Which area do you require more practice in:
A) Working hard and striving to accomplish more?
B) Resting and graciously appreciating what you have already achieved?
Do you find yourself:
A) Disappointed with your accomplishments?
B) Acknowledging that your current position is exactly where you should be?
A) Influenced by the actions of those around you, even if they aren't suitable for your current circumstances?
B) Capable of attentively listening to your body and heart, and following their guidance?
If your responses leaned towards A for those questions, welcome to the club! Our society is really good at promoting perpetual improvement and conformity (keeping up with the Joneses, as the saying goes). Current western yoga culture seems to advocate the same "strive for more, improve constantly" message to enthusiastic yoga practitioners. Yoga challenges, flow videos, and boasting about yoga achievements inundate social media and mainstream advertising. As yoga has transformed into an industry, it has drifted away from an essential aspect of the practice: providing a framework that encourages us to approach life differently and to seek opportunities to serve consciousness.
Lately, my teacher has been discussing the cultivation of a non-acquisitional mind. This aligns with the concept of non-attachment, a fundamental principle to incorporate into our practice. Non-attachment and a non-aquisitional mindset are what will lead us towards moksha, or liberation from suffering. Striving to work harder, accumulate more possessions, or do more sun salutations and handstands, will not.
When I hear a yoga teacher urging me to push harder, do more, go further, I can't help but wonder why I needed to pay someone to tell me to do the things my neuroses are already pushing me to do at no charge!
Consider why you chose to practice yoga. If it is to practice a different way of being, because how you approach things is not giving you what you want, consider not doing your yoga practice the way you do the rest of your life. If you are looking to find a different approach, practice that new approach while you practice your asana, your meditation and your self study.
It's easy to overlook the tendency to carry habits of "do more, work harder, get more" into your yoga practice. If you suspect you're doing so, slow down, examine how you're engaging with your practice, and dare to approach it differently. After all, the risk is minimal, and the rewards are significant!
Valentine's Day is just around the corner, which is a day we spend opening our hearts to our loved ones. Are you ready this year to open your heart to yourself?
You've all probably heard the expression about putting on your oxygen mask first so that you can help others more effectively during an emergency. Consider the wisdom of that instruction. And then consider the wisdom of opening to your own heart before you can effectively open to others.
One of the reasons that we tend not to want to go into the spaces of the heart is because we think there is pain and grief in the heart. But this is simply not true. All of that stuff is actually in your mind. The heart is a vast open space where there's no differentiation. Pain arises from differentiation—when we don't have what we want, or we have what we don't want. That polarity causes us pain. If there is no polarity, there is no pain and suffering. I would like to suggest that we suffer more when we are just hanging around the outer surface of the heart, not willing to jump in because our mind tells us there is sadness, grief, and pain. The closer we get to the rim, the louder our minds get. When we are willing to go into battle with these projections of the mind, look them straight in the eye and see that they are just paper tigers placed around the heart as "protectors," we will be able to fall into the vast space of the heart and be free of those projections. When you have done this, authentically, a few times (we have all done this “falling in” many times already—perhaps without acknowledgment and understanding of where we have been, but yes, you have been there!) and you see the beauty that is here, you see the unification that is here, you see really that everything is here, you won't need to give somebody a piece of candy to convince them that you see them and you appreciate and love them.
Don't get me wrong, candy is nice, and I am certainly taking donations! But just consider the everlasting gift of opening to your heart space to yourself first, stepping in, and then just leaving the door open so others can come along with you.
Nobody's going to follow you if you aren’t willing to go there yourself.
How to disrupt your schedule:
I was surprised to find how hard it was to stay with my practice with all of the distractions this year (once again!). I did start to get a bit nervous after listening to a podcast where a man described his three-month retreat and the challenge he faced staying with his practice when he returned to society. Even after three months of nonstop introspection and gaining amazing insights, his most valuable insight turned out to be how the distractions of the world are strong and will pull you away from what your practice has shown you.
It turns out that the timing of my falling into the end-of-year, and-oh-now-I-have-covid ditch was perfect, of course. My two physical injuries last year really taught me about chronic pain and restricted range of motion, something I spoke about often but had never lived. (Thanks a lot 2023!) I imagine I will be a better therapist and teacher now that I am living with those things. And now having fallen into a practice-challenging ditch? Well, let's see how it plays out.
