Several months ago, I began working on the development of some new products. As I began to contemplate a name that would encompass the product line, the words “Affirmative Living” came to me. I was really excited, so I shared the concept with my mastermind group. A couple of the people in the group didn’t understand what the phrase meant and asked me to rethink my concept.
There is a quote that sums up my experience heretofore with yoga better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know from whom or where the quote came, or I would totally give the person mega props and a huge, bear-like, electronic hug. The quote goes a little something like this:
“My yoga practice is no longer the battlefield of a long-waged self-improvement project by an overachieving person. It has become what I always hoped it would be — a place for love and acceptance.”
I think this quote embraces the yoga journey for many of us, because let’s be real here: How many of us started yoga because we wanted a thinner waist and perky yoga butt? How many of us, in the beginning, saw yoga as something we would conquer rather than embrace? How many of us saw someone in Crow Pose and said to ourselves, “I can do that shit.”
Over time, however, as we dove deeper into our practice — no doubt bumbling, grunting and falling along the way — our hardened layers begin to peel away, and we were left with the lingering feeling that yoga is something more than a way for us to gain strength, flexibility and balance. As we emerged from Savasana, time and time again, we began to realize that something else — something besides exercise — is going on here.
Vandana Shiva is a physicist, ecologist, and activist. Despite her deep awareness of the world’s environmental and social justice crises, she is filled with hope.
Hope, in this age of cynicism masquerading as science, is a scarce resource. We often treat it poorly — as if hope is the hallmark of New Age lunatics or wide-eyed children. As if it’s naïve. Passive. A longing … without any intention of rolling up its sleeves.
It’s particularly tough to be an optimistic environmentalist with such a steady accumulation of bad news: birds dropping from the sky from starvation because wetlands that served as avian drive-thrus during migration have been replaced with houses; renowned climate scientist James Hanson’s prediction of “game over” if the Tar Sands are developed; oil spills; nuclear meltdowns …
Shiva knows all this. Yet she’s hopeful.
With a world increasingly under environmental threat and corporations and lobbyists that peddle misinformation, hope isn’t a luxury. It’s all we have.
I recently had dinner with a friend who teaches environmental science at our local college. “I feel like the voice of doom,” he confided. “Everything I tell them is depressing. I just wish I could find something to give them some hope.” He asked how I keep myself hopeful in the midst of so much bad news.
I don’t watch regular TV news because I am not desensitized to the hype and hysteria of the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ mentality. However, with a new administration taking office (yay!) there seems to be an air of optimism everywhere, even in the news. I flipped on my set to watch my favorite news show: Rachel Maddow, and while channel surfing during commercials, I saw great stories about kindness and good deeds.
I often get invited to conferences and consumer shows to offer up my advice for living a greener, healthier life. After outlining all the ways we’re polluting our planet and our own bodies — along with advice on what we can do about it — I frequently end with a chirpy “thank-you for listening. Have a great day!” And I’m often met with incredulity. Finally one person asked me outright how I could remain so upbeat and energetic knowing everything I do about our planet’s peril. It’s a good question.