being an activist is the rent we pay for being on the planet. —alice walker
i’m still adjusting back to my “normal” routine as it’s been less than two weeks since i returned to dc after my jivamukti teacher training intensive. whew! as i write this from a hotel room near chicago (here for a yoga conference), i wanted to summarize some percolating thoughts on carrying yoga off the mat through spiritual activism. activism is an intentional act to bring about social change. if we incorporate spirituality, we’re bringing about social change for something greater than oneself. i love exploring ways to be a spiritual activist in daily life and have put together some of my favorites.
give graciously: consider alternative gifts. this year my mother got a goat for the holidays (and some goodies from the TranquiliT line, of course). the goat was purchased to provide milk for a family in africa. yep, a goat.
volunteer: the good vibes associated with volunteering are contagious. give of your time and energy. the yogic teaching of greedlessness (aparigraha) is embodied when we give freely of our time, resources and goodwill.
veg out: by choosing a vegetarian diet, you can reduce the suffering of other beings and create a sustainable environment in which all can thrive.
be a good citizen: share your voice and vote! stay abreast of what is happening around you. do your share to contribute to your community. if you have a small patch of grass in front of your city condo, plant pansies or an english boxwood. pick up trash when you walk past it on the street.
fill a need: does your office recycle? gather the information on how to get started and request a meeting with the decision maker to present the data. when you see something missing in your community, why not get the ball rolling as the pioneer of the moment? let your actions leave a legacy.
practice mindfulness: start each day by lighting a candle, sitting in meditation, and setting an intention for the day. listen when people talk to you. chew your food. end each day with reflection.
go green: recycle and reduce your household waste by becoming mindful of the resources you consume. according to patanjali, author of the yoga sutras, we are to cultivate a ‘steady and joyful connection to the earth’ so let’s take steps to reduce our carbon footprint. buy eco-friendly products.
live by example: be a source of inspiration to others. let your life be a story that will affect others for years to come.
being a spiritual activist is a state of mind. practice it in all situations. smile at people as you walk by them. say “thank you.” ask your colleague how she is and mean it. take a stand. plant a tree. choose tofu. help somebody who looks like they might need assistance. interact with others in a respectful and reverent way. see local plays. shop at farmer’s markets and from indie designers. if you own a business or manage a team, encourage your staff to volunteer and compensate them for their time doing so.
spiritual activism is a way of life and you offer a unique footprint. do you have visions of joining the peace corps or helping build homes in haiti? or is your vision focused more on nurturing a family or planting a small community garden space in the city? whatever it is, personalize it, ensure it reflects your values, and take action. view your resources as powerful forces for doing good and making a difference. incorporate this notion every time you step onto the mat by dedicating your yoga practice as a way to serve the world. recognize the interconnectedness of all beings. notice how your actions affect the world and never take this for granted. time and money are valuable commodities. choose wisely. namaste.