One thing that I have always pointed to is my “good karma" for practicing. I have managed to keep on the road of spiritual practice for 30 years – no matter what. But last week I understood how people can walk away. “I will never be able to stick with it after all, It’s easier this way. Once you stop it’s too hard to start again. Etc”
Fortunately, in spite of enjoying my new found lethargy, my “good” karma kicked in again, and I am able to tell you that you CAN get back into it. Yes, it is easier to not sit for meditation and do nothing, but don’t trust it. That “easier” is only temporary – like it was easier for me not to do any physical exercise last week and just lay around watching reruns of Columbo. But boy, did my back hurt! Every morning I had to sit with a heating pad. I was stiff. I was walking like a very, very, old person who just sits around and watches reruns of old shows – and I was cranky because of it. And then reality hit after teaching two classes Sunday morning? Oy! At 57, things can go south really quickly after a week.
I meet so many people at Eco Loka who tell me all the (very good) reasons they had to leave their yoga practice, and I can see there is a good deal of trepidation about starting up again. It makes sense, right? It is hard not to grieve all the things you used to be able to do, who you did them with and how good you looked – and felt – doing them. But knowing that your yoga practice brings you joy and equanimity, contentment, good health and positivity, are you willing to forgo the comparison to what it once was so you can get back to a practice?
Ok, so you fell off. But now it’s time to get back and reconnect, whether it is your physical practice or your meditation practice, even just reading and self- inquiry! The important part is to just start!
Don’t fret about where you have been and what you can no longer do. And certainly, don’t let those feelings stop you from picking up where you left off (or even starting a few steps back.) Your future practice does not care. It will always open its arms to you and embrace you where you are.
Let me help you rekindle your spiritual goals, address your physical needs and explore whatever it is you're most curious about.
See the workshops listed here, and maybe consider the Spiritual Mentoring program. You get one-on-one guidance for you spiritual enhancement. More info below.
My message for these first days of 2024 is – wait for it, wait for it – Keep On Keeping On!
As some of you know, I endured a pair of impact injuries during 2023 (broken wrist July, bruised knee September) and my body’s response led to some medical research and a bit of personal introspection as well.
First, an update on my wrist: It is feeling good, but I still don’t have full range of motion, and it’s pretty weak compared to my left… which happens to be my nondominant side.
As I’ve shared in my fascia workshop, when an area of the body is immobilized (as when in a cast to help heal a broken bone), the fascia begins to tighten into a kind of internal cast as well. This internal cast tends to persist after the external cast is taken off, and restoring the fascia’s natural flexibility can take as much as two or three times as long as you were in the external cast.
A study I found in the National Library of Medicine reported that restoring range of motion after two weeks of immobility can take a bit of work but doing so after four weeks becomes more challenging. It turns out that not only does the fascia stiffen into that internal cast, but the chemical makeup of muscles that help the joints move also change to limit motion. That’s probably intended to protect the break as it heals. But it just becomes another factor impeding a swift return to full range of motion.
The same study reported that joints that were regularly exercised prior to being immobilized were quicker to regain their range of motion than joints that hadn’t been exercised regularly prior to the injury. Umm. Think couch potato joints.
But wait, there’s more. At my annual physical my doctor mentioned that the immobilization of a joint also contributes to bone loss. Ugh. That had me looking up something the medical community terms Disuse Osteoporosis. Sure enough, it turns out that when a joint is immobilized, bone density begins to decline – and almost immediately! The good news is, the same phenomenon provides a pathway to repair: “Indeed,” claimed the researchers, “the most natural treatment for disuse osteoporosis is physical exercise or remobilization (loading) of the affected bones…”
All this research supports something most of us learn as we age: Just a little time away from your practice makes a big difference. That’s become abundantly clear to me as I sprint toward my 60s. And if I didn’t already know it, the recent injury to my left knee helped remind me. Believe me, it didn’t take long before I could really feel a difference in strength between my left and right leg. Bad enough, but add in a bout of Covid (relatively mild, but still set me back), and I can really feel the effect of being a couch potato.
Here’s the thing. We are all going to get injured, and while the inclination is to bring your practice to a halt while you heal, it turns out that’s probably the wrong response. Most injuries should not keep you from your practice because when they do, your whole body will suffer – and it may not actually help your injury heal any faster.
