| Laura Spriggs Thompson |
In February, I received a postcard marked “Summons for Jury Service” for the first week of May. “Oh great,” I thought. I mean, I know it’s our civic duty and all, but who wants to actually do jury service? I called each night hoping I would not have to go in. But my Wednesday evening call indicated I was to report to the City-County Building the next day. There were 36 of us and they were looking for a jury for a 2-day criminal trial. I kept hoping I would get dismissed. We went to the court room and were told that it was a child molestation case. You could feel the hearts of everyone in the room sink. I prayed – please, please do not pick me. I do not want to think about this ever happening to my girls. But in the end, I am on the jury.
After they selected the jury, we had a break for lunch. I was feeling overwhelmed with emotion. It was an imposition on my time, a stressor for getting childcare and my yoga class covered and for planning a dinner for guests coming Friday. And I did not want to be a part of this case – I did not want to hear the details. I was mad and emotionally distraught.
I was also just starting an online yoga studies program with my long-time favorite yoga teacher. Each module of the training is anchored by a different deity. Over my years of practice and study of yoga, I have been drawn to the deities and their rich symbolism and mythology, which hold much of the philosophy of yoga. I like to think of the multitude of gods and goddesses as different faces of the one great Energy/God/Spirit/Universe/Divine/Consciousness – however you relate to the concept. Sometimes the idea of that One Energy is hard to grasp in totality, we might not relate to it, we might feel separate from it, or we just don’t know where to begin.
The stories, symbolism, and characteristics of the deities help to make them more relatable to our lives.... Read More
| Anne Williamson |
Oh, the ego! Such a tiny word, so many disparate opinions. Am I to love my ego or hate it? Embrace it or reject it? Is ambivalence a healthy choice? Read More
For me, the jury is still out. However, I did recently run across an illuminating perspective. It comes from Vedic philosophy. (The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in India 3000 years ago; they are the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.) In this philosophy, there is a Sanskrit term ahamkara that is related to the ego. Essentially, my true self or soul, atma, enters a state of ahamkara when my mind begins identifying this true self/soul with external things, whether they be material (e.g., my body, possessions, kids) or conceptual (e.g. my thoughts, memories, preferences). In the Vedic tradition, this identification is an illusion.
In connecting this perspective to the Western term ego, some say ahamkara is the ego, others that the ego helps construct the illusion. Either way, my own experience supports this Vedic idea that to connect to - perhaps even reside in - my true self or soul is to stop my mind from identifying so heavily with the material or conceptual things around it. The truest, wisest part of me - the part that knows what really matters, what brings me real joy, what lessons I'm here to learn - is most accessible when I'm not in a state of ahamkara.
I don't necessarily think this means the ego is entirely bad....
| Amanda Thrasher |
"Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest." - Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild
When I lead and participate in yoga practice, I am reminded that “savasana” is one of the most challenging, yet beneficial poses. For those who are not familiar with yoga terminology, this is the final resting pose at the end of practice wherein one lies on her back, with arms and legs outstretched comfortably, and eyes closed. Savasana can benefit both mind and body by reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and repairing tissues and cells. Instructors often prompt participants to relax completely in this posture, to surrender to the present moment, and to let go of racing thoughts, to-do lists, and judgments. Regardless of such prompts, occasionally a participant will ask me: “what exactly am I supposed to do in savasana?”
When I ponder the habits of my own daily life outside of yoga practice, it becomes clear to me why savasana may be so challenging for many of us. ... Read More