Power makes a terrible gift

Recently I was part of an online chat with other yoga practitioners. The topic of “owning your power” came up. I think there’s a lot of confusion in the world right now about what it means to “own your power”, but the sentiment seems to be something like: “Stand for what you believe in, speak up, choose your direction in life, and don’t let others decide your path for you.”

Pretty much every time this topic comes up, I see a very specific puzzle appear. Here’s a paraphrase of one person’s struggle with it:

I want to own my power. But there’s someone in my life whom I care about and who’s stuck in their ways. I’m scared they’ll get hurt if I stand my ground and speak my truth. What do I do?

Another version I often hear goes something like:

I find myself going along with things my husband insists on, just because it’s easier than arguing with him. I’m scared that we’ll just fight more if I own my power and push back. I love him and I want our relationship to be strong, but I hate myself for crushing my own voice.

Yet another that I’ve heard from more than one teenager:

My mom drives me nuts. I want to move out. But if I do, I think it would really hurt her. I’m worried she’ll get depressed and maybe even do something drastic to herself if I leave. I don’t know what to do.

The struggle is something like, “How can I be empowered when that might hurt people or relationships I care about?”

I think there’s a clear answer now. It just isn’t very widespread yet. That’s in part because there isn’t a lot of clarity about what “owning your power” means. So attempts to share the answer often sound strange or callous or impractical.

But I think the answer is immensely practical, deeply compassionate, and very, very needed today.

I’d like to try my hand at sharing it here.

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The Coming Age of Prayer

I want to talk here about humanity’s future — about the “Age of Aquarius” or the “Global Awakening” or the “Singularity” or however a given person wants to name it.

I’m going to use the framework of chakras to do it. I like the framework. I’ve been using it for something like 25 years, and I really enjoy how the modern yoga community has embraced it.

But I think there’s a recurring confusion about the fifth and sixth chakras. It’s a necessary confusion, all part of the process. And, I think we’ve reached a point where we can shine some light on what’s going on.

To talk about this, I’m going to assume you know basically what chakras are. You might be able to get the gist of it by reading this post anyway. But if you find you’d like more background, maybe start with this blog post. (I really appreciate Brett’s orientation to chakras, and really her whole spirit around yoga. For what that’s worth!)

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Why “yin”?

People keep asking me what “yin” is, as I use it. And why I think it’s important.

The really short and maybe unsatisfying answer is “Read this.” I think of yin as more like bicycle-riding than like understanding facts or theories. If I were to describe good bike-riding, I might do best by pointing at people who are trying to ride bikes and saying “That person is doing well because of X, and that other person is doing poorly because of not-X, I think.” That’s what I tried to do with my post on grieving well.

But people who have read that post still ask me about this, which makes sense. A lot of the main ideas of yin are buried or implied in that post rather than stated directly.

So, I’ll try to be pretty direct here, to the extent that I can.

(Trigger warning: references to death, child mortality, and losing faith in religion. Nothing gruesome — but if it doesn’t pull your heartstrings then I haven’t done my job. And some of the things I link to might be harsher.)

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The art of grieving well

In this post, I’m going to talk about grief. And sorrow. And the pain of loss.

I imagine this won’t be easy for you, my dear reader. And I wish I could say that I’m sorry for that.

…but I’m not.

I think there’s a skill to seeing horror clearly. And I think we need to learn how to see horror clearly if we want to end it.

This means that in order to point at the skill, I need to also point at real horror, to show how it works.

So, I’m not sorry that I will make you uncomfortable if I succeed at conveying my thoughts here. I imagine I have to.

Instead, I’m sorry that we live in a universe where this is necessary.

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