Feb 24, 2020

The Next Right Action


The path of yoga begins with the yamas (moral and ethical guidelines) and niyamas (inner observances). Through these practices we gain deeper self-awareness and are asked to remember who we truly are and why we are here. 

In this self-reflection, we gain a deeper understanding of the layers of conditioning that have shaped our unique understanding of the world. And regardless of who we are or where we came from our lens is clouded. It is not the full picture. This inquiry can be confronting and in order for us to truly transform our wounds (so we no longer continue to pass our pain on to others) it requires us to be deeply honest. And in that honesty we have to practice self-compassion. 

This work never really ends, it is ongoing. There are layers and layers that need to be unraveled and peeled away from our own lived experiences and those of our ancestors. And the reason to disrupt these patterns? Compassion. So that we stop unnecessary harm as we move through the world.  So that we can discontinue the behavioral patterns caused by our conditioning and trauma and be better ancestors for those that come after us. 

Yoga is a practice that brings us closer to our true essence, beyond the layers of conditioning, beyond the trauma, beyond the ego self. And without compassion there is no room for joy.

Compassion is the deep awareness of the suffering of others, coupled with a desire to alleviate it. This second part is what makes compassion different than empathy. We must first become aware and enter into the suffering of another and then we take action

This can look different for each of us. Consider what really calls your heart into action. Then consider if you have the space in your life right now to act. What would that look like? 

And if you don't have the space or the energy to act what small changes could offer you the space? Are you ready to make room?

Sometimes the weight of the suffering we see around us, on the 24 hour news cycle, on social media can be so overwhelming we may drop into a place of despair. Shifting perspective, humility, being able to laugh at ourselves, accepting what is, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion certainly will help us find more joy in the midst of the suffering. But, generosity is the best way to find our way out of the despair through right action.

When you are feeling overwhelmed can you simply ask, what is the next right thing to do? Right now. Start where you are and remember that you don't have to do everything for everyone. You are not meant to resolve all the planet's crises. But, do what you can. Find what lights you up. Find your purpose. In yoga we call this dharma. It is our responsibility to live out our purpose, to serve from that place inside of us that shines. 

Having a sense of purpose in this life is so important. "Purpose, fundamentally, is about how we are able to contribute and be generous to others, how we feel needed by and of value to others." (The Book of Joy, p. 266). Finding a sense of purpose can have a huge impact on our lives, literally. Research shows that a high sense of purpose correlates with a 23% reduction in death from all causes and that people with a high sense of purpose were half as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

That certainly is convincing. Not only does generosity bring us out of despair and increase our joy, it can literally save our life. 

So the question now is...what is the next right thing for you? What pulls at your heart strings? Where and how can you give? Where and how can you be of service?

If you have the desire to take the next step in community with others who are ready to take action then join us for Yoga in Action beginning March 16. A 7 week leadership intensive to clarify your purpose and put it into action. 

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