You are not normal. Yes, you. You are not normal.
The world is "normal" in its greed, in its obssession with consumerism, in its relentless pursuit of exploitation, in its massive violence towards animals, in its routinary destruction of our planet in the name of economic progress. That is normal. You with your interest in yoga- that which teaches oneness, kindness, and compassion- are not. But as a slogan in Jivamukti Yoga Berlin says, Why Be Normal?
In yoga, there is the concept of the ha (sun) and tha (moon) channels. One of the most important scriptures of yoga is Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which means light on the sun and moon union. According to the Jivamukti Yoga book, Hatha Yoga refers to "the dual state made up of all the pairs of opposites: male/female, pleasure/pain, good/evil, night/day, left/right. When these preferences are overcome, the boundless Self manifests in the yogi".
I believe no one will have a strong objection when I say our society is patriarchal, aggressive, and competitive, leaning too much on the sun qualities. That is what normal means to us. Philosopher Ken Wilber says that our behaviors are largely driven by the chemicals testosterone and oxytocin, which is reminiscent of the sun and moon qualities taught in ancient scripture. I looked further into this and found an episode in This American Life that spoke specifically about testosterone. A man who had stopped producing it described himself to have lost desire, but not in the negative way our cultural disposition would have us believe. He said he started to see beauty in everything, from the crack of a wall to a bug. He felt he was seeing the world through the eyes of God, detached and objective, seeing beauty as a natural state. This, to us, is not normal. Furthermore, I looked into Paul Zak's work on oxytocin recorded in TedTalks and found out that it relates to trust and morality and compassion.
As yogis, we have the opportunity to take control of restoring balance into our lives- and into the world- through our own thoughts, patterns, and behaviors. When we practice asana and we face certain challenges getting into or holding a pose, what attitude do we take on? Do we become competitive? Are we unforgiving towards ourselves? Are we imbalanced in that we are disregarding our moon side? Or can we be more accepting, more compassionate, more nurturing? One may argue that you have to be tough to survive in this world. But is this world, the greed-stricken, other-exploiting, ego-centric world the one we want to be protective of? Or would we rather break down this current structure and build upon kindness and concern for others?
Why is it so important to observe our thoughts and tendencies when we practice asana? If we want yoga, if we truly want to be liberated, then we must be willing to undergo a revolution of the spirit. We start by changing the patterns that keep us stuck. If we cannot be kind towards ourselves, how can we be kind to others? If we cannot get past our egos, how can we be open to the world that exists beyond the I, me, and mine?
Only compassion can free us. Only compassion can help us restore balance in the world. In this world of normal where the norm is disconnection, are you not glad that you are not normal? If you are willing and if you are able, please choose compassion. All the time. For yourself and for others. I urge you to continue on your path not to be normal.