“Come from we are connected” is another nice sounding phrase that often gets said in Baptiste Yoga. It’s lovely isn’t it? It’s very much in line with other popular yogi phrases such as “we are one”, yoga meaning union or the culturally appropriated (and inappropriately used) meaning of Namaste: “The light in me bows to/is the same as the light in you”.
**side note: I have learned from the amazing Susanna Barkataki that there is actually no I in the true meaning of Namaste and it is a greeting used to honor elders, not an ending as it has been appropriated”**
Anyways, these are all lovely and nice ideas, that we are all connected by some greater power or energy or really the way I see it: what you do affects me and what I do affects you. I’m totally down with coming from we are connected. I believe it and I believe in living that way.
And what has been so incredibly disheartening this last year is that so many yoga leaders and wellness advocates alike have actually seemed to be coming from the exact opposite place. In the middle of a global pandemic where a tiny microscopic virus has been wreaking havoc on the collective of humanity, most especially marginalized communities and people, I have heard more talk from wellness and yoga leaders about the unfairness being bestowed upon them not being able to work, or live life the way they are used to, more than any recognition or reverence paid to the very reason WHY so many of us have been forced to surrender our livelihood for the time being...because people. have. died.
Believe me, I understand how much it sucks to be someone who wants to work but cannot. I was once an actor and am married to one. You get to do the work you love doing, if you’re lucky, a small percentage of the time. Both my husband and I had to pivot in this pandemic. He even had to pivot from his pivot that he relied on in normal times, when the work of his choice as an actor wasn’t happening. And we have both spent this year working, incredibly hard I might say, towards trying to figure out how we can now create a financial livelihood for ourselves and our family that will be as sustainable as we can make it. We are waiting on some things to see if they come to fruition and as I have spoken about recently, our immediate and long term future is incredibly uncertain at this moment. It sucks. And it’s ok.
We understand that in the last year, our lives and familiar world have been rocked because we could no longer afford to live in the city that was our home, because neither of us had work there because people were dying from a deadly virus. We understand that it’s difficult for him as a white cisgender male to get a job teaching at the collegiate level right now because most insitiutions are having to take an honest look at the equity and diversity of their departments and recognizing that they have work to do, which will inherently effect who they hire. We understand that for the first time ever, being a white cisgender male is making certain privileges go away. And we understand that if things are going to change, these are some of the ways in which we will be affected as two people who hold privilege. And because we come from we are connected, we are ok with it. Don’t get me wrong, I want both he and I to be doing work that fulfills us and makes a difference in this world. I want us to be able to provide for our daughter and for her to be well taken care of. But I also want things to change and so if that means that life gets a bit harder for us, or really the playing field gets more and more leveled, so be it. It’s time. Actually, it's overdue.
Calling out unfairness simply because I’m being told that we haven’t quite figured out yet how to make things safe and right for everyone, not just the privileged few, is really only taking a stand for oursel It’s not zooming out to take a moment to recognize our individual place in the bigger picture and really taking stock in where we fall on the privilege scale. It’s ignorant and focused solely on individualism and capitalism over collectivism and real connection.
Look, I know leaders have screwed up. I know that it hasn’t been done perfectly or even well at times. Politics itself is a very messed up space at the moment. And there is accountability and dismantling to be done there just as much as every other space. But none of us, not one of us including our politicians and leaders have ever lived through a pandemic before. There isn’t a manual. There is science and data and public health standards. And as much as I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT stand behind the need for better social and emotional integrative practices into our society, like yoga and meditation and even certain natural health and wellness practices, it cannot come at the expense of the safety of those who don’t have access to those spaces and practices in the first place. We are important and essential as human beings and our work as champions of well-being is essential. But our business (as usual) may not be essential to the moment of need. It’s a radically honest truth that may not want to be heard, but I’ll say it because I believe that we can hold two truths at the same time: our work can be essential overall and in the now, not so much. It doesn’t have to indicate or mean anything about our personhood or our choice of career. It doesn’t mean we have to stop either because we can innovate in ways that keep it going and keep it safe. And many have, including myself. But it’s not unfair simply because we want to work as we always have, because it feels better to us. I am willing to bet that if we could ask the 550,000 plus who have died as well as their families, that they would want to be able to work too, but that being alive is much, much better.
So yes, come from we are connected. Say it often and to others if you wish. But only if you can really make it mean a kind of connection that doesn't stop just at what and who you can see directly in front of you. Only if it doesn't stay a nice phrase that falls trippingly off the tongue but when faced with making choices, both practically and in our attitudes, that would really prove that the connection is real, you back out because of your personal inconvenience.
I believe that we are connected and that what I do affects an entire ecosystem of other humans, even people I have never and will never meet. And so because of that, I got my vaccine today. My daughter came with me and held my hand. It’s been quite a year that has turned her life upside down and inside out. But I can’t stop at just being concerned about her life, because that wouldn’t make me the kind of mom I want to be, who raises her child to see beyond the end of her own nose and recognize that the reason why she matters so much is because she has an actual and very real impact on others. Not just a superficial one that looks good on Instagram.
How are you coming from we are connected today, but for real? Share in the comments because I genuinely want to hear from YOU...because we ARE connected!
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.