With patience, intelligence, and a little bit of professional guidance (that’s my role!), you can maintain a practice that will serve you well, even if it’s not what you “usually do.”
Keeping my doctor’s caveats in mind, I maintained as much of my regular practice as I could when my cast was on, relying on my one good wrist, trying to keep my shoulder mobile, my upper arm muscles strong and my fingers moving. I’m using a similar approach to my current knee injury. Once I figured out the movements that were not possible for me right now (flexion and external hip rotation, for example), I modified or found alternatives for those movements. I am keeping my glutes, quads and lower leg muscles strong, and I maintain external hip rotation in a way that does not compromise my knee.
Nothing’s perfect. I will admit my “flow” has gotten a bit awkward, and the yoga class I took up in the Berkshires last week challenged me right out of the gate (“Let’s all come into child’s pose”- noooooo!). During COVID I practiced the Joint Freeing Series and TRE (both felt awesome! A little bit of movement in a very lethargic state goes a heck of a long way.)
So, my message for 2024? Don’t let an injury bring your practice to a standstill. It may be challenging and frustrating, but don’t stop, because it won’t get any easier if you do. (It may get harder! – see above.) And if you did stop, it’s ok, just know that it’s time to start up again. Whatever range of motion, suppleness and bone density you recapture is going to serve you. The instructors at Yoga Loka are here to help you find the right substitute pose for whatever the limitation. For every pose you can’t do, there are probably 10 or more that can take its place. Just ask. That’s what we’re here for.
We all have important work to do in this world. You may already be doing it, you may not yet know what it is, but know for sure you have something etched into your karmic stream that is needing to be fulfilled. We all have something we are here to do. And to do it we need a healthy, mobile body, a clear mind, and a contented soul. We are not here to satisfy our monkey minds, especially when it says “Nah, never mind, I’ll just sit here in the dark.”
If your New Year’s resolution is to do more yoga for your body and your mind, please take advantage of this month’s sale on class blocks and workshops to get you going. That’s what they’re there for, literally.
Click here to go to the workshop page:
Use discount code 2024workshops for a 10% discount when checking out
It’s hard to say how much historical truth of the first Thanksgiving remains in our 21st Century holiday. One thing is clear: myth, the passage of time, and rampant consumerism have expanded the meaning of the holiday way beyond simple gratitude for a plentiful harvest.
Of course, we still gather together, eat a lot of food, and think about the things we are grateful for. There’s a certain logic in our celebrating gratitude at harvest time. In the old days we might be celebrating that we were going to have enough food to last the winter. However, even in this land of plenty too many go hungry, and not just during a harsh winter. And most of us who gratefully do not to have to choose between food and heat, can and should recognize and acknowledge our good fortune. The ritual of expressing gratitude at Thanksgiving time helps us remember that others aren’t as fortunate. Indeed, if the pandemic taught us anything, it taught us that too many of us live frightening close to the economic edge, where want and need define existence.
I am a big fan of rituals. I know them to be an important way to connect with our ancestors and family or societal history and it helps to create a rhythm to the year that centers and grounds us. Like everything else, rituals should evolve with the times. Few of us are directly connected to the earth in the ways our ancestors were, or actually raise our own food anymore.
Perhaps it’s time to see Thanksgiving as an opportunity to celebrate those who do, the farmers and migrant farm workers who do that work for us, here and abroad. The cargo ship captains and crews and stevedores who bring it from halfway around the world to American ports. Truckers who haul it from one edge of the continent to the other. Even the Amazon drivers who race from one address to another to deliver our smallest desires to our doorstep. It doesn’t take much to demonstrate that gratitude – a heartfelt Thank You to the driver or to the supermarket checkout clerk (if you still use their lanes) can be surprisingly meaningful.
Thanksgiving rituals can even expand to include our growing awareness that we’ve collectively put the planet in danger and encourage us to give thanks to the Earth itself for providing the food that sustains us. One way to demonstrate that gratitude is to use the holiday as an opportunity to consider what can be done to reduce our own individual impact on the environment. Consider the irony that what we choose to celebrate the earth and show gratitude for its abundance is most likely harming it. If you are able to, buy a turkey raised without antibiotics on a local farm that may treat the Earth more respectfully than do factory turkey farms. Consider serving more locally grown vegetables and grains. Reduce your use of plastics and household goods that contain harmful chemicals. It’s not easy to do, but it’s not that hard either. It just takes a decision to be mindful – and grateful – year-round.
