See Clearly, Act Well, Do Yoga

Doubt – Fatigue or apathy – The feeling of being stuck, or overwhelmed – Incorrect or incomplete knowledge – Confusion – Loss of motivation.

Perhaps one or more of these is familiar to you in your experience of learning about or taking action on climate change.  These are among the obstacles to seeing clearly found in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, one of the foundational texts of Yoga.

One teaching of Yoga is that we have no choice but to act, and our actions have consequences.  This is simply the reality of how the universe works.  Even when we think we are not taking action, that is also an action, and has consequences.   The very fact of our existence means we are acting and affecting the world around us in some way.

Since we can’t avoid action, it is important that we act well.  What does this mean?  Yoga teacher TKV Desikachar described it as to “never act in a way that we will later regret.”  This requires having a keen understanding of what we are doing and how the world works, so that we understand the likely consequences of our action.

Acting well, therefore, depends on us seeing clearly.  In fact, this clarity is the very definition of Yoga found in the Yoga Sutra.  Patanjali goes on to describe the practice of Yoga, which is intended to reduce the obstacles to our clear seeing, so that we know what we need to do.

When we “do Yoga,” when we breathe and move with intention and awareness, we involve our whole being in our experience.  We learn much more deeply than when we simply read something, or “think about it.”  We uncover deeply held patterns of mind, assumptions, biases, and misperceptions that cloud our vision.  We create the opportunity to see more clearly and make better choices for action.

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