My Ayurveda teachers have taught me that the body struggles with change, even positive change, and that even bodies that tend toward change have a hard time with it. One way to pursue peace in the body and peace of mind, one way to achieve ease and grounding, is to pursue repetition. The body craves pattern and repetition.
Let me tell you about a pattern of repetition I see around me: Black people are murdered by law enforcement, often, but not always, white.
Who is craving this repetition? Who is made more peaceful, easier, healthier, by this pattern?
Did you know another black person was shot and killed by the police yesterday? His name was #AltonSterling. He was someone's father; he was trying to make a living; and I haven't watched the video (yes, there's video, and if you watch it, I hope it never leaves you), but I read this account from the Washington Post--which contains the video--and it sounds like he was not trying to resist.
According to this project, Alton Sterling is one of 505 people who have died at the hands of police brutality in 2016, and in some other sources that number is closer to 558. It has happened in all 50 states. There are 25 more fatal shootings this year than there were last year, so our numbers are up.
And if you didn't go looking for what's trending in your Twitter feed, or if some woke soul in your FB echo chamber didn't share any info about it, you probably have no idea.
Yoga texts and yoga teachers often talk to me about transcending the body, about the edges of the body falling away, so that the divine spark within me can be still and grow and connect with the Divine Spark around us all.
I have yet to hear anyone tell me how to practice if my body isn't safe on the surface of the planet. How do I deepen my breath if I can't breathe? How do I unroll my mat if I'm not sure I can step foot out my door? How am I to transcend my body if existing in my body is a criminal offense, punishable by execution without trial?
Get the fuck out of my face with that rhetoric, yoga. If you can tell me that life is an illusion, then you probably have the privilege of seldom living in fear of losing yours. I will transcend my body when we live in a world where I am safe enough to exist without being threatened by soldiers who move through my community with impunity and weapons. Until then, I will take my black female body into every space I move through, demanding my right to exist, to speak, to breathe, to reproduce if I choose, and to live as free as the rest of y'all. I will demand that my physical body is not to be transcended, but instead is to be celebrated and engaged with, is as powerful and important a tool in my spiritual journey as any mantra, any mudra, any spontaneous descent of samadhi. I don't care what day in July it is, I don't care how many fireworks go off, and I don't care what songs are sung about our history. We are not a nation of free people. And if you think that you are free, yoga, if you think your freedom is not bound up in mine, then you have profoundly misunderstood the very rhetoric you posit.