Understanding the Interconnectedness
“And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself, well... how did I get here?"
The suggestion from David Byrne’s lyrics is that we are largely unconscious in our daily lives. We have heard this before. Our busyness feels like productivity. Yoga and meditation practitioners bring mindfulness through a mechanistic lens to optimize the way they engage. So if we are preoccupied with our goals, family and friends, is there time to lend ourselves to civic engagement? Yes. Just look at the innovation of digital natives through crowdfunding for social causes at home and abroad.
The yoga community has long understood our holistic interconnectedness. The practice of mindfulness and concentration enhance the concept that we are all "one." Camaraderie exists amongst us in the sports arena, Star Trek gatherings, etc., and the tribal aspect of yoga which allows us to cultivate a call to peace for all beings, hence the dictum, "Lokah, Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu." Yoga teachers often galvanize their students, friends and family into volunteerism with powerful mantras like this. If you were encouraged to donate your time in the yoga community you have shared in karma yoga. Karma serves as a yoga of selfless (altruistic) service, derived from the Sanskrit kri, meaning ‘to do’. Yet karma yoga is distinct from the law of karma, which relates to the law of cause and effect. Yoga teachers embrace public speaking, knowing persuasive rhetoric serves as a conduit for consciousness, shifting us away from the steady ruminations of our own shortcomings. Selfless service provides a clear path to reduce suffering, which benefits all beings.
Buddhist peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn evokes compassion through a triad of ethos, pathos and logos that redirect our perceptions with the practice of insight. Thich shares in the Buddhist ideology of the Noble Path, which begins with Right View. Right View is our wisdom and our ability to have deep insight. This practice of insight brings us to a clear awareness that all human beings, animals, plants and minerals are interconnected. We all live in unison, an interdependence without which we cannot survive.
With this revelation of interbeing, we can engage authentically. Empathy is genuinely felt and not placed there by obligation. We sense our civic duties, and if we find ourselves of sound mind and good health, we may engage in service to humanity. But perhaps deep down we all instinctively feel interconnectedness. We just need to be reminded every once in awhile. As we listen and sense our primordial instincts, we begin to understand the truth of our existence. With clear insight, we see deeply inside ourselves and into the hearts of others.
Jodi Fischtein is a mixed lineage yoga teacher, loving the many aspects of Ashtanga, Prana Flow vinyasa and Yin yoga. She has Thai Yoga massage training and is currently immersed in MBSR protocols at University of Toronto. Through the dedicated work of Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, Jodi experienced a shift that speaks to inner peace. Being a mother of four opened the gates to empathy. With the practice of deep listening she is able to better understand her yoga community.