Activism on the run and on the mat

      Recently, I was running in the early morning. Spring has finally fully established itself here in the central United States. Trees are starting to grow leaves again and flowers are starting to bloom. A cool early morning breeze was at my back. It was a moment of fullness.

            This experience is something that I have taken to the yoga mat as well. Yoga emphasizes the connection between body, mind, and spirit. In fact, yoga moves often incorporate “the earth” or ground into the asana. Recognizing the connectedness between what we might do physical presence and our spiritual and mental sides of the equation.

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            If we are physically training with the earth, how should we respond? I put this question forth because physical training, whether it be running, walking, yoga, weight lifting, rolling, or something else, may, if we allow it, raise our consciousness about our presence in the world.

            If we embrace the presence of the Earth or earth into our physical training, one observation we might make pertains the closeness of creation with our lives and those of others. Each of us is a beloved part of that world. Sometimes, however, we might not feel so very beloved or not respond in a compassionate manner. Apathy, outright hostility, and denial, unfortunately, can stall where we may want or need to go as a society and as individuals.

            However, we can also take another path. This path would recognize the interconnected nature of human interaction both with regards to how we impact each other and in reference to the natural world. We must understand that our decisions have real consequences that might go beyond even immediate connections, impacting people and places that are not in our particular social worlds.

      While these individuals, places, animals, plants, and ecosystems may be out of our immediate purview, in an interconnected world there is still a moral, spiritual, and practical imperative to respond with care. Moral action is often turned into a battle between the individual self-preservation and the greater good. For example, in a time of job scarcity in many parts of the world, some politicians cast anti-global warming measures as “job killers” because of concerns that regulation will negate job growth. Likewise, attempts to desegregate schools and improve performance are often met with either subvert or outward resistance because parents are most concerned about “their own” children.

            While self-preservation may have some redeeming qualities, one could argue that it is not really all that introspective. For example, wanting society’s institutions to stay exactly the same can be a self-preservation strategy.  It is individualistic, in a sense, in that the individual is concerned (perhaps rightfully so) about their own individual lives and those of their families. However, there is also a moral danger to that worry which can make these decisions more superficial. In reality, this individual worry may be based less upon what might work best for the wider world, or even the individual, and focus more upon anxiety about change. Casting decisions through the lens of anxiety alone can cause physical, mental, and spiritual harm either collectively or through our own individual lives.

        

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    When we engage body-mind-spirit connection, however, and focus beyond ourselves, we may be able to let go of some of our own individual (and collective) anxieties. I would invite you to respond with your own experiences with this concept. How do you age body-mind-spirit connection in your own life? How does it inspire you to action? 

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