-based reality. Learning how to truly love is how we heal ourselves and the world. Healing is the pathway to integration, wholeness, equality and justice.
At the end of yoga practice, breathing in savasana (relaxation or corpse pose), our intention is to connect to our inner being, our soul. Inside of us, is the being that God has already created, the Christ, the Messiah, the Buddha, the Enlightened One, the Atman, our Essence. How do you connect to your inner source, your inner being? There are many paths and ways to travel inward to experience your soul. This is a life long journey.
1. Aspire to grow daily. Don’t go through day to day moments. Be present and grow through day to day moments.
2. Heighten your self-awareness. Seek to discover who you truly are, express what you are experiencing from the heart, write down your intentions, self-reflect daily, meditate, practice compassion, mindfulness and be open to listen to others.
3. Provide time for healing and discernment. Let go of willful ignorance by asking questions and seeking answers. Choose to not be blind and silent. Choose to accept the often painful truth. Choose to talk about hard things like gun control, racism, oppression and inequality. Talk with the people you disagree with and seek to understand their point of view, while also seeing them as worthy of love and respect.
4. Unity of thought, word and action. Bliss lies in unity. Your word is bond, be real, honest, and truthful in thought, word and action. There is no doubt in what is being said, heard or seen. Your thoughts, words and actions are in alignment.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
As you become more soul nurtured, more self-loving, you can turn love into a political and social force. You can use your yoga practice to create a just world.
Integrating social justice into our yoga practice is an essential component for achieving liberation. Racism is systemic, it’s the water we all swim in every day. If you are unaware or asleep to this truth, then you may be unknowingly perpetuating or complicit in white supremacy in various ways. It’s important to acknowledge that white privilege exists and acknowledge the ways in which you may benefit from it. Privilege is not automatically a bad thing, many of us are members of groups that hold privilege. It’s all about what you do with it or don’t do with it that matters. Be aware of your privilege, act compassionately, be a true ally and support those who are typically silenced, disempowered and oppressed.
The practice of yoga has the potential to make a powerful impact on transformative change in the world. However, it will take more than showing up on your yoga mat to practice asana or yoga postures. Yoga practice is not enough. The way yoga has been packaged does not invite us into the greatest potential for liberation. It’s actually keeping people from doing the deeper work, the soulful work of looking at themselves, examining and understanding their racial identity in the context of a larger society. To overcome the history of inequities and create a more just society, it will take having the courage to look closely at yourself and have hard conversations with people you love. This is not about other people out there, it’s about YOU doing the hard, yogic, spiritual, deeply loving, warrior work of looking in the mirror at yourself. It will take a willingness to sacrifice some of the advantages that come with whiteness and privilege. Yoga is a practice and it tuns out, social justice is a practice too.
“We are not fully evolved as human beings until we care about universal human rights. ...We all have a responsibility to create a just society.”
Positive change and forward movement, begins with an awakened mind, loving heart, and warrior courage. Denial, silence and avoidance isn’t the answer. We live in a profoundly separate and unequal world. White supremacy is built into the foundation of my country, as well as the world. It’s not enough to be non-racist, white supremacy will continue even without individual racists. To overcome oppression and create a more just world, there needs to be mass participation in transforming basic systems in ways that will distribute power differently. However, there is important individual healing work to be done before many are able to contribute to an anti-racist movement. Yoga is about shifting your focus inward, examining and understanding your racial identity, and transforming racism from the inside out. The practice of yoga has the potential to begin that healing process for ourselves and the world.