Start the New Year Right Now

Join me for another New Year’s Day Yoga Class. All levels welcome at YogaYoga in Newhall, California. From 10am on January 1st 2017. This is my third annual New Year’s Day class and meditation. Everyone is welcome. But I don’t have to wait until New Year to turn over a new leaf. Neither do you. Today can be the first of the next 365. I start here. I start now and the whole of my holidays are jollier.

Four Actions, Four Asana, and Four Meditations for the Bless your hearts, Holy-day Season

Actions

Support good causes with money not wishes. If I love my church, yoga class, meditation group or what ever feeds my spirit – I show my support tangibly.  After all, if I cheerfully, gladly, easily, hand money over to the cashier at Wal-mart for wrapping paper, or Wells Fargo for a mortgage – then why the hell not give money to hard-working “spiritual” individuals?

Turn off the default setting. As my mom used to say, “It not that watching TV in itself is so bad; it’s the time not spent doing other things.” I gift myself with two extra hours for each two the TV is off. I give myself an instant raise of $80-$200 dollars a month by canceling the cable.

Be manual, not automatic. Celebrate the end of the world, society and infrastructure by becoming skilled. To my credit I can drive a stick-shift, churn butter, sew on a button, bake bread from scratch. The practical arts will die without revival. Be a doer and a thinker.

Be a reader. Reading is the most advanced technology our species has created to date. No other animal on the planet communicates beyond the grave to the extent we can. Don’t let literacy die. Utilize and support print material. Read for comprehension, read for pleasure. Read to keep reading alive.

Asana

Learn and practice Joint Freeing (pavan mukta) for a gentle warm-up. Pavan mukta is a reasonable warm up for Surya Namskara. I consider joint freeing kriya as a daily tune-up as necessary as brushing my teeth.

Learn and practice Sun Salutes (surya namskara). Think of Surya A,B, C, D or K as a graceful miniature vinyasa, which build strength and preserve flexibility

Standing? Seated? Supine? Inversions? Twists? Chose asana based on need. In the ho ho ho holiday stress, balance poses create levity. Inversions broaden my perceptions. Standing poses build strength. Seated poses feel protective. Backbends are heart openers.

Finishing postures. Some end with savasana. I end in a lotus. Yoga’s not a contest. It’s a skill. Pick the posture that grounds you, then finish.

Meditations

  1. The grass is greener near the water

Nourish supportive relationships. Parch drama. What ever I feed, grows, whether that is love or hysteria, sadness or euphoria. Does that mean ignore problems? No. Meditate to find resolution. Don’t fret, worry or day-dream and call that meditation. Meditation is not that.

2. Normal doesn’t equal natural

To “love thy neighbor as thyself” may be normal; that don’t mean it’s healthy. What if my neighbor is an asshole? To love her the same as myself is a cheap shot. Why should I allow her to take advantage of others? Why should I sit silently by if she sells stolen goods, supports price-fixing, or ridicules autistics? Perhaps the vast majority of problems in this world are not created by the actual bad guys but by the people who watch and say nothing, refusing to intervene. Silence may be normal but that don’t mean it’s natural. We had to be taught to sit back and shut up. Meditate to uncover other bullshit commonly accepted beliefs.

3. Don’t have a judgement

Once upon a time during the Vietnam war Americans actually came to blows with each other over issues as meaningless as the length of one’s hair. I swear I don’t make this shit up. Forty years later we embrace all manner of hair fashion expression. Neon pink hair, mohawks, skin heads, long hair are all acceptable. We collectively accept the mantra “Don’t have a judgement.” Pretending all is well. White liberal America believes racism, sexist, and fascism are over. oops. That hatred still exists wasn’t a secret to the haters. Wasn’t a secret to victims. It only came as a surprise to those people who don’t engage in bigotry. Well I for one see a silver lining in this meditation. Can you?

4. Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men

Determine to face the world in the yogic belief, that is: as it is. Face the world as it is. Make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. Evil, being, not the love of money, (a silly definition at best, inadequate.) Evil by my own definition, “the exploitation of the vulnerable,” exists. No nonviolent movement could have vanquished Hitler’s armies. Negotiations won’t convince David Dukes’ followers to lay down their hatred. Barak Obama once said, “To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

I do not believe the majority of humans are bigots. I estimate a paltry 7% would go so far as to kill me for being colored, or gay, or disabled or disenfranchised. I put a much higher estimate of 13% for the vocally enlightened, i.e. those willing to say- out loud – “That ain’t right” when presented with prejudice, jingoism, obscene intolerance. So what for the 80% remaining majority? The 80% are people who wouldn’t organize a scuffle, wouldn’t traffic drugs or humans – but would (and do), stand by silently when witnessing abuse. Half the 80% may not find dirty, racist or fat  jokes particularly funny – but they will (and do) fail to speak out in protest. Thus the haters misunderstand, taking silence for tacit approval. This silent 40% comforts themselves by inwardly thinking, “I’m not a gypsy, nor a Jew, so why do I care?” Or they go on Facebook and report to other liberals how “shocked” they were, how unnerved, how utterly unable to react.

The other half of the great silent majority live in silent agreement. They may not organize witch hunts but they say things to me like “I hate seeing fat people at the beach. Such people shouldn’t be allowed.”  These people, I believe, fail to call the police even when they hear their neighbor abusing her husband because – because they “don’t want to get involved.” You see these people being interviewed on television after his death saying things like, “they seemed like such a quiet family.” These people don’t commit bad acts, they wish they could. They hate others in principle if not in practice. They suffer a gay neighbor, they don’t get to know a gay neighbor. Such people can’t be reasoned with. They consider themselves pillars of the community. Are they?

The good news is, active-bigots plus passive still only numbers 47%. We can overcome when and if, the silent 40% join the vocal 13% in being vocal. Stand up for the disenfranchised, out loud. Say something in the moment, not on Facebook. Say something to the perpetrator, not to your friend. Don’t wait for someone in authority to “handle” it, the Blue lives wield a questionable authority.

How ’bout it? Ready to change the world? If not you, then who? Brave people. The kind of People willing to sit next to me at a lunch counter in Greensboro North Carolina. I mean shit, it’s 2017, not 1977. Those were the “good ole days” for who? Be the kind of person who isn’t interested in turning back the clock. I vote we ought to be ashamed for thinking for even a minute that radical inequality made America great. Marriage inequality whether we’re talking race or we’re talking gender ought to be an embarrassment not a source of pride. Right? Am I right?

Now Y’all play nice!

Sat Nam