I have been thinking about this for a long time. Our culture has become ruled by fear. In yogic philosophy, fear is a form of avidya, clouded perception or misperception. Fear is a healthy emotion when in the context or real and present danger. Fear kicks in our fight or flight response, flooding our bodies with adrenaline and glucose. I don’t believe that the fear culture is real and present danger, rather, it is a chronic state of low grade fear.
We don’t have TV in our house or on our RV where I am presently living. When I see TV I am always struck by the level of fear, wanting without needing, and overstimulation(all forms of avidya) that is cultivated. Jack Johnson sings and I paraphrase, “don’t blame me, its the shows that he watches on TV”. I don’t blame TV for the fear, Blame is completely unproductive. I am only pointing out that there are options in what we feed to our bodies and more importantly to our brains.
I am often challenged about our choice to homeschool our kids, or my being vegan, or most recently our decision to drive to Mexico. I think long and hard about everything I do. I love that we have so many options in our culture. I don’t accept the norm as the only path. In fact, we teach our children to always question in order to decide what is right and what is wrong. I follow the same example. Did it make it right to own a slave because everyone else owned slaves? Is it right to exploit animals because most people do it? Even more importantly, the question should be what are my options? What choices are right for me and my family? Choice isn’t always about morality but it can be more about living your life with integrity and truth. Believing in your path not because everybody else does it but because you have thought it through thoroughly and with conscience.
First Chakra, Muladara Chakra or Root, is all about security. This chakra is involved in survival, food, shelter, safety from violence. Being afraid means that on some level our survival is threatened. There is safety in numbers. Following along with the proverbial herd is safe. If we are in a perpetual state of fear than it may cause us to do what everybody else does. Thinking for yourself might get you killed figuratively or possibly literally. Many people around the world have faced retribution for standing up to authority, speaking out against cruelty or injustice. It is not just safer but easier to do what everybody does. Does that make it right? I can’t answer that for anyone but myself.
Our trip to Mexico
Our decision to drive to Mexico has been met with all kinds of responses ranging from envy to fear. Some say, “Oh, I wish I could do that,” or, “That is my dream,” to “Are you crazy? Have you heard what is going on down there???”.
My answer is, You can do anything you want to do, and no we are not crazy. My husband Steven and I have a healthy sense of fear. We have done our research and talked to many people about how to cross, where to cross, when to cross, and what to do once we get into Mexico. Steven, is the most creative, nurturing, capable and incredibly talented person I have ever met. He knows how to fix almost anything and is willing to look for help when needed. I feel incredibly safe with him at the wheel(Yes, I have not been brave enough to drive this big beast. That is a whole other post! Speaking of healthy fear, but I digress) Not only do I feel safe but this trip has already been an incredible adventure. We have travelled through 13 states and are now entering another country. We have connected with old friends and met a lot of new ones along the way. I have no doubt that we will all remember this trip with incredible clarity and fondness.
What are many of us afraid of? All kinds of things like embarrassment (like everytime I start speaking in Spanish!), not being liked, looking foolish, not knowing where we are. These are all necessary risks of traveling outside of our comfort zone or just traveling in general! The risk of violence is often overblown but no less real. When I was in my 20s I was almost killed by a man that broke into my house. The threat of violence to me is very real and very present. I have spent much of my adult life fighting against being perpetually afraid. You see, it is about choice. I would not put myself or my family in harms way however, the risk of violence is ever present and the fear of it can be paralyzing. Fear can keep us from experiencing new and wonderful things. It can also prevent our children from having the experiences they need to learn and grow.
My family and I have been traveling to Mexico for 10 years. I love the country and the people. It is vast, varied, beautiful, generous, and the food is amazing. One of my best friends, Diana, grew up in Mexico City. She is one of the most amazing, generous people I know. Another friend, Stephany, is opening O2 Yoga Mexico City this January! She is another incredible person. Every year we meet lovely people and visit incredible places. The Mexican people have been battered by bigotry, prejudice, the swine flu, and drug wars. I believe they need friends more than ever. I believe, they deserve our friendship, our love , our trust and our support. Our trip into Mexico is not just about sightseeing. We are hopefully making a statement about what and who is to be feared. I want to stand in solidarity with a people who have shown us incredible kindness. Our country as a whole is giving the Mexican people a mixed message ranging from hostility to appreciation. Hopefully, my family and I and the group of lovely folks coming down to Maya Tulum for our retreat will show the side of the US that I know to be hopeful, respectful and clear of misperceptions. After all, isn’t that what yoga practice is ultimately about? Seeing clearly, connecting deeply with all living creatures, and ultimately wishing all a life of freedom and happiness. Forgive me for sounding sappy. Nearing the border is making me feel especially full of emotions. We will be crossing at 8am Central Standard Time on Friday 12/31/2010, New Year’s Eve. If you think of it, send a little love our way. Peace, Mimi