After the election

I have been quiet, but I am here. I was invited to a 'yoga and race' conversation. I paused. I am leery of 'yoga for', anything. In particular, I don't know that we should use our yoga to address systemic problems. I'm afraid that's whitewashing. Your yoga will not save the world. It might though, save you. That is the point and has always been the point. We need to work through and with our own, problems. Race was a white American problem, before the election results. Blaming, shaming, now says more about us than the country or republic. Do what you can. Use your practice. Use it to sooth yourself, steady yourself, see more clear. And then let it, and the safety pins, the facebook, the reactions go. Don't mistake practice for peace, social justice, or an answer. Just do it because it helps you.

A photo posted by Karin L Burke (@coalfury) on

Since the election, everything feels upended, volatile, and confusing.  I encourage you to use all the tools of your practice to help with this: use it to sooth you, to ease the excess of tension and fatigue riddled across the body, to find a bit of space around your emotions, actions, and social roles.  It is terribly important that we take good care of ourselves, now.

And, I encourage you to realize that your practice is not going to solve your, or the world's, problems.  It is only a tool.  Don't mistake it for an answer.

As a way to steady yourself, to not be alone, practice is a tool of non-harming.  As a way to escape, it causes suffering.  It too easily slides into self-righteousness.  It is too easy to forget that practicing  - especially practicing together - is a privilege.

The thing about privilege is its tendency to be forgotten or denied.

I raised some heckles about six months ago, when I said that yoga is not as inclusive as it claims or wants to be.  It uses a lot of words and ideals.  Often, it has given those who practice it a renewed or completely new sense of empowerment and connection.  But it is not inclusive so much as it is race blind.  And race blind (or gender blind, or social justice blind) is nothing but loud ignorance.

This is hard.  And, it's okay.

If we don't realize our privilege, its a tool of harm.  When we do realize it, we can perhaps wield it more skillfully.

So many people have been surprised by the election's results.  Angry, terribly disappointed, disillusioned.  We are mourning, and grief is hard.  Notice, however, that many people of color were not surprised.  Notice that newsworthy acts of racism have been perpetrated by children. Notice that race and power issues, gender, sexuality, and assault issues, gun issues, environmental issues, were real long before this election.  Notice that Donald Trump even running for the presidency highlights a virulent current in our culture.  The issue may not be that he won, but that he had support to run in the first place.  #notmypresident expresses tremendous rage, a sense of disempowerment, and revolt.  But it also denies the process of presidential elections: Trump IS our president elect.

The election was, indeed, a critical moment.  Don't fall into believing, I said in community discussion the other day, that this was an election like any other.

Go deeper, go closer, use the practice:

It can help you.  But it's end result is to send you back into the world.  Private, and public.  Real, time.

Don't shame others for their reactions, feelings, protesting or deciding not to.  Realize that millions of people voted for conservative, neo-fascist, fear mongering politicians across the ballot: if this is surprising, than we need to more realistically understand our neighbors, just as we need to understand who is vulnerable and what vulnerability means.  Wear your safety pins, but don't think them more than a gesture.  Post or do not post on social media.  Join, civic organizations.  And know that it's also okay to not join, everything.  Do your practice.  But go closer into understanding what these things actually are and what they are, not.

Practice is both self care and the cultivation of skillful, action.  It's the discernment, of one for the other.  Don't confuse your self-care for other people's benefit.  And don't become so active/passive that you lose all possibility of self-care.

Take very, very good care of yourself.

And act, skillfully as you can.  Knowing that skillful is sometimes this, sometimes, that.