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Living Lightly: Our Impact As Yogis

“The world’s problems are a summary of individual problems.”

– Swami Sivananda

As a global society, we are sitting at a very important pivot point. We see the world “crumbling” around us. Reports of earthquakes, hurricanes, fossil fuel destruction, shootings and irresponsible tweets from our President. It often leaves us feeling helpless and numb to worldly events. It feels easier to put our heads down and troll through our social media feeds as opposed to engaging and exploring all avenues of right action.

If we sit with these words written by Swami Sivananda, we begin to understand that placing blame or looking outside of ourselves for answers is a futile expense of energy. As yogis we hold an inquisitive understanding about our inner world and our karmic relationship to the surrounding world. This is a dynamic relationship, where the power of choice and awareness rule.

The cultivation of awareness that ultimately informs choice is an active process of pursuit. We must not sit in indifference and “accept” the misperception and wrong action of others. But at the same time, we must not fight with the ammo of greed, guilt, blame, aggression or ignorance. If we choose to step forward with ignorance or anger in our hearts then we will only perpetuate this summary of problems within our inner world and outer global consciousness.

The practices that we do day in and day out are to cultivate awareness that informs right action. Right action that each of us are fully capable of performing within the scope of our lives. Ok, so let’s translate this into really living a contemplative life:

So we see all of these things happening around us and to us…

Step 1: Before you generate an opinion (which is your misperception) sit with your initial psychological response. Ask yourself to feel the emotion without dwelling in it. Examine the thoughts and postures that arose in your layered reaction.

Step 2: Realistically, access what resources can I genuinely give as this time? (time, emotion, support, money) Can I give my energy to these outlets free of negative emotion? Do I have the time to seek out the socially responsible method by which I can personally contribute? Am I truly passionate about supporting this issue, can I do it free of anger?

If the answer is YES then pursue the outlets that are creating positive change. If the answer is NO, BE HONEST with yourself. Not every battle is yours.

Step 3: Begin to subtly dissect the ways this situation reflects itself within your own inner world. This can be rather uncomfortable, and it will require radical self-intimacy. Ask yourself: In the context of my own life how do I perpetuate destruction, anger, taking advantage of others or the situation, violence physical/emotional, lying to myself or others, perpetuating disharmonious behavior that is far from the truth… etc..?

This honest conversation with oneself will start to create a stream a self-awareness that was not present before.

Step 4: Find the global issues you are deeply passionate about and MAKE those changes in your own life first!

Personal Example: For me it’s the environment, veganism, fossil fuel destruction, our industrialized food industry, teaching meditation and sparking change on an individual level from person to person. With these values in mind it dictates the way I shop, eat, think, teach, play, live, consume energy, and relate to the outside world.

This does not mean I ignore the reflection of other global events within my own life. But when push comes to shove I must be discerning with my limited energy. I can give the most energy to truly changing my life through right action in the most effective and pervasive ways for me. I admire and follow other yogis that do this through politics, non-profit endeavors, women’s rights, stopping oppression and so on.

Be discerning, not numb. Sit with your response through cultivating a vibrant understanding of your own misperception. Stop perpetuating destructive action and values in your own life that you see in your surrounding reality. Do your research, get involved with socially responsible causes that you are passionate about. Commit to using social media as a platform to exchange truth, right action and evolved values. Your impact as a yogi is needed.

- Susan Ashley Hunt

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