True Power

Fall foliage across from the Freedom Tower, 10/20/16.

Fall foliage across from the Freedom Tower, 10/20/16.

October 24, 2016

Yoga Friends,

Back around 2008, I got to hear the most venerable Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Master Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, speak in person. I recall him having a quiet, soft voice, but yet oh, how powerful his presence was. That night after his talk, my friend Jo-Anne, purchased an autographed copy of his book The Art of Power for me. I devoured it at the time.

Recently, this passage from the book has been resonating with me:

... Our society is founded on a very limited definition of power, namely wealth, professional success, fame, physical strength, military might, and political control. My dear friends, I suggest that there is another kind of power, a greater power: the power to be happy in the present moment, free from addiction, fear, despair, discrimination, anger, and ignorance. This power is the birthright of every human being, whether celebrated or unknown, rich or poor, strong or weak. 

Many come to yoga practice primarily to develop physical power through increasing strength and flexibility. Recently, I was teaching a health club yoga class and a student came to me prior to the start asking if this was going to be a Power Yoga class. Upon assuring her that it was, she said "good, because I need to work on my power." Inwardly I knew that was a code for "I need you to make it challenging and super tough because I need to build a lot of strength." So she situated herself in the front of the class, did a lot of vinyasas with hand-stand option and moved very quickly, and left before doing savasana. I knew she was totally missing the point of what yoga is supposed to be all about. And, I knew, as a long time teacher now, to just teach to people where they are currently at in their understanding.

The promise of yoga is truly something much, much bigger than just getting a good, hard workout. The practice has the potential to help us develop an inner joy so strong that it can withstand the torrent of stresses we encounter, especially here in New York City.

There are people who have attained much wealth and high positions who are ostensibly powerful but yet are miserable, and there are poor people who living in constant and abiding joy. 

May you remember your true inner powers, ... for the benefit of all beings

aloha, with metta,