Do you like gum?
You might already know the word Yoga (योग) comes from the Sanskrit word yuja (युज), which means “connector. ”
I encourage you to consider your “connections” at this moment. I visualize myself as a piece of gum rolling around out in the world. I pick up little bits of lint and dog hair and sometimes other pieces of gum. By the time I get home I am “connected” to many things I didn’t consciously choose. I was going simply about my day and picking up bits of my environment as I went along.
An interesting element of our connections is the ones that we unconsciously pick up but happen to share. Sharing connections creates groups. Little tribes, clubs, clusters. I roll around in my little area picking up similar lint as my gumball neighbors. You and your gumball neighbors do the same.
When we share these environmental connections we may start to unconsciously identify with a group. This helps us find an answer to the existential question: “Who am I?” It also boosts self-esteem helps satisfy our human need to belong.
However, if we haven’t consciously chosen the connections and groups that will help us satisfy the need to belong, and to boost us, we risk signing up for something that doesn’t fit us. For example, a group of people holding a similar viewpoint or perspective will tend to amplify that viewpoint among its members. (You enjoy french fries, I enjoy french fries, he enjoys french fries > we love french fries!)
This amplification of values can distort the reality of who you are. (Do you really love french fries?) It’s important to examine your own values and hold them up against the connections you find yourself making.
Groups help improve our self-esteem. However, in times of ambiguity or stress, we may distort our perceptions of our own group so that we know our group is better than the neighboring one. We may do this without ever even knowing what that neighboring group is about! (they probably enjoy french fries – who doesn’t?)
This is where the yoga comes in. You may be able to use your yoga asana (postures) practice, meditation practice, or other mindful practices to dust off your gumball at the end of the day. To clean off the little pebbles and gravel you’ve connected to. (The easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to connect to your breath or physical sensation in some way – then, you are connecting to yourself only – a neutral and inherently true entity in respect to your Self.)
Then you can examine your own values and consciously decide if the connections you’re making, the groups you’re joining truly “serve you” (that is, amplify the qualities and attitudes that you find truly uplifting and important) You can examine your perspective – is stress eroding your self-esteem and causing you to denigrate another group without an honest assessment?
Maybe you’d like to examine the environment you’re rolling about in. Picking up lints and dust bunnies is probably inevitable, and not all inherently harmful. However, if we find ourselves constantly picking up things that make us really sick at the end of the day, maybe a shift in habit is in order.
Please enjoy these free yoga videos I hope they will help you pull that dirt off your gumball and get you rollin in a conscious and positive direction. (Just something to “chew” on. HA!) There are also more free yoga audio and video podcasts on my website and on iTunes.
I am also hosting a fantastic Glow Yoga Event for the Winter Solstice that will be fun and rejuvenating. I’d love to see you there. Namaste!