Thursday, November 3, 2011

#occupyyourmat: The Theory and Practice of Yoganomics

That’s right, I’m droppin’ a hashtag.  Be warned, I may even play the Gandhi card.  But first, let’s talk about Yoganomics.  The theory of Yoganomics can be summed up in (read: I borrowed this from) a line from a song by The Night Watchman, Tom Morello.  It goes like this: 

“If you take one step towards freedom, it will take two steps towards you.”

Patañjali has us begin with Kriya Yoga, and the first step on that path is discipline (tapas).  Kriya, like Karma, comes from the root kr- “to act.” We must initiate action, then everything else begins to move. The ultimate end result is Kaivalya, freedom. 
An example. Swami Sivananda writes about japa practice, echoing the Kali-Santarana Upanishad: “The name of God chanted correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully or carelessly, with Bhava (feeling/faith/devotion) or without Bhava, is sure to give the desired fruit.  The Bhava will come itself after some time…” (The Essence of Yoga  p. 17).  Swamiji absolutely encourages faith and devotion during japa (and all forms of) practice, however, the sheer act of repeating a name of God over and over again is a jump start toward liberation.  Not as fast as japa with devotion, yet light years ahead of not doing anything. Start in some way, shape, or form, and a chain reaction follows.

By Sanjay Patel via MC Yogi. The story of Rama is Yoganomics in action
Here’s the fun part:  we may not know, long term, what we are looking to achieve with our practice, and we may not know how we are going to do whatever it is we are going to do, but the second we act, not think about acting, not committing to act, but actually get off our butts and do something, we have succeeded.

This is microyoganomics, working toward freedom as an individual. An interesting phenomenon happens when you start the micro-, the macro- follows right along.  Taking a step towards freedom changes the individual, and it also starts to change the world.  An individual’s actions are contagious. 

Occupy Wall St. is this theory unfolding into practice right before our very twitter stream.  Someone, or maybe a group of people, decided to stop griping about what they saw as wrong with the economic system and do something about it.  I will not pretend to know any details; I’ll let the results speak for themselves:

Problem:  The people have no voice.
Solution: A completely democratic collective, where everyone has equal opportunity and voice.

Problem: Those negatively effected by the current economic system feel they have no support.
Solution: People are gathering and offering support to each other.

Problem: There are people without food.
Solution: People with food share with others.

Problem:  There are people in need of medical attention.
Solution: Doctors and nurses providing free care to the best of their ability.

What is the movement trying to prove?  Can a collective movement be sustainable in the absence of accountable leadership, a spokesperson, a platform? Who are these people? Are they communists/heathens/slackers/hippies/[insert unfair disparaging label here]?

Who cares. 

They are you and me.  

We can’t control what others do, think, or say.  But we have full control over what we choose to do.  One person choosing to help another sparked the desire in more people to help each other.  That is the result. That is all which matters. That is success

The practical application of Yoganomics:  Once we do, whether that is getting to the mat or sitting for meditation, giving a cup of coffee to someone without heat, listening to someone who feels unheard, saying ‘thank you’, etc., we are making a difference.  Gandhi taught us to “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” (told you. Gandhi card.)  All it takes is one kr-, one act. It does not matter if people follow, it only matters that you provide the example by taking the first step. . “The truth,” as Mr. Slater’s character in Pump Up the Volume informs us, “is a virus.”

 My Yoganomics offering to my students, past, present, and future:

If you are trying to convince yourself to get to your mat, if you have doubts, if you are struggling to find your practice, know that I am there too, and I support you. Even though not in the same physical space, you have a partner/comrade/compatriot. I will share with you from my practice. We are students on this path together.

If you want to practice, I’ll give you the tools. If you cannot afford to come to class, I will comp you one and provide you with instruction to continue your practice at home.  I have found a great number of teachings which are available for free, and I will share them with you.  

I will do my best to answer your questions and will direct you to better authorities for better answers than I can provide.

I will provide you with an environment of inclusion where you can be safely challenged without being judged.

Your practice makes a difference.  Take one step and see.

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