Often in yoga classes the teacher asks the students to think about something they’re grateful for right now in that moment – their body, their breath, a person, a situation. This sounds pretty hallmark-y but is actually a pretty effective tool for landing the students into the present moment - one of the key aims of a yoga practice. If you can think of something you’re grateful for in that moment no matter what other areas of life may be hard or difficult then you’re instantly pulled from worrying about the future or rehashing the past into where you’re at right here right now and focusing on something – even one little thing – that is good about that.
And that’s pretty powerful right? Living as we are in the death throes of a failing capitalist system we spend a lot of time locked away in our own wee individual brain boxes obsessing over where we’re at vs where we think we should be. That can manifest as hatred towards our bodies – too big too small too visible, not right. It can manifest as fear / panic over where we’re at in our lives –work (should be making more money, should be higher up on the ‘ladder’); relationships (not enough friends, should be married, too much sex, not enough sex), stuff (should own a house, a car, fancier things). It can manifest about worrying about how we live and spend our time (volunteering more, working too much, developing skills, hobbies, having more fun, going too many or not enough parties)...
And literally EVERYONE does this. Everyone feels like they’re failing. Everyone feels ‘wrong’. Yes even the person you look at enviously and think they’ve got it totally sorted, ‘perfect’ body, partner, stuff, job. They also feel like a pile of failure jobby much of the time. This is the system at work, this is an intentional state. The busier we are worrying internally about all of this guff the less we can pay attention to what is happening outside of us. The less we can connect to each other. The less we can organise. The more your head is in the past or future, then the less your ability to be and act in the present – and the present is where things actually happen!
And even when we realise and know this, it’s really hard to believe and live it for sure. It’s a practice, like yoga, like anything. And tools you can use to develop that ability might be to practice gratitude, as outlined above and through gratitude, you might arrive quite quickly at joy.
I LOVE joy. For me it is the natural product of being present – a deep, nourishing but also energising / electrifying JOY. And I can feel this in my yoga practice, I can feel it encountering art, or at a gig or whilst DJing (as per the image chosen to accompany this chat…lol, hiya/sorry Amandah / the Hug and Pint), or being with friends. Like suddenly I’m wired into a deep appreciation and understanding of the beauty of the world, of people, of living.
But sometimes this isn’t accessible or possible, other things might be going on and it’s difficult to get to a grateful/joyful place. In these moments I practice trust or faith (a thing that initially felt weird to me as someone who has always been pretty non-religious). I started by just trying to entertain the possibility, almost as an intellectual exercise, that what if I wasn’t actually ‘failing’ or ‘wrong’ but exactly where I need to be at this time. And what if even if I felt stuck & hopeless, actually I was processing, moving, things were shifting around and about and inside me and all I had to do was trust and be.
Belief in something bigger is a key part of yoga philosophy and yes this might be a type of ‘god belief’ but it could also be just a recognition that you are fundamentally a part of this world, a part of nature. And nature is never stuck, it constantly regenerates and shifts and finds innovative, instinctive ways to grow and thrive. Can you trust that this is happening even if your worrying wee brain tells you otherwise? From there you get to HOPE – expansive and serene and peaceful – permission to relax, to be. A body knowledge that it will be fundamentally ok.
And for me the wider ramifications of this are massive. The more we manifest and live in states of joy and hope, the more we love and care for ourselves and each other, the more awake and connected we are and the less containable and controllable we are. If we love ourselves and are content and can just ‘be’, then a system that depends upon us our unhappiness, upon us never being satisfied, feeling like we constantly have to be doing or buying STUFF to fix ourselves, cannot sustain.
I could talk ALOT more about the intersections of this and other forms of activism but this already feels like a lot of chat and if you’ve read this far then well bloody done. Stop reading, get out there, be here be now and start manifesting some joy and hope. Loads of love!