Facing the Gestapo at his door, the man spoke with confidence and authority, “No Jews here”. The man was of course lying. A family of Jews had been living in the basement for many months.
This story was a point of great discussion between my father and I when I was about 10. We were driving to a nearby town. Dad to play golf and me to be his caddy. (Reflecting on this as I write, I am asking myself, why did I want to go with my father on that trip.. did I like doing it, or did I do anything to have one on one time with my father?.. reflections now that are also coloured by my memories of his life weeks before his death, and his death itself).
On the road trip the story was part of an interview on the radio involving a priest and survivor of the holocaust. The interview was a rationalization of the ‘lie’ told by the man to the Gestapo. The priest used the term “Meta Truth”. I was intrigued. (We were a “good” Catholic family – was this priest saying it was okay to lie?)
The conversation with my father and my memories of the interview about “Meta Truth” greatly influenced me. Right and wrong were not black and white. The bigger and broader our understanding the less likely we were to judge something as good or bad. (And I hope you haven’t made the assumption that my Dad was good at broadening his perception of things.. he wasn’t. He was the most “black and white” type of human imaginable).
What enables us to lie with conviction? When is a lie not really a lie? Within a Meta analysis, is anyone responsible for anything? Are humans capable of being completely honest?
And with all we have heard in recent years about Priests and their capacity to rationalize lies to protect others, serious questions must also arise in our own hearts and minds about who we protect with our lies and why – what is it that we have to lose or gain from a lie. Where does the power to lie, and get away with it, come from? Is it only socially constructed power, or how much does the element of personal conviction determine the effectiveness of a lie?
This is the stuff that Yoga is made of.
When we practice Abhyasa and Vairagya (Disciplined action and renunciation) – which by the way are “The Yoga Practices” as noted in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali I.I2 “Abhyasa vairagyabhyam taniroodhah” – we learn to accept the complexity of being human. Through acceptance we develop the ability to question our memories and to dismantle the conviction of our lies. As we hone our skills of discernment and tap into deep forces that pertain to balance, stability, heaviness, lightness, we are actually meeting fear and desire. We feel the tap of ignorance on our shoulder. Our perception of experience and the experience itself are not the same things. We know this in the very cells of our being… it is no longer a construct of understanding. It is an experiential truth. We can confidently and calmly accept that our mental faculty (memory and emotions) are bias. That our mental view is a construction that functions to keep our ego intact.
Cognition - through the lens of memory and emotion obscures the purity of wisdom from experience. The very gift of being able to think, becomes a system of betrayal. To exist within experience alone, devoid of memory and emotions about how great or terrible a situation is,… well I would say, is impossible. But this is not a problem is it? As we practice this is what we re-cognise. We experience the desiring mind; the flood of self judgement; and.. we re-focus our attention to actions that locate us in the present. The moment. The energy.. our mental juice.. our concentration harnessed – not through desire to perfect the pose… harnessed through a willingness to surrender oneself.
Our stories about experiences can be dismantled through our practice. When concentration becomes meditation, we free energy trapped by our memories and lies and new light shines on experiences. Our cells and tissues change as vibrationally we re-cognise the experience from a place of safety and love; a place of completeness and ease of Being. Making peace with ourselves is a courageous and revolutionary process. It is the path walked by a Yogi, day to day moment by moment. If we don’t trust ourselves, we cannot trust anyone else.
Yoga provides a context in which teens, living in a sea of peer pressure, performance stress and emotional change, learn restraint and self reflective awareness. This course for teenagers aged between 12 and 15 years of age, will both challenge and nourish them.
Due to poor balance I had never consider yoga was for me as the images most often seen in posters and magazines show perfect bodies with amazing balance. October 2014 a few weeks before my 71st birthday I walked into my first yoga class. I have been asked “is it worth all the effort at your age?" My answer is “YES” yoga is even more important as we age. Seniors have experienced a life time of stress, raising a family, paying the mortgage, working at our chosen careers as well as balancing a family household. We have all experience grief, loosing grand parents, parents, aunts and uncles now at age 76 I am loosing cousins and life long friends. Our bodies have endured a life time of wear and tear from injuries, poor posture due to sitting and working at desks and repetitive actions such as housework and gardening.Yoga is ideal for all seniors even those with physical limitations, in our classes it can be quite normal to have several variations of a pose to suit individual needs. Learning to work with your body not against it is the same challenge regardless of age. Nursing several old injuries I do not want to add to them, I am very grateful to have well qualified teachers who are attentive to my needs and dedicated to keeping all students safe whilst practising. Yoga is not a quick fix for all ailments, I still experience some back and ankle discomfort but now rarely need to take pain medication. Today I am sleeping more soundly but occasionally still have a restless night. My time management has improved although at times I still talk to myself and loose focus. The big difference is I feel I am in control of my afflictions they are not controlling me. I am coping better and with my regular yoga practise I hope to prevent my health concerns from becoming chronic. Hopefully I can reach savasana with less suffering and with more dignity than my mother. Joan