Traveling a lot lends itself to being exposed to non-stop consumer culture, artificial light, continuous human chatter, not to mention hours upon hours of hip flexion in small spaces from which reprieve comes when its broken up by standing in front of someone whose main job is to discern whether or not you are a threat to the safety, freedom or economy of the country you are entering. The more I travel the more I find the same airport designs of the same shops selling the same clothes, creams, devices that you will use maybe once (if you are lucky), the endless bottles of liquor and the countless boxes of cigarettes making its way into each city.
As I walk down the street the shops repeat, the style and fashions are almost identical and it seems in many places that the natural progression is toward an ever increasing homogenous shopping complex where we are encouraged to move from sale to duty free to entertainment and back to another sale.
Even yoga is not safe from the gravitational pull of the heavy, dense, sedentary body of a culture based on immediate results with minimal action and maximum fanfare and acknowledgment from others. I go from place to place trying to teach what I know and have experienced about the ancient teachings of yoga and sometimes I cannot help but wonder have I become another product in market that sells what you want only to keep you from what you need.
When I fall into this feeling there is only one thing that helps bring me out of it and remember that my true desire to create a shift in myself so that my happiness is not based solely on material possession or exploitation of others - including the earth; by physically placing myself in a setting not entirely human made. To find places that are ancient and silent, to explore areas off the beaten path to see the manifestation unfold and to interact in ways that are beyond my intellectual understanding, these opportunities communicate to me a way of being in the world that I have lost touch with yet yearn for. I want to be an ally, friend and even champion of these special enclaves. I want to be immersed in the peace that is found in the simple act of sitting silently with the trees or walking over rocks that have been shaped by the great forces of time and environmental change.
Most recently I went to the Blue Mountains about 2 hours north of Sydney. An area that has been preserved since the time when Australia was still connected to Antartica and New Zealand. I went with a dear student and friend Sandeep, in fact it was her idea. We spent most of the time in silence using our mantra and mala while walking through the rainforest. As we did a whole new world opened up with sounds unheard of in an airport or in most major cities. A sound of nature that only comes with the diversity of species and a wide array of micro environments and climates. The whole thing revived me and reminded me of the importance of what I do.
I use yoga as a tool to expand my own consciousness, to bring a greater sense of intelligence to my understanding of the interconnection of life and of our human impact upon the world around us. It is from that place that I teach. So many people live in cities and most often people with the most influence to effect change spend most of their time within the environment of the metropolis. It is here that yoga can be of enormous benefit. If we can together create a shift in what our values are, what we choose to support with our money perhaps a change is possible. If we can see how our food choices are diminishing the worlds resources and our desires for recognition through sense gratification is blinding us to the beauty inherent in nature there may be a chance to be an ally of nature. Going alone can bring about a deeper feeling of commuion but going with others has benefits as well. Walking with other that know the surrounding and the wildlife that lives there can help guide our interaction. Sometimes we want to be of service and end of causing more harm than good.
The Day after the blue moutains I went ot Wattamolla Falls and was about to through out my food scraps when one of my friends who also work on keeping native species thriving in the Australian Bush told me creating soil that was too rich would encourage weeds that would then kill of the diversity of the bush. I needed some help to be a better ally. Go out, with friends and alone. Just spending time with another allows for the ability to nurture to arise. Let nature remind you how to nurture...and maybe a friend too!