Jan 19, 2020
I Can Do Better
You are enough.
This is truth.
And you can do better.
Is it possible to hold both of these truths at the same time? I think it is.
I’ve been sitting with this paradox for awhile. I believe that I am enough. Just as I am. And I also believe that there is so much I have to learn. So many ways that I can do better. If I can get past my ego self, practice humility and truly listen I begin to really see the ways that I can do better. As I read, study, and reflect on my own way of being in this world over the past 43 years I see there are many ways that I have caused harm, even without intending to do so. Because intention does not equal impact.
This is especially true for those of us whose social location is closest to power and privilege. Because we are swimming in a culture of patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism and colonialism. And just like fish do not see the water they are swimming in we often don’t see the problems with these ideologies that we have been indoctrinated into either.
I am writing this on the eve of Martin Luther King Day and one of my favorite pieces by Dr. King is the Letter From Birmingham Jail, where he shares his disappointment with both the white church and the white moderate. This letter is 53 years old. And it is still beyond relevant today. Every time I read it (and I’ve read it many, many times as I used to teach it as a US History classroom teacher) I can feel it in my body. It is an invitation to question myself, my actions, my beliefs. It is a reckoning.
Yesterday I marched in the 4th Annual Women’s March. I brought my daughter for the second year in a row. She has been raised to march. I try to explain why we march. That it is one of many ways to express that we are unhappy with the status quo and we want change. In the words of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
I know it can feel easier to remain silent. This is especially true in modern Western yoga. Love and light. We are all one without acknowleging the systems that keep us separate and create unequal access to resources. Stay positive and don't focus on the negative. But, the truth is when we fail to look at the shadow side of ourselves, and of our collective cultural norms, we are engaging in spiritual bypass. And those of us who are located closest to power and privilege can do this because our lives are not at stake in the same way our BIPOC, transgender, immigrant, and muslim brothers and sisters are. Not to mention our children in the wake of the current climate crisis.
And it can be easy to point our fingers at the other side. Regardless of what side you are on. But looking within is where the true work lies. Investigating the parts of ourselves that continue to be complacent and look away. Asking ourselves the hard questions like where have I been complicit? What ways do I contribute to the suffering on this planet? This is yoga. The revolution begins within as my teacher Seane Corn says.
Today’s call to action is an invitation for you to come along with me and do a little self-inquiry. Ask where can I do better? Ask what ways can I better listen? Get uncomfortable. Practice humility and own where you have caused harm.
Yoga has prepared us for this moment. The path invites us to get uncomfortable and to resource so that we may stay in the mud instead of turning away. Because without the mud, without the shadow work there is no lotus, we cannot see the light.
And so today I continue to sit with this: I am both enough and I can do better. And I am committed to try.
May all beings be happy and free. May my thoughts, words and actions contribute to the happiness and freedom for all.
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