This past week I was in a silent retreat. I spent 7 days moving between my bedroom, my kitchen, my living room and some hiking trails. It wasn't actually completely silent, I did a lot of talking to my dog. He was the only family member allowed to stay in the house. I had about four or five sessions with my teacher on zoom and the support of other sangha members who were also on retreat. It took a lot of maneuvering to be able to carve out the time, but it was well worth it. I am sending huge waves of gratitude to my family and the people who held down the fort at The yoga studio and the store. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
There were a number of takeaways from this experience. The simplest ones I can explain in a few words are as follows:
Things are not always as they seem,
Our internal satisfaction will not be gained by anything external,
These are all things that we might have said before to ourselves because we know they seem right. However to experience them is quite another thing. Just like looking at pictures of a beautiful meal in a cookbook is not the same as actually eating it.
Preparing for the retreat involved arranging schedules for the family, making sure I have the right food and practice documents at hand and tying up a ton of loose ends. For me, those kinds of technical things are easy to attend to because I'm always doing that type of stuff anyway. The more difficult part for me was staying off of devices, maintaining radio silence, not eating what I wanted (no coffee!!), abstaining from productivity, and resisting the urge to engage in casual conversations with friends...that is where the harder work was.
Even with those difficulties it was quite wonderful. In fact those things only were disturbing for the first few days. The initial restlessness soon faded away. Eating simple meals repetitively, wearing simple clothing, and engaging in repetitive practices and mantras created a calming rhythm that allowed me to detach from my usual mental clutter. Of course, some mental noise persisted, including stubborn earworms and bouts of dread when I contemplated my overflowing email inbox.
Nevertheless, the moments of deep internal connection and satisfaction made the challenges worthwhile. A week free from a schedule, unplugged from electronic devices, and no food planning or preparing was amazing. I can't think when else I might have encountered this freedom other than when I might have been sick in bed.
If you think this is something you want to experience, you are correct! But don't rush into it. It takes a bit of training and planning. I've done full and half days of silence every now and then for a few years and I've been in or led a number of retreats with a group, so I have had a little practice. I also had the support of my teacher and my community, which is really quite important. If you plan to do a home retreat see if you can get a friend who will do it with you. They don't have to be physically in the same space as you are. Have a clear intention for your retreat but maintain no expectations, and make sure you have a good plan for sustenance. You won't want to have to run to the store or order takeout during your retreat. Keep your food choices simple, both in taste and preparation.
Start slow and cut yourself a lot of slack! The first time I did 4 hours on my own at home was really difficult and uncomfortable, and it kind of made me feel like I failed at something big. This isn't the mindset that inspires another attempt. Having previously established some fundamentals of a meditation practice is also a good idea.
If you decide to try this, let me know how it goes! I'm planning a retreat for anyone interested in the new year, and the support of a group can make the experience more accessible, especially for first-timers. Stay tuned for details.
There are a lot of things in our bodies that happen on their own. Our food is digested, our blood is cleaned, our heart beats. Our blood is oxygenated, wastes are eliminated. Here's one thing that does not naturally occur in our bodies, especially as we age: range of motion does not increase. In fact, range of motion decreases on its own as we age, all by itself! It's not only programmed into the aging process, but technology is also helping facilitate this loss as well. Backup cameras in our cars mean we don't have to turn our neck to get out of a parking spot, so we don't. Your cute little baby pinky fingers that used to be necessary to hit 'A' and ';' while typing now just hang out doing nothing as we use our phones with either speech recognition, swipe, or type with our thumbs. Remote and voice controls now mean we can do everything from turning on the TV and lights to starting our washer, dryer, and dishwashers without ever standing up. You can check the contents of your refrigerator with an app and order what is missing from another app and perhaps even have it delivered without having to walk from your parked car to the store.
