Let's Not Forget About Sangha

13.5.12

“Yoga is about giving Love and Light to everybody: Those who love you, those who harm you, those who you know, those who you don’t know. It makes no difference, you just give light and love.”   - Yoga Master Indra Devi


Beyond my own practice one element that becomes important is the sangha (community) centered around practice. Sometimes I feel like this is the missing element in the community or maybe lack of community. What I've observed, often we confine our community only within the walls in which we practice. To me, it goes much further than that. If we cannot connect with each other openly while making this practice a part of our lives, I think we've missed something. If we cannot be open and generous within the yoga community, than what hope do we have to attain this in the outer world? It matters! It truly does.

When I moved to Stockholm I was shocked at the dividing lines drawn. I even got the brunt end of unspeakable negativity while being kept at arms length. Maybe because I was considered an outsider or maybe because I came in with a fair amount of experience. It's hard to tell. However, for me, the sad part is, I came into the scene a bit naive, because I honestly felt if there's any place I'll be accepted, no matter what country I found myself in, it would be in the yoga community, and well, reality gave me a different lesson. It hurt. However, time passes on, and the sting of rumors spread, that were clearly untrue, burned, as I kept quiet to it all. Even though it took time to heal and recover from the resentment, I am thankful to the naysayers, because it forced me to find strength I didn't realize I had. I'm still standing. Now I can say thank you, because the new found determination that came forth through the experience was born.

So what gives? Yoga is an internal quest, not a showcase for external prowess and/or the acquisition of territory. I came to yoga when my body and spirit were broken. A recognition. From then on, being on my mat has felt more like home than any home I've had or probably will have. At the center of it all, practice has been an inspiration of the heart. If it wasn't, I would have done something else. When we layer hierarchies, dividing lines, cliques, and smattering of gossip on top of it, aren't we missing the point?

For a long time I shrunk back and kept quiet in regards to the negative treatment. I'm not sure suffering in silence is always a good thing. And now, I've come to a point where I no longer feel like doing so. As the internal becomes strengthened, so does the intolerance for bullshit. I'm just saying. Through the sharing of honest experience, I can own all of it, and be better for it, because at the end of the day, transforming it into gratitude has healed me. Which begs the point, if we've lost the love, we've lost everything, even the meaning behind why we practice. It isn't a commodity to be acquired.

Truth is a wonderful thing. Transparency is grand.

This energy extends out beyond the limits we manufacture in day to day life. Illusions. Let's cut through them. However, it will only happen if we do it together. Each word we utter carries weight, whether you know it or not. Is what we engage in, through talk and interaction, bringing us together or dividing us apart? A good thing to inquire, and to inquire on a regular basis.

Why limit reality within the walls of the familiar? We must step outside our comfort zones. We must shake free of our labels. If we close the door on learning from others than something is amiss. The learning never stops, especially when there is an opportunity to learn from someone new or to even gain insight on another perspective.

What I've learned is it doesn't matter if someone carries a certain level of certification, or even if they have the means of owning a yoga studio. It doesn't always equal a form of enlightened existence. It took me time to realize this with startling clarity. With that being said, most of us move forward on the path with the best of intentions, but at the end of the day, we must ask ourselves who are we serving? why? And, what for?

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