The tension within coexistence…

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“Coexist.”

That was the first word the stranger said to me, a provocative introduction between souls!  She sat down with me at the lunch table, stating the sticker on my laptop – and the synchronicity continued to reveal itself!

The night prior, her Tibetan Buddhist meditation group had focused on coexistence, an exploration of the concept – accordingly, the foundation of Buddhism is grounded upon the concept of “interdependent co-arising”. The conversation continued to expand into the nature of modern day society – the reorientation of ‘connection’ and isolation within this technological era.  This transitioned to discussing the possibility within shifting human consciousness, a revolution birthed out of an interdependent co-arising!

I wonder to myself, are we far from that arising?

What are the steps and possibilities within this?

Definition: peaceful coexistence

…without war, or a policy of peace between nations of widely differing political systems and ideologies.

Is coexistence simply to accept one another and tolerate living in harmony?

I’ve heard peace defined simply as ‘the space that exists between war’! However, often within a yoga practice, the mantra Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti will be heard. Om is considered an essence, a vibration of the universe with no direct translation and shanti, directly translated to mean peace.  However, we don’t call out Om Peace, Peace, Peace – because shanti is also considered a vibration within a mantra that calms and removes the obstacles of physical, divine and internal nature.

So what is the vibration possible within coexistence?

Could coexistence be more than the definition offered above?…consider the unity of opposites, the balance found within healthy tension, the interdependence required within an organic system – we have a responsibility to the planet to transition and transform habits of tolerance, of power over, and the beliefs of individual freedom.

If resistance to any entities that make up a system is present – on a cellular, individual, community, national level – interdependence is forfeited.  Granted, change is constant and ongoing, a constant tension is an integral component of coexistence.

So practically speaking…

On a global scale – coexistence with the planet has been and is still present within some societies (slowly coming closer to extinction!) however, with an overarching system that fundamentally believes in individual freedoms, separating the parts…the change and transition begins within a person.

What does coexistence look like in practice?

Are the terms coexistence and unity closely related – could coexistence be the space between our inhale and exhale, the tension in relationship between our breath, body. and spirit?

Perhaps the ‘vibration’ within coexistence is the tension present amongst the interdependent relationships within a dynamic planet.

Keep exploring the possibilities!

Progress?

The thoughts in this blog are an extension of reflections I had within a course I am taking at school right now.  It focuses on ‘development within the present neoliberal context, a capitalist world order’…

…Interpretation: we live within an ideology, a daily paradigm that is obsessed with progress.

Development and progress are close relatives.

Within the Oxford Dictionary, progress is defined as follows:

noun

Pronunciation: /ˈprəʊgrɛs/ [mass noun]

1. forward or onward movement towards a destination

2.  development towards an improved or more advanced condition

It may be relevant to note that development is within the natural cycle of evolution, however, is only accounted for if an entire population of species changes and shifts it’s properties as a collective.  Development of an individual is not considered evolution.  However, personal development, development of an individual, often requires some conscious effort – it may include personal growth through a number of different processes such as improving self-awareness, building upon self-knowledge, developing strengths and talents, spiritual development etc…

So when development of an individual is taking place…how does it impact the collective?

And…what does this have to do with progress?

Progress could be associated with major themes such as social, scientific, technological, or philosophical progress…and it can also tumble into a ‘progress trap’: the condition societies find themselves in when human ingenuity, in pursuing progress, inadvertently introduces problems that it does not have the resources to solve, preventing further progress or inciting social collapse.  AND…we may be finding ourselves spinning the wheels within a progress trap…(sorry for the downer).

Stick with me on this next story –

So I was immersed in my yoga practice, striving to embody flow and breath, in mid sun salutation, standing forward bend…when all of a sudden my inner critic spoke up! (7:15am…an early morning for the critic!)

So what about all this talk progress?

How is it showing up in my practice?

When I live within a massive over arching system that is captivated with the magic of progress (often interpreted as accumulation of monetary wealth, getting fitter, getting prettier, better clothes…more clothes, big house…bigger house…etc) – how does that impact my, your, practice?  How does the engine of progress creep into many of our practices?

(to say the least…I was a bit distracted by the critic for a good portion of this practice!)

Do I practice with vigor or softness?  What are my intentions and…the intentions beneath those? How do intentions carry one through a practice?

(This is where the yama’s and niyama’s may provide some insight for the foundation of asana)

I raise these questions because the silent hum of progress is often beneath the subconscious mind and I recognize how easily the magic pill of wanting progress…not the kind that comes through subtle life…but the progress that happens NOW!

With anything that is practiced, there will be growth and development, movement forward, progress!  However, the exploration is – how to stay in the moment and trust the opening that will become available instead of feeding the engine that pushes to be better, faster, now?

And finally, if we are so focused on the progress of the individual within our practice, what happens to evolution?…the development of the collective – how is our progress contributing to that?  What does yoga for our present day political, economic, environmental, social contexts look like?

Essential to our nature is our integral and intimate connection to everything else – so what does a cultural revolution of the heart look like in the name of progress?

Exploring habits and addiction.

Since the last post in June, I stopped running, biking – all physical activity – including yoga practice…that’s stopped doing asana (physical postures) and pranayama (breath work)…hence the blog being quiet.  The summer months became a metaphoric inhale, the opposite of any previous summers that are usually filled with exhale and experiencing the essence of life in action and movement.  The inward journey was certainly filled with challenge, questions, agitation and doubt yet, thankfully, all the while walking beside me was curiosity, trust in the darkness that the exhale would come, and an ongoing commitment to spirit and soul.

The choice to stop practicing physical yoga came with a parallel process of working as an Addiction Support Worker with men aged 18-25.  It came with the recognition that every human being on this planet deals with addictions of varying degrees – our society as a whole has addictions!  I happened to be working with beings that had experienced significant trauma and their tools for numbing the hurt and pain, for covering agitation raised by memories, came in the form of self destructive substances.  The honour of being witness to these young men’s journey’s of healing raised a number of reflective questions.

In what forms do my addictions come?

Why do I choose these habits?

What is my mind, body, and spirit experience motivating me to choose these habits?

I became a witness to my agitations and chose to explore them instead of striving to calm them with yoga, running, or physical exertion…the actions of always doing!

So did I really stop practicing through this time of inquiry?

If yoga is the art of being an active participant in union with life, then perhaps in those last few months I deepened the practice?

I returned to the physical asana a week ago – a new beginning!  These past 3 months of reflection, investigation with my soul, slowing down and inviting space to enter my life in the places where I would normally practice, run, or do something.  The practice of slowly re-orienting the action of always doing and inviting the process of just being to rest a little deeper, has supported many subtle shifts to take place.

Yoga or running never felt like habits…addictions, however, I acknowledge the resistance that rose up within me when I stopped, all the chatter in my mind about why this stupid choice, the doubt, the resentment!  I even heard myself say to a friend…”yeah I haven’t gone running in a month except for on my birthday – but it was my birthday, I deserved a quick trail run on my birthday!!” Oh the traps our mind can talk us into!

So the journey of being a witness has deepened and by no means is finished!

This new beginning is embodied with a deeper essence, an exploration in softness and presence in the moments instead of distractions of doing…and it continues to be a journey!

So all this being said, what now?

Don’t take practice or habits for granted.

Investigate what comes up if you alter your habits or choices.

Take time to notice.  Simply notice and observe.

Ask questions.  Don’t be attached to answers.

Explore what being looks like for you.

and…create time for the best medicine possible – Mother Nature.