Hi friends, welcome to June. What a month it’s turned out to be already, huh. To manage my stress levels (and take advantage of the fact that temperatures are still below 100) I’ve been taking Bella for even longer walks around the studio, through neighborhoods that are lined with charming houses of all different styles. I often stop in front of the ones that catch my eye and imagine what it would be like to be reading by that bungalow’s bay window, or having breakfast on that charming two-story’s balcony, or sitting on the front yard swing of that Colonial corner home.
The interesting thing I realized on my latest walk was that the houses I like the most are not necessarily the biggest or newest, the most modern or bold, or the ones that are freshly painted and updated. It actually rarely has to do with their own architecture and design – it’s how they integrate, complement, or amplify the natural beauty of their environment that makes me stop and stare. It’s not the bay window, but the sunlight that pours into it. It’s not the balcony, it’s the splash of bright pink bougainvillea dangling from it. And it’s not the swing, but the majestic tree from which it hangs that I find so striking.
My sister is an architect (and she’s married to another architect!) so I know how to appreciate good design and construction. But I also know that there is nothing man-made that can come close to the breath-taking beauty and perfection of what grows wild and free, without human intervention.
This, of course, applies to us as well. Beneath bodies that we sculpt, pluck, and paint, and brains that we overwhelm with data and logic and opinions, lies a perfect, wise, and blissful spirit that the yogis call the Self or the Atman, and that you may refer to as the Soul. We don’t have to do anything for it to be this way, it’s beautiful precisely because it grows wild and free, without our interference.
Unfortunately, this part of us – the only part that’s real and true and unchanging- is often buried beneath layers and layers of thoughts, emotions, trauma, education, conditioning, preferences, and belief systems that we absorb without realizing. Over time, it’s buried so deep within that we forget it’s there.
When we do not recognize the beauty, joy, and pure divinity that already exists within us, we suffer. And when we don’t recognize this beauty, joy, and pure divinity within each other, the world crumbles.
We’re living through extremely challenging times right now, but it’s important to note that the destruction, aggression, and violence we’re witnessing are symptoms of a dis-ease that’s rooted deeply within our inner world. Social justice is not only about correcting the policies and laws that discriminate, but about correcting the way in which we see – and I mean, truly see – one another. Despite our best efforts, I don’t believe things will change until we stop looking at each other with our eyes, which judge and pinpoint our differences, and start seeing each other with the heart, which finds itself reflected in the heart of all living things.
Man, we got a lot of work to do.
But there is hope. Even though it doesn’t seem like it much of the time, our very nature is to be peaceful, balanced, and kind. We don’t need to learn to be better people, we need to unlearn the crap that’s covering up our essential goodness and the lies that keep us disconnected. Our real home is in the heart, and the whole point of our yoga practice is to make our way back there.
Judith Hanson Lasater says it more eloquently:
“When carving stone, the sculptor removes everything that is not the statue….the art of revealing beauty lies in removing what conceals it. So, too, Patanjali [in the Yoga Sutras] tells us that wholeness exists within us. Our work is to chisel away at everything that is not essence, not Self.”
Like the houses I pass by on my walks, the best a man-made system can aim to do is integrate, complement, and amplify the natural beauty of the people it serves.
Let’s see each other. Let’s serve each other. Let’s walk each other home.
PS. Namaste translates to “the light in me sees and honors the light in you”. Let’s say it like we mean it.