Archive for August, 2017

Purple as a beet

August 29, 2017

“It must be obvious, from the start, that there is a contradiction in wanting to be perfectly secure in a universe whose very nature is momentariness and fluidity. If I want to be secure, that is, protected from the flux of life, I am wanting to be separate from life. Yet it is this very sense of separateness which makes me feel insecure. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”

(Alan Watts – The Wisdom of Insecurity)

Concentric Circles: Why I Am Vegan

August 28, 2017

Meditation and yoga practice begin with where I am at this moment, as a journey within. Aware that I have a body, I begin to pay attention to how this body moves, how this body touches the earth, how this body breathes, how it thinks, speaks and acts in the world. For a moment I am interrupting my habitual movements, I am pausing to open a space of increased awareness for what is right in front of me. I stop in order to see deeply into the circumstances and relationships of life.

This journey inward has often been compared to peeling off the layers of an onion. Layer by layer and step by step, I am cultivating the subtleties of paying attention to what is, and this practice of paying attention begins with myself. Yet as I move inward I begin to see that the movement of introspection is just as much a movement of expansion. The more I pay attention, the more I begin to see deeply into relationship and the fact that all of life is interconnected like a big beautiful spiderweb. This web is so complex and finely woven that I can infinitely look deeper and see more connectivity. The water in my own body constantly passes in, out and through me to become the clouds, rain, ocean, blood of an animal, sap in a tree. The air I breathe is being breathed by all of life.

As I practice, I am peeling off the layers of an onion, but I am also growing concentric circles like a tree. I begin as a seed, a sprout, and I grow, until I develop a strong stable trunk, deep roots, and far reaching branches. With every day, month and year of practice, I am adding concentric circles to my awareness and I widen my field of inclusivity.

My yoga practice is not just a practice of postures and breathing on a yoga mat. My yoga practice is a movement of expansion that grows concentic circles of awareness into all areas of life. I am opening myself to seeing the beauty and the suffering that is present in our lives. I become receptive to the wind as it touches my skin, to the fur of my cat as she strokes me with her tail, and to the inequalities present in the country I live in, as well as the inequalities on planet earth.

I open my body to the raw sensation of realizing that I live in a society that is structurally racist and sexist, and a global community that is structurally speciesist. This aspect of my yoga practice presents itself as an open wound rather than a cloud of yoga bliss. And I am here to feel it, be present to it, ackowledge it. Because this is my practice: being present to what is.

I am acknowledging our tendency as human beings to divide ourselves into race and color and to develop hierarchical structures of exploitation, incarceration, and domination. I am acknowledging our tendency as earth family to divide ourselves into different species and develop hierarchical structures that sytemicly exploit nonhuman animals, incarcerating them, taking their lives in great numbers.

I begin to see parallels in how we divide the human family into black and white, favoring one over the other, and how we divide the animal family into domestic and farmed, loving one, killing and eating the other. And I begin to strongly feel that human rights are intimitely connected to animal rights and that I cannot be an activist for equality and humanity without being an activist for animals and the earth, meaning a vegan who leads a plant-based lifestyle. Veganism is a political issue, a race issue, a gender issue, and equality issue, an environmental issue, a mental health issue, a heart issue, a love issue. The concentric circles of my awareness have to include the animal family and all of life on mother earth, otherwise I am not a consistent activist and my vision is limited, not expansive.

Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki spoke of “small mind” and “big mind”. I practice yoga with the deep felt wish to awaken big mind in me and others, in us, moment to moment. I want my practice to be a commited practice: having the courage to speak up against micro-aggression and obvious discrimination when it comes to race, gender, religion, species or any other form of division expressed through rejecting “otherness” or even just seeing otherness. I want to cultivate the courage to speak up for justice and equality every time and not let one moment slip because I felt uneasy or afraid to stand up for my brothers and sisters.

If you consider yourself an activist, please also consider adopting a plant-based lifestyle. Let our vision be big mind, and the ripple effect of our actions immense.

*(7.5 billion humans consume 56 billion farmed animals per year globally, excluding ocean life, which is only counted in tonnes.)

Mother Ocean

August 12, 2017

Humans and all organisms are members of the system we call planet ocean. As members of this system we form a web, knotted together intimately and inextricably. We are born from the ocean, supported by the ocean, and return to the ocean, and we need the ocean to live. The ocean is not just what supports us; it sustains us. It cannot be considered a commodity, because it is our greatest resource.

(Michael Stone | “earth” has been exchanged for “ocean”)