Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mother Earth

Mother Earth 
by Rabindranath Tagore

Infinite Wealth is not yours, my patient and dusky mother dust!
You toil to fill the mouths of your children, but food is scarce.

The gift of gladness that you have for us is never perfect.
You cannot satisfy all our hunger hopes, but should I desert you for that?

Your smile, which is shadowed with pain, is sweet to my eyes.
Your love, which knows not fulfillment, is dear to my heart.

From Your breast, You have fed us with life but not immortality, which is why
Your eyes are ever wakeful.

For ages you are working with color and song, yet Your heaven is not built,
but only it’s sad suggestion.

Over Your creation of beauty, there is the mist of tears.

I will pour my songs into your tender face and love Your mournful dust, Mother Earth.

This poem reads like both a love letter and a letter of apology to the Earth.  Mother Earth holds so much beauty and yet so much suffering and devastation as well.  This poem is an invitation to examine how you interact with Her.

Nature is one of the easiest ways for us to connect with our Source - when we look at the vastness of an ocean, the majesty of a mountain range, the power of a waterfall, we have some sense of the miraculous nature of the energy/life force/oneness that brings it all into being. We recognize that we are a part of that creation and so our actions, our attitude, and even our thoughts are directly connected to the health and wellbeing of all that surrounds us. 

I think most of us, myself included, take Mother Earth for granted. It seems incomprehensible that Her resources might one day not be there for us, and yet we know that if we don’t radically change some of our habits that this might actually be the case.  Fortunately we also know that intention is a powerful catalyst, so when we set ours meaningfully on the change we wish to see in the world, and follow through with our actions, that we have the power to make manifest those changes.

(Aside: for a powerful commentary on how we take mothers in general for granted, check out this video! The Hardest Job)

Yoga gives us the opportunity to think about the way we place ourselves physically in the world.  We become more aware of how we walk on the Earth – does it support and sustain both ourselves and our environment?  Through our practice we cultivate sensitivity, inside and out.  As we become more sensitive, we more easily and readily notice imbalances and misalignments and can respond to them sooner, before they become bigger issues.  With increased sensitivity we are more aware of people around us, to their needs and desires and joys and pains, and our relationships become deeper and richer as we become more compassionate.   When we cultivate sensitivity we are more able to see the interconnectedness of all things, and our place in the Universe.

Off the Mat:
Ok folks, a million ways you can affect Mother Earth here!  Here are some of the ways, over the years, my family has chosen to create a more sustainable lifestyle. We have done away with paper napkins, disposable water bottles, disposable plastic bags for snacks, lunch boxes and groceries, and disposable diapers (ok, I do cheat and use them when we are travelling).  We have limited disposable wrapping paper and individual food containers (like for yogurt and kefir – we buy the big ones and portion in out in our own reusable containers).  Even having made these changes, there are so many more still in the queue– what changes have you made to effect change in your world?  What changes do you still need to make? Let's start a conversation...or a revolution!  Post a tip!

On the Mat:
We worked on sensitivity in our hands and our feet this week.  From the simple act of bringing the hands into Anjali mudra one fingertip and knuckle at a time, to staying really present and grounded in the four corners of our feet during drop backs into Urdhva Dhanurasana, we were ever mindful in the way we touched Mother Earth.  We placed our hands and feet with intention in every pose, steady and unwavering in our touch, engaging just enough to support ourselves and honor the Earth at the same time.

Open To Grace: Become more sensitive in your touch, the way you engage with the earth. 
Stand in your pose the way you wish to stand in the world.
Wake up your hands and feet, the organs we use to engage with the Earth, so we can be more sensitive to Her needs.
Maintain connection and sensitivity to the Earth even through transitions (like during Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutation).

Muscular Energy: Drink in what Mother Earth has to offer you from the hands to the heart.
Draw up from the Earth all that will sustain you.
When we ourselves are out of balance we get distracted and forget to be sensitive to our environment, but if we can pull into the place inside (the Focal Point) that we feel connected to all things it steadies us and brings equanimity to both ourselves and our world.

Organic Energy:  Offer your love and support back to the Earth.
Send your intention to nourish and sustain Mother Earth out into the universe.
Pour your songs into Her tender face and love Her mournful dust, Mother Earth.