Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Balance & Politics: Finding a Leg to Stand On

Oh the politics of the moment are such fertile ground for my practice!! Watching the pingpong ball fly back and forth between angry outraged entrenched political adversaries just tempts my blood pressure and old habits to rise to the occasion.  How to find center, that ground upon which I can stand and see clearly that the intentions on all sides are fundamentally emerging from well meaning impulses, and get beneath the superficial slapdash untruths to the kernels of fear and control that shape political policy and so often public opinion and beliefs.  Just try standing on one leg to get in touch with that combination of fear and desperate desire for control.

There is a moment of fear for all of us when we take one foot off the ground. Funny that every step we take requires that one foot lift off, and with practice and experience we begin to have confidence that momentum will carry us forward to the next step. On stairs too, or stopping in mid step to change direction, we must get through that moment before touch down.  Sometimes we choose not to notice that moment. In my yoga teaching I call attention to that moment, making it mindful, cultivating awareness of the great possibilities that are already within us to let go of the fear-based pattern, and judgments -- allowing the reality of the moment through.

In asana practice, we seek the source and structure of balance, the foundation that supports that lift so that it is no longer mysterious. We find our muscles and bones, we widen our hands and feet on the earth, we stretch through the binds and open where we thought we were closed. It is still scary.  The mind can create the scenario in a split second, without words or threats. The body reacts to the intensity of risk and effort; our self image is on the line. The foundation holds steady, and the breath, with mindfulness, continues smoothly expanding and releasing.  Perhaps we experiment with ankle rotations, or lifting that leg and straightening it, or propping it against ourself, foot to inner thigh. The permutations of balance become endless once we find that center. In reality there is freedom where in the grasping for control we lose our foundation.  This is the difference between standing on one foot and standing in fear of falling off our self made pedestal.

Still, this is a solitary pursuit. One body, one mind, working closely with faith and memory to maintain equilibrium, dwell in equanimity, experience openness and find the possibilities.  Creating a social environment that fosters this ability in others, no matter where they stand, now that would get my vote in a flash. Not that yoga practice will necessarily change one's politics ... but at least there's the opportunity to be clear from whence our motivations arise for the impulses to run the lives of others with rules of our own making.


  1. Mandatory yoga for Congress? In my dreams :)

    1. wouldn't that be amazing? transformation awaits us all, whether we are working towards it or not. death quietly smiles at every birth, part of the continuum.