Bathed in the radiant hues of June, St. Petersburg, Florida, donned the vibrant colors of the LGBTQ+ community in celebration and recognition of Pride Month. Last Saturday, I found myself in the midst of the city’s buzzing Pride Day event at downtown St. Pete. The air was ripe with celebration, but beneath the glitter, cheer, and uplifting atmosphere of diversity, I was deeply moved and saddened by the messages from the stickers and pins that were being distributed – “Be Kind,” “Love is Love.” Why? Because we live in a world where we still need to be reminded of such basic human values.
The necessity of security checks at the entrance and the implied threat of intolerance, prejudice, and potential violence was disheartening and a harsh reminder of the divisions that we created.
The term “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means to unite or to join.
Universal Belonging Fosters Inclusion
My journey as a hatha yoga teacher has always been about more than just asanas or breathing techniques. At its core, yoga is about union and inclusion. The term “yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuj,” which means to unite or to join. Yoga teaches us to identify not with our gender, race, nationality, or religion, which often compartmentalize and entangle us, but with the universe itself. In Hatha Yoga, we align with our primordial parentage, symbolized by ‘Ha’ – the sun, and ‘Ta’ – the moon. This spiritual lineage symbolizes our deep-rooted connection with creation and the cosmos, fostering this sense of universal belonging transcending any individual identifications. We learn to recognize our ‘Self’ not as separate entities, but one with an infinitely expansive cosmos.
This alignment with the universe is arguably an extension of the LGBTQ+ movement’s core principle: dignity, respect, and acceptance for all, irrespective of our individual identities. It is about realizing our inherent unity.
Limited Identifications Create Divisions
If our identifications are not inclusive as such, but limited to our physical bodies, our thoughts, emotions, roles, relationships, or societal identities, we create divisions. This is because we often become entangled in these identities, losing sight of our connection to the broader tapestry of existence, hindering our ability to experience a greater sense of connection and oneness.
Why do we do this? Why do we limit ourselves by identifying with these aspects? Our brains are hard-wired to categorize and differentiate as part of our survival instinct. Society conditions us to conform to specific roles and norms, providing us a sense of ‘who we are’. These identities, these groups we align ourselves with, offer us a sense of belonging, security, and validation. However, in the process, we risk creating what we most fear – rejection and isolation, building walls that prevent our hearts from fully opening and embracing others.
We build these walls, but then we wonder why we feel a sense of loneliness and nonfulfillment. How can we expect to be loved fully when we ourselves are not able to love fully? How can we expect to be accepted as is when we are not able to accept others as is? How can we expect to be understood when we are not able to understand others? How do we expect to unite with the Divine when we are not even capable of uniting with each other?
How We Overcome Limited Identifications
In our journey towards inclusion, I am reminded of the profound teaching by Sadhguru, a globally recognized spiritual leader and the founder of Isha Foundation. He suggests fostering inclusivity by perceiving the world from a mother’s perspective, treating everything and everyone as if you are a “mother to the world.” This perspective encourages us to open our hearts, to be inclusive, and to embrace all life.
Beside embodying this perspective, if we are to overcome our limited identifications, we must engage in introspective practices. Here are a few ways spiritual traditions suggest to do this:
Meditation and Mindfulness: Practicing meditation and mindfulness can help us observe our thoughts and emotions without becoming attached to them. It helps create a space between our true selves and the roles we play. Over time, this can lead to a realization that we are not our thoughts, emotions, or physical bodies, but something far more profound.
Self-Inquiry: This is a practice found in many spiritual traditions that involves deeply questioning our identities. Questions like “Who am I?” or “What am I?” are used to probe beyond our surface identities and help us realize our deeper, more fundamental nature.
Practices of Unity and Love: Many spiritual paths emphasize practices that cultivate feelings of unity, love, and compassion, such volunteering/selfless service or devotion to a higher power (check the practice of devotion/Bhakti Sadhana). These practices can help us overcome feelings of separateness and cultivate a sense of oneness with all beings.
Yoga and Energy Work: Practices like hatha yoga, tai chi, or qi gong work on the level of subtle energy to help overcome the illusion of separateness. By cultivating an awareness of the energy body, one can begin to experience a sense of connection with the energy of the universe.
Teachings and Wisdom of Spiritual Guides: Reading, listening to, or being in the presence of enlightened individuals, such as Sadghuru, can often bring about a shift in perspective. Their teachings often point towards the illusory nature of our identifications and encourage us to seek our true nature.
Remember, the goal of these practices isn’t to negate or reject our individual identities, but to loosen our attachment to them, so we can open ourselves to a greater sense of connection, unity, and oneness. We need to question our beliefs, strive to expand our consciousness, and view the world with a loving, understanding heart. As a Hatha Yoga teacher and wellness coach, I am always here to provide guidance to anyone seeking help on this journey.
The stakes are high. If we do not actively work towards increasing our consciousness and moving beyond our limited identifications, we risk perpetuating a world filled with suffering, isolation, and conflict.
The principles of quantum entanglement and the Butterfly Effect, both core concepts in physics, demonstrate that we are all interconnected. Every thought, action, or word can trigger a ripple effect. This realization is not merely theoretical – it bears profound implications on our day-to-day lives. If we fail to assume responsibility for our actions, if we neglect to work on ourselves, we risk escalating to a point of heightened conflict and discrimination, impacting not only our present but also the world we leave to future generations.
As we walk this path towards greater inclusivity and acceptance, let us remember to approach each other and the world with open hearts and minds. In recognizing and celebrating our shared heritage as children of the cosmos, we can create a world that truly embodies the principles of unity, respect, and love. Let us strive not merely for tolerance, but for a genuine understanding and acceptance of our shared human experience in this boundlessly diverse universe.
Here’s an LGBTQ+ resource guide in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, in case it is helpful. 🙏🏻❤️
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