The February Jivamukti focus of the month is storytelling. The whole month could unravel by just telling stories, but for now I wanted to lay down the groundwork, and to put a disclaimer, so to speak.
In all spiritual traditions, it is through the telling and retelling of stories that teachings are given. Whether it's Jesus, Buddha, Krishna or Allah whom you are inspired by, chances are you remember their teachings through stories that were passed on to you. It is a beautiful thing to hear stories of tradition and inspiration, but we have to be careful and do the best that we can to read into the intention and context of the stories, and not rely on the literal imageries that were perhaps intended as metaphors. As yogis, we have to keep an open mind and do our part in searching for Truth.
I heard that when the Dalai Lama visited San Francisco one time, he was asked about his opinion on homosexuality. He replied that it was not something his religion approves of. The gay community, upset upon hearing this, arranged for a meeting with the Dalai Lama wherein they spent a day in open conversation. At the end of it, he was known to have publicly detracted his previous statement. He said he was mistaken and suggested that the traditions of his religion could be misguided. For a spiritual leader to come right out and say that his religion could be wrong about something takes strong moral courage. It is to detach from the stories and traditions and beliefs that we were fed blindly, and instead connect to the stories that are still alive, the stories of those who live alongside us, the stories of equality and justice and freedom without discrimination.
Think for a moment of the stories that may sometimes bring you doubt. It may be a story of tradition, of what we were told was the norm, what we were told was right, or you may think of a story of a personal nature. We sometimes have that story running in the background, that we are somehow not good enough or worthy enough. Could it be that we are also mistaken? Is it time to rewrite these stories?
When we practice yoga asana, we may get into poses that are difficult that really test our patience and increase our frustration. Remember that any story- be it the journey of our yoga practice or the story of this life that we live- has its share of highs and lows. Every story has a dilemma, a challenge, a problem to be overcome. It is part of the story; but it is not all of the story. It can be resolved. It will be resolved- if we are patient enough to sit through it.
Prepare to do a pose you find challenging. Before you put your physical body into the pose, prepare mentally. As you inhale, think "I". As you exhale, think "can". I can. Say this to yourself a few times, sealing your intention with this affirmation. I can. Add any word or phrase or sentence after the words "I can" as you see fit. I can be patient. I can be positive. I can admit my mistakes. I can let go of pride. I can be free. I can be happy. I can be liberated.
To look at our old stories and have the courage to admit that it is no longer relevant and that it is time to change is one of the most liberating things we can do for ourselves. If there is something in our lives that we are not completely happy about, we can start from wherever we are and change course. We may not be able to change history, but we can look forward and create and rewrite a new story. We can be inspired by the story of the Dalai Lama and realize that there is a better way, a more peaceful path. Our story could be a living expression of Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.