I am stoked to have Dia Penning has a guest blogger here. She will be joining LLY for another edition of Yin and Justice in Vancouver, a 30 Hour Yin Teacher Training. More info here. You can also have a listen to your podcast interview here, Dia and I were interviewed by Jesi Carson during our training in Jamaica. Music by the talented singer and yin yoga student, Aljah Mystic
Habits and Change by Dia Penning.
My work in social justice and yoga has dovetailed a number of occasions over the last 5 years. More often, I find myself in spaces where we talk about spirit and demonstrate our long held physical tensions as parallels for the tensions in the world. How can one do effective public work if their internal landscape is a mess?
Justice is not, strictly, an external concept. As we continue to examine normalized violence and our collective capacity for self-harm and dishonesty, the sickness in our world becomes much more sharp.
What could happen if we stopped lying and saw the world as a collective representation of history and policy that places profit over human dignity?
What would happen if we individually and collectively made choices that supported, embraced, or encouraged growth instead of minimizing, silencing, and erasing?
How much more responsibility would each of us have to take?
For me, the meeting of justice and yin yoga are natural. One asks questions of a cultural and society, the other asks questions of a spirit and a body. We move into areas of discomfort rather than avoiding or working around them. We ask the hard questions, sit with the things we would rather avoid and investigate what might be on the other side.
For years, I searched for the thing that would fill me –a number of high profile jobs, repeatedly a gained and lost 40lbs, I moved across country and back, drank too much. I did all the things one does when trying to work around discomfort. Prolonged attention is what gave rise to a feeling of security inside of me, prolonged attention and importantly attention to my discomfort.
We avoid the spaces that cause the most distress—fear of being wrong, personal ignorance, lack of historical context, difference of life experience—we cling to the things that make us feel confortable, even if it is making our communities more unbearable. Change on any level requires commitment and attention. It requires vigilance, honesty and being able to laugh at ones self.
When we are less self-absorbed, we are much more able to be present in our own lives, show up for those that need it and attend to the things that need attending to. When we are able to meet our minds or our world where it is at, we have a greater capacity for making change.
Practice is practice is practice, whether you are seeking to do a handstand in the middle of a room, open up years of tension in your hips, or develop new pathways for inclusion and understanding, the process is practice. We develop a muscle for change by working it.
If you commit to the process, you find the way to make that change, albeit slowly and with discomfort. I challenge anyone who has considered that the world might be more holistic and inclusive to examine their behavior off the mat and see what habits might be keeping them back.
Dia Penning is co-teacher for Love Light Yoga’s Yoga and Social Justice Curriculum. She is founder of The Equity Collective, a social justice experiment in radical honesty and inclusion, and has written three volumes of curriculum for World Trust Educational Services.
Dia lives in Oakland California with her wife, son, mother, dog, cat and invisible pony, Sparkle.