I consider it a blessing to have broken my wrist on my dominant side. Now that I am out of a cast, daily tasks are basically therapy. I turn a doorknob, chop an onion, pick up heavy things all with my right hand. That is the hand that instinctively wants to do all the stuff because it is my dominant hand. I doubt I would have gotten back as much range of motion so quickly if the injury occurred on my left side, which would, post-cast, just basically hang out watching while my right side does all the work.
One of the reasons we do so many complicated transitions in vinyasa flow classes and experiment with new ways of entering or exiting a pose is so we move in ways we don't usually move. Flowing along will hopefully reveal a range of motion that is limited in your body. If we don't uncover these places that are limited, we, of course, cannot address them. Our decreased range of motion in one place might start to grow and spread out. Fascia starts to stiffen, muscles start to atrophy, and then the fascia and muscles next door think, 'that's a great idea; I'll take a vacation too.' We also start to compensate, straining other functions. The next thing we know, a healed broken wrist might result in limited range of motion in our fingers and elbows, and perhaps even shoulders and hips.
As part of my morning meditation I do a complicated set of little-known mudras. I was pleased that I was able to do most of them with my cast on, but two of them were understandably quite difficult. I figured that would ease up once the cast was off, but lo and behold, the mudras are now more difficult! The restriction mostly has to do with the way my right middle finger reaches for my left little finger, and my ring finger has to stay up. It's definitely a bizarre move and not one that is replicated in the movements of my life, other than this mudra. The restriction of these fingers led me to realize that I can barely lift it compared to how high I can lift my left ring finger with all the other fingers staying still and flat on a table. Now maybe that seems unimportant on first glance, but consider how that immobility can spread. By the time it comes for me to actually be able to take piano lessons, a lifelong dream, will that stiffness have spread to my other fingers? Most likely, I have already started to compensate for this lack of strength and movement in my right ring finger, but now that it has been revealed to me through this fancy mudra, I'm on it! Finger exercises are now part of my routine.
The point is we may not recognize how a range of motion is naturally decreasing if we don't stay in the game of moving and being willing to move in strange new ways and examine how we are compensating. This is being beautifully revealed in our Joint Freeing Series immersion that began a few weeks ago. People are finding out what their bodies can't do, especially one side compared to the other. As a yoga therapist and teacher, seeing people uncover these weaknesses is far more gratifying than seeing people who can easily perform complicated moves or 'advanced' asanas.
For those of you who might be curious how your body is not moving, give the JFS a try. It is like a microscope, when done correctly and with awareness, that shows you so many wonderful and interesting things. When you find the things you cannot do, it is time to celebrate! You are on your way to unraveling something big.
Today, I accomplished my first significant athletic endeavor since I broke my wrist – I went on a bike ride! I wore my brace since it was considered a "high-risk" activity. It felt incredible to be on the move again. I did notice that I couldn't shift with my right hand, but the hills weren't too challenging, so I managed quite well.
This phase of recovery reminds me of the first trimester of pregnancy. It's a period characterized by no outward signs of difficulty (no visible baby bump or arm cast), yet the internal struggles are very real. Just as the first trimester can be the most demanding for some, I've found this stage of healing to be more painful than any other phase of my injury. The reason is straightforward – I'm doing more now, which is fantastic (yay!), but it also means experiencing more discomfort (boo).
What's intriguing about this recovery process is how it aligns with my five years of research and experimentation with fascia. Here's a partial checklist of my observations:
We had an amazing retreat last week up in the Berkshires. The weather was typical Massachusetts early spring weather- soggy and chilly. We still had a lot of time outside for walks and some palm tree vinyasas in the morning, and a walk in the afternoon. We had three sittings for meditation, three movement sessions and of course three meals for three-ish days, all in functional silence. It is very difficult to explain what happens in a group when they agree to live together for a time in silence- not surprisingly, it is difficult to use words to describe the experience. One participant shared a poem by Naruda with the group which we agreed summed up our experience. You can click the link below to read it.
You will see a picture of our phone tray below. Our phones sat there for 2 1/2 days, huddled together, unused and unnoticed, and for some, uncharged. (A few phones are missing from the picture because we needed them to take the picture). You will also see a very full compost bucket, another source of joy that came out of the retreat. We cooked three plant-based meals together each day and the compost that ended up in one person's garden was an unexpected source of satisfaction. And the teamwork in the kitchen, in silence again, ended up being a beautiful dance of knives, towels, juