There are a lot of ways to practice yoga. To make what once seemed impossible, possible. To connect to the divine, to each other, and to the self. The eight limbs of yoga all run to meet each other so we can follow these paths to meet ourselves. Truth, appreciation and love for everything are not impossible, but they require work. And just like anything worth working towards, that practice brings lessons, progress and discovery. It’s not all about getting your leg behind your head – let alone touching your toes- in āsana practice. It’s not all about being a vegetarian and hugging trees (though tree hugs are second to none). It’s not at all about going through the motions and waiting for enlightenment. It’s about actively and compassionately connecting, practicing, and coming back for more. About finding stability and comfort in yourself and your environment so you can move forward through the difficultly of being human with trust and ease. In finding sukha (comfort) and sthira (stability) in āsana, meditation, and the breath (prana: life force in the breath), we can offer ourselves the space and time to focus our minds on ourselves, each other and the Self with true attentiveness. As we bring these elements into focus, we begin to connect all the dots inside ourselves and beyond- connecting to each other and to that one thing that connects us all – life.
Through all of the practices, you slowly but surely remove the cloudy film that obscures sight and prevents you (the collective..us) from seeing reality as it is. This cloud is our perception built of past hurt, experience, lies, realities, failings, and successes. If it worked last time, it should work this time. If it failed last time, it will fail this time. Though this is how we learn fire is hot and we shouldn’t touch it again, if we used that same logic when attempting virabhadrasana 3 ( you know, that first time when “it didn’t ‘look right’ and I could feel the tension in my legs- so I’m not going to do that again” Warrior 3 attempt) we’d miss out on the practice and the lessons inherent in it. So we don’t want to get burned, but we also can’t stay still- as change both internally and externally is inescapable. So how do we know the difference? How do we know what to try again and what to avoid? How do we learn? Because meditation can surely bring in emotional pain as we explore past memories. Deep hip openers can certainly make us uncomfortable. The key distinction we must make is growth. How does this aid our growth? How does this help us heal? How do we become stronger and better? Charring our fingertips over and over will only bring us more pain, death to those parts of ourselves, the deadening of the senses. I don’t think- think- that’s your goal. But consistent practice of patience, stability and comfort in āsana, pranayama and meditation with ourselves starts to strengthen our ability to be patient. To be stable. To be comfortable. Even in uncomfortable situations. It’s then we can see the big picture and our role within it – allowing us to recognize the importance not only of our presence, but also in the presence of us all.
What’s this have to do with jury duty?? With that dreaded annual responsibility that creeps up in the mail and throws a massive steel wrench in your weekly routine…I get it. No one likes it. I don’t care what you say. But in this service, if you take a moment in the process to set aside your aversion, set aside your ego, set aside your day’s all screwed up, set aside it stinks in the assembly room and your ass is asleep…set that all aside and think for one moment that that service – like all service you do- is not about you, something interesting may happen. You look at that defendant, the judge, those lawyers and you see people all striving to do what’s best. What is nationally accepted as right and what we as a people uphold to be justice not just for the victims but for the accused. What an idea. You’ve been called to do your part in this massive undertaking of deciding what is just and right for someone else and all of us. Not just what’s right for you- but the greater good. And we all have our opinions- don’t get me wrong. I think we’re backwards and things are broken. I don’t think our system is the best or even right most of the time and if you’re a juror that doesn’t question the definitions of right and wrong, I would say reevaluate what you stand for. Please. Make sure you stand for something. But the point I’m trying to make is not a political point or a law abiding point or an anarchist point. I’m not calling to attention that which divides us- I’m calling to attention what we often all miss or ignore most- that which unifies us. That this system (again, however broken you may feel it is) is attempting to unite us for the greater good. And that is yoga. In order to do this effectively, the whole system needs the film cleared from the lens so we can all see clearly and interestingly enough, a jury is asked to remove bias, remove the past and any road blocks that prevent fairness, and come to look at only what is- not what they perceive it all to be. And that is yoga. They are asked to come together and discuss, share ideas and communicate opinions openly, safely and freely. And that is yoga.
So while yes- it’s a drag and boring and uncertain and all these things- next year when you’re called for service, think of it as a service. Be there and practice your yoga. Let it yoke you. While you can work on your political agenda and sign the petitions and try to change the world for the better, try to see what jury duty is intending, and uphold that intention. Sometimes, the most powerful things we meet are the things we all know we have the strongest aversion to. Do right by each other. Who knows, maybe if everyone tries to do right, we can bring humanity to a place where crime halts and a jury of your peers isn’t even necessary.
Well.. I can dream, can’t I?