As humans, community is at the heart of our happiness and health. We crave conscious connection, and the vast majority of people are looking for interpersonal exchange when they enter into a group dynamic. The yoga community is no different in its collective need for interdependent communion, and in most instances the yoga studio offers a physical container for fostering love, compassion, and acceptance.
As with anything created by humans, sometimes the intent is misperceived, and in the worst case scenario it can actually be used against those it was intended to serve. Let’s look at public education. Public education was intended to offer ALL students the access to free education intended to lead to literacy and a better life. Over the years, government has twisted our public education system, and ultimately shifted the focus from the student to the teacher by imposing standardized testing, teacher quota, and other forms of benchmarking. These tests are not designed to assess the students knowledge or ability to apply the skills they are learning, but rather these tests are designed to determine whether or not the teacher is doing an adequate job instructing.
The moment the attention shifts from the student to the teacher is the moment that the community shifts from interdependent and uplifting to dependent and controlling. When the teacher becomes “Head Master” the students lose their voice, and ultimately their ability to learn and practice the skills being taught. This paradigm is prevalent in our public school system, but it also exists in our social circles, churches, government, and support communities.
Last week as our country tried to right itself after a natural disaster swept thousands of homes into the ocean, the world saw hundreds of thousands of people coming together to trudge through the water and help their neighbor. The outpour of support and love has been uplifting and encouraging to witness, but we still have a long way to go. For every rescue there was a casualty, and for every casualty there was a gaping hole that can not be mended with government aid or a warm blanket.
Amidst the social media outcries, heartbreaking status updates, and depressing headlines were countless fundraisers and opportunities for support those experiencing loss. At first, these events were backed with images of the disaster, images of hope, or images of rescue and rebuilding. As the days went on something changed though. The focus shifted, and it started to become more about who was doing the service rather who was being served.
When we take the seat of service, when we decided that we are going to go into a profession where we are lifting up others, we lay down our intention to lift up ourselves. It is impossible to lift others up if we are preoccupied with ourselves and our status in society. Whether we are taking the seat of a teacher, a doctor, nurse, clergy, or any other profession where we are called to come clean of our own agenda, it is important to set our own ego aside and put the person or people we are serving first.
As I scrolled through my news feed Friday afternoon I saw so much heartbreak, so much pain, and then I saw so many community leaders promoting themselves. It made me think, when did it become about the teacher, or the politician, or the corporation? When did we loose sight of the students, the people?
Social media has brought an onslaught of psychic energy into our homes. It has given the world permission to promote personal agendas, projected judgements, and personal insecurities. It has become a vehicle for the world to download their personal projection to everyone on their friend list. Perhaps it’s time for us to take a look at our values and check in to see if they are in alignment with the energy we are emitting.
Of course, this article is no different; it is in fact my personal opinion about the misuse of social media to propagate individual’s popularity during times of disaster. But there is no judgment associated with this editorial. Essentially, this is yet another opportunity for us to check in with our essential values, to identify what is really important, and to realign our intentions towards the greatest good. There is no place in our schools, churches, government, or so called communities for narcissism. Perhaps it’s time to check in with our intentions, with the application of mindfulness (non-judgment), to see if what we are putting out is a reflection of our loving kindness.