In deep respect to the brilliance of this quote (from my poet hero, Mary Oliver), I have spent the last few weeks watching how upside down and right side up our world presents itself as pure confusion and how quickly we shift perspectives. Years ago, I had a close student and friend who struggled with her embarrassment.
She was nervous to share that she worked for the branch of government called the TSA. She was ashamed and carried a belief that people were judging her for this job. She assumed she was a nuisance to the public as she endured endless long days of abuse and frustration from the many travelers annoyed with her required duties. I would listen to her and try and shift this perspective by helping her see the value in what she was doing for those many years of hard work.
Today, because of the government shutdown, the role of TSA is now seen as an unsung hero. There were cheers of gratitude and exchanges of “thank you” as I waited through the long and tedious lines back from California during the shutdown. I marveled at how public opinion can change and how our learned bias opinions are simply a perspective that can be shifted by holding the opposite.
Yoga is a system of tools that help the mind hold balance in opposites. A state of yoga is a mind that is balanced. If I follow only what I like, it will without doubt lead to future pain. All addictive behavior starts with pleasure seeking, until the pleasure turns to pain. If I avoid what I don’t like, I will remain in my pain and actually create more pain.
If the mind actually moves into attention of its habits, it allows for a space of grace for me to reveal a discerned choice. This glimmer of consciousness is the beginning of devotion. To be able to witness and hold opposites, and move in the direction that is going to serve the highest good for all, is the beginning of devotion to something greater.
Avoiding fear and discomfort is the path of a mind unwilling to let go and expand its consciousness. By making an effort to move into another thought and actually experience a shift of habit, is the practice of yoga. The ability to see from another perspective, and with compassion, is the opening of LOVE.
Love is not a striving (or a doing) of my constant desire to get love. It is a willingness to BE LOVE. The pure action of love is opening, expanding and the willingness to let go of judgement, bias opinion, and the fear of not getting love. Survival is fear. Thriving in life is the gift of feeling the profound joy of being love.
I only know that to use fear as a manipulative vehicle is not in the integrity of this vibrational Truth. For example, trying to inspire health, by promoting fear of disease, is not going to change the mind to move to respect for life. To teach yoga as an outcome to win, or to be better than someone else, is also not in holding respect for the tools.
I can only smile more, hug more. Let’s just commit to attention for a practice of being kinder to ourselves and see how little it takes to be the kindness you want to experience in the world. Attention to this vibration is the beginning of something that words cannot explain or understand. The intelligence of life is love and it is felt. Live, laugh, love and let go as you move forward through the heart. Thank you, dear Mary Oliver, for being this voice of devotion for me.