A salute to serenity with black and white photos.
"The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal. The goal is serenity. Balance. Truly finding peace in your own skin." -- Rachel Brathen
From external forces to internal battles, we are all mindful warriors.
On the anniversary of 9/11, I woke up thinking about commitment and resilience. And peace. Oh, and of course, a series of abstract yoga photos I'd created.
So why an abstract yoga art?
Yoga is a perfect example of the qualities of commitment and resilience. The first time I tried to get my body into a yoga pose, I thought I'd end up in a position impossible to extract myself out of. Like a human gold jewelry chain that was knotted beyond anything a jeweler could fix. I imagined how they'd need to call 911 and ask them to bring the jaws of life to extract me from whatever twisted thing I collapsed into.
But I kept at it, and over time, I came to the poses in my own way. It does require commitment. And holding that pose requires resiliency. I hear lots of judgements and limiting thoughts arise in my head as I practice. Wait, maybe those were my left hip flexors screaming.
But my discomfort is overshadowed by what this big event on 9/11 put into motion. We lost so many during-- and as a result of--9/11.
But we also are in the midst of those left with the role of living.
I’m humbled thinking of how many people live with its effects so long after 2001. Spared but forever changed. I honor them with their commitment to move forward no matter the hurt or struggle. And for their resilience in not letting the shadowy side of things taint them.
What a good reminder to the rest of us. External forces are always present. The key is in how you internalize them.
Even the serenity of a yoga class has external forces. Maybe a loud horn blasted outside the studio. Now you are thinking of rush hour. Or you stretch your right arm out in a pose as you've been instructed, but you accidentally touch your yoga neighbor. Then you lay there, thinking, "Oh no, they know I'm bad at this. I bet he is going to make sure he doesn't put his mat down next to mine next time. If there's a next time. He's probably laughing inside at how stupid I look."
Just like the armed soldiers in these abstract photos, the external stimuli keeps coming. And to that end, I created this series to show the battle: the internal struggle we must commit to quieting. We may not have been in the towers or on the battlefield, we may not have been a relative or friend to those that were involved, but we are all on the line everyday with thoughts popping out of nowhere. And too many of them would like to aim and fire.
In yoga practice, at first I worked hard to empty those racing thoughts from my head. They just never completely disappeared. But the more I continued, I realized that if I breathe deeply, and observe, I relax into allowing them to float like clouds. I remind myself, thoughts are just thoughts. They are just part of the weather for today.
In honor of commitment and resilience, I'd like to partner with you to help our warriors through this yoga art.
If one of these black and white photo abstracts in the series "External Forces" would work in your home or office, I will make a contribution of 15% of my profit to a special nonprofit. And I'm not making this an offer just for the day. It stands everyday. Because our warriors are always there for us.
These contributions will be donated to Warriors At Ease. I appreciate their commitment to bringing peace to those that kept--and keep--us safe. Warriors at Ease is dedicated to ensuring every member of the military community is trained in how to use the practices of yoga and meditation to alleviate the stressors of military life and aid in the prevention and rehabilitation of physical and invisible injuries.
Peace is invisible. And powerful. And a practice we must work on everyday--whether we are a soldier, a survivor, or just a normal human trying to get through that nervousness of our first yoga class.