The Definition of Define
I got called into the Head of the School's office at my daughter's middle school earlier this month. Yep, something was "wrong". And someone was in trouble.
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Before I tell you what happened, I want to frame out my monthly blog of life's lessons for our new readers. The focus of my teaching for the last few years has been on helping you take your yoga practice off your mat and into your day to day life. My goal is to help you figure out how to hold on to that feeling of accomplishment, restoration, balance, understanding, zen, sacred connection, and breathing room that you gain during your asana practice for the rest of the day, every day. And I sincerely hope that my fumbles and lessons learned along my own journey might help you on yours. So here we are: my lesson learned this month.
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I had asked the school why the interest based clubs the students enjoy in middle school (knitting club, social justice group, running club, coder's club, etc) appear to shift toward race and ethnicity based groups in high school. I questioned the binary approach of attempting to define people in this way rather than letting people define themselves and build community around what they value, enjoy, and do together. My belief is that if we wish to break down barriers we can't begin by building new ones. But, my views aside, here's the lesson I learned and hope you'll consider this month.
The definition of 'define' is to:
- state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.
- mark out the boundary or limits of.
The translation of 'yoga' is:
- "union". It is derived from the Sanskrit root "yuj," (pron. "yug") meaning "to join", "to unite", "to bring together", but also "to control" as in controlling the fluctuations of your own mind. The English word "yoke" is also derived from the same Sanskrit (Indo-European) root.
As adults sitting around the table that day, we had to admit that our thinking was limited and our children are, in many ways, more advanced than we were giving them credit for.
To assume that we can define people with boxes — Married. Check. Black/African-American. Check. Female. Check. — and that those boxes will suffice to explain how those people are being human on this earth is by definition limited. Our children use entire phrases to "define" themselves and many don't see themselves in the boxes currently available. Their view of themselves and the world around them is yet unbound.
So how does this apply to you and your practice? Consider how you 'see' and define yourself. Consider how you think others 'see' and define you. Feeling a little boxed in? Did you know that there are no naturally existing squares in nature? This means all of the boxes designed to contain us, define us, limit us are constructs. With a steady application of the principles of Yoga, you can choose at every opportunity to continually re-define how you're showing up and being human in this lifetime. You can choose to reaffirm truths, correct untruths, and own your authentic self until what "they" see aligns with what you already know ;-)
When it sinks in that you are beyond definition, I'll be here and stoked to hear your liberating story. And if you're looking for a small tribe to join while you embark on your reclamation, take a look at the trainings, workshops, and journeys available right now.