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Change Yourself Then the World

Posted Mar 03 2008 3:44pm 2 Comments

Gandhi gave us the powerful quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I've been taking that to heart quite a bit lately. I suppose you could say that I've a bit disgusted with a lot of what I see happening in the world (both my own little world and globally). Some of the things on my what the H@$$?!?! list include:

  • Putting things ahead of people
  • Multi-tasking (I'm of the humble opinion that this is an EVIL word and that using this term as a bragging/selling point -- "I'm such an excellent multi-tasker" -- should be outlawed. I think it's much more effective, efficient and rewarding to do ONE thing at a time and be present throughout the task.)
  • The insiduous and deadly advertising/marketing that pervades this society (scary to think that our beliefs/preferences/standards are created by a bunch of care-only-about-the-bottom-line executives -- if that ain't a Weapon of Mass Destruction, then I don't know what is)
  • The over-the-top use of cell phones (just this past Saturday I was at a movie and the teen sitting in front of me couldn't last 90-minutes without checking her cell phone -- you can't be out of touch for 90-minutes -- SERIOUSLY?!?!?)
  • The scary everything-is-disposable trend (and this applies to people as well -- when something breaks, we simply buy a new one rather than fixing the old. When we tire of people, we simply dispose of them. Think layoff, divorce, etc.)
  • The fact that drug companies are taking over the world and creating "conditions" so that we buy more drugs (don't even get me started on the fact that we over-medicate ourselves in this society)
  • The whole "no-time" mentality -- I don't have time for my friends, I don't have time for my spouse/partner, I don't have time for my children. (funny, I'm thinking that when you're officially "out of time" that you'll be wishing you spent more time on the things listed here. Of course we conveniently forget this fact and continue to squander our time on the unimportant things like TV.)

I could go on here but that doesn't serve anyone. What does change things is changing oneself. It is this very concept that makes my yoga practice indispensible to me. I would willingly sacrifice some things, but my yoga practice isn't one of them. Why? Because my yoga practice gives me perspective. It calms my mind and helps me to see "me" a bit clearer (without that darned ego getting in the way). Then when I approach a situation, I can ask myself what role I'm playing in it. Rather than blame others, I look at myself and think how I could alter my behavior to get a better outcome.

There's a fine line between the selfish, looking out for numero uno mentality and the I'll take care of myself first so that I'll be better able to help others mentality. Of course balance is key here. Again, for balance I look to my yoga practice.

Despite my daily yoga practice, I'm faaaar from perfect. But I try. I unroll my mat each day and I practice. I try to be a better person. I try to live by my values (buying organic, recycling, not eating meat, etc.). I try to be the kind of friend I would want to have, the kind of mate I would want to have a relationship with, the kind of worker I would want on my team, the kind of person I think would make this world a better place. I've got my good days and my bad days.

Lately, I've been seeing some bad. I've been frustrated and saddened by what I'm seeing going on around me. I've been a bit shaken lately by how little love matters anymore. Apparently, getting your head out of your own little world/drama long enough to show caring for others (people you call your friends, lovers, family) isn't on anyone's agenda anymore (or perhaps it falls behind laundry and watching that new reality show on TV). I'd be lying if I didn't say that I've been entertaining fantasies of escaping the world -- running off to an ashram in a distant land, far, far away from the "real world." Thanks to my yoga practice I have enough clarity to know that, while the idea is quite tempting, it's not the answer.

Just when I start thinking "what's the use," and "why bother," I know the answer -- I can't change the people or the world around me but I can change myself. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. I practice my yoga daily not so I can have a frustrating, sad, and disillusioned existence. I practice so that I can understand that I can be another way. I don't have to be the multi-tasker or the chronic cell phone checker or the mate who puts her own personal interests above the relationship. I can be something bigger, something better, something that perhaps inspires someone else. If one person reading this post makes a change, then I can be happy (regardless of what's going on around me).

So when the bottom drops out on me, I can remain steady knowing that change will happen (and continue to happen). And I can instigate that change.

This is why I started this yoga blog -- because I wanted to talk about an amazing vehicle for change. Yoga is BIG and it has amazing power. Of course not everyone sees it that way. And that's okay. Change can be wrought in a number of ways, and although yoga is my personal preference, it's not the only way.

This is why I've been championing Oprah's New Earth Webcast. For those of you who have studied yoga and live your yoga, Tolle's book isn't saying anything new. Still, the message rings true (and sometimes you need to hear something time and time again for it to hit home). And I laud anyone who tries to spread that message (and we all know that Oprah can spread around just about anything). I read the first few chapters of A New Earth and I got hooked at page 4. I am intrigued by his comments about ego and perception and I'm going to take tonight's Webcast and the workbook assignment that accompanies it to heart.

If you're interested in making a change, it's not too late to sign up for the Webcast and get access to the workbook, forums and daily exercises on Oprah's site.

If Oprah isn't your cup of tea, there's another interesting program going on (this one isn't free though). It's called -- rather appropriately, I might add -- the Great Shift. Shiva Rea is on the "visionary" list, so it's worth checking out. I'm currently looking through the site and so far it looks interesting.

One of my favorite, change the world one person at a time movements is A Complaint Free World. I love creator Will Bowen's message and I have my very own purple bracelet. Want to go 21 days without complaining to see how it changes your life? Check out A Complaint Free World and join the almost 5 million folks who are trying to live by my own favorite personal mantra (which has been attributed to a prayer in the Zen, Buddhist tradition): "Thank you for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever."

A change is a change -- so whether you get there through a book, yoga, whatever it doesn't matter. Just get there. It's simple really -- when you change, your world changes.


Comments (2)
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Interesting post. There's a lot to process here. I think there's so much good in the world that I just don't get all paralyzed and upset about the bad stuff that happens. I absolutely do speak up about things that bother me but I don't let those things define me or affect my well-being. Also, if you honestly believe that love doesn't matter anymore, you have not been paying enough attention. I see love everyday. I can just go to a park or the beach and see families playing with their children, everyone laughing and having a good time. Most people are doing their best. It's important to remember that.
You're right -- people are doing their best. I didn't mean that love is nonexistent -- I've just seen a lot of people putting love way down on the priority list and that makes me sad. But there's good and bad in everything. I usually see the good. I know I was a bit sad when I wrote that post so it probably came out. Thanks for the reminder.
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