Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up, when you go out and when you return. In times of mourning and in times of joy. Inscribe them on your doorposts, embroider them on your garments, tattoo them on your shoulders teach them to your children, your neighbors, your enemies, recite them in your sleep, here in the cruel shadow of empire: ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE. – Deut. 6:5 & the poem V’ahavta by Aurora Levins Morales (click on that link to read the whole poem. PLEASE. It is powerful.)
The shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh yesterday has me muttering v’ahavta over and over and over. V’ahavta is Hebrew for “you shall love” & it is the commandment to love with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might. This text above from the book of Deuteronomy, quoted in a powerful poem of Aurora Levins Morales, is the backdrop of my mind today. I’m repeating v’ahavta over and over and over as a prayer & mantra not so that God pays attention or to ask God to do something, but so that I KEEP PAYING ATTENTION. I keep praying this so that I stay present and drawing all my heart, soul, and might towards words, acts, and thoughts of LOVE.
This is all I have. This is all we are asked to do.
Teach LOVE to our children, our neighbors, and our enemies. Inscribe LOVE on the doors, walls and gates of our home. Wear LOVE on our sleeves, embody LOVE in our eyes, mouth, and in our hands. You shall LOVE. You shall LOVE. You shall LOVE.
We can’t claim that we don’t know what to do. It is not complicated. You shall LOVE. What are we pretending to not know? You shall LOVE. Stop your claim that you can’t or don’t make a difference. Stop. You have been told. V’ahavta; you shall LOVE with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. That’s it.
Over the last couple months I have been talking about embodying the sensation of compassion, as a practice. I need this practice more than ever. I need to ground myself in the practice of V’AHAVTA so that it is what I live out, it is my default, my first response. And this call to LOVE with all my heart, soul, and might will look and feel differently depending on the moment. But, it need not be so complicated. You shall love. That’s it. Over and over again. When you lie down and when you wake up. When you go out and when you return. In times of mourning and in times of joy. You shall LOVE. You shall LOVE. You shall LOVE.
The Meditation Mantra of the Month for November will be Santosha; contentment/acceptance/fruit of practice. Did you see that? Contentment, acceptance & fruit of practice – it’s all one word. Santosha. Yoga means to be connected in mind+body+spirit. So, if your yoga practice can only happen on a yoga mat with tight pants on, it is too small. During the month of November I invite you to deepen and expand your yoga practice. Choose a practice, like embodying compassion, and do it every day. Not in order to fix something, attain a goal, or even find an answer. Practice in order to practice. Because practice in and of itself is the goal, the end point, and the detour along the way.
If this is a new idea of having a “daily practice” I’m going to help. I have recorded a 10 minute Chairish (there is some standing, but it can also be adapted) practice that has the opening & closing Grateful Despites Meditation that I do in all my classes. In the middle are 5 gentle poses, The 5 Chambanas as I call them, that will draw your scattered and distracted mind back to your breath, your body, and the present moment so you can re-member yourself. It’s just 10 minutes. Some of you might think this isn’t nearly enough. So, do more. Some of you might think that it isn’t enough because it doesn’t require a yoga mat. So, get down on a mat. Do what you need to do to make the practice happen for you every day. Deepen your practice. Make your yoga practice bigger than your ego or your expectations of yourself.
During the month of November, The 5 Chambanas audio file will be for sale for $15 on my site. $10 of every audio file purchased will be given to the 7 Partner Congregations of Daily Bread Yoga, to support their social outreach in our community, as they humbly live out the commandment to LOVE. They do so much more than you might imagine. I will be telling you about some of the great work they do during the month of November!
I hope you will join me in the practice.
Peace on your head, you.