Doing Small Things
Dear Friends, Welcome back from your summer travels, whether they were geographic travels or simply inner explorations. I was fortunate enough to spend a week at a mindfulness retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh outside of Boston this month. As is often the case, the time I spent in mindfulness, and listening to my wise teacher was life changing for me.
One of the things that was most alive in me during the retreat, was awareness of my own aging and impermanence. Thich Nhat Hanh spoke about the impermanence of our individual human nature, but also about the impermanence of all civilizations. We seem to be facing some changes as a planet and a civilization, and I am sure that each of us has felt sadness and possibly despair over what we can do to help. What I heard from Thich Nhat Hanh was that although no civilization is permanent, we don’t help future generations if we panic or give up. If we practice facing our fears, we can have the courage to work to help our civilization live longer and more beautifully on the earth.
I have been trying to make small changes in my own life in order to help protect the earth for future generations. But to be honest, sometimes it feels like just too big of a job for an individual like myself to have any impact. Two things have helped me with this despair. One is my mindful yoga practice. To practice yoga is to increase my own awareness and to wake-up to life. The more I wake-up, the more I can tolerate a life with less consumption. In the past, I have used consuming (of food, TV, etc) to escape from discomfort. My practice is helping me to be more fearless and to require less consumption of resources.
Secondly, I come back to the wise teaching of the Bhagavad-Gita (an ancient Hindu text revered by Gandhi) which says, “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work.” This is much harder than it sounds. To continue to work without being sure that we are making any difference at all, is a challenging practice. But it’s one that makes sense to me, and helps me to make sense of my life. So every time that I do a small thing to help protect the environment, I try to see if I can do it without the pressure of thinking that I have to save the whole world.
It feels to me like there is a growing awareness and willingness of people everywhere to start to make changes in order to protect the lives of all beings and of this precious earth. If you are interested, on September 22, it will be worldwide Car Free Day (www.car-free-days.org). Also that weekend, there is an international yoga day to support the environment -- the Global Mala. DC events will take place at GW (www.dcglobalmala.com). Also, on September 15, the Mid-Atlantic Yoga Association will sponsor an all-day Yogathon (www.MayaYoga.org). And during 2008, we are hoping to make the Circle Yoga building 100% solar powered.
I look forward to reconnecting with you all at the studio this fall, and I would love to hear from each of you if you have any thoughts about workshops, community events, or life in general.
May we continue to support each other’s work without attachment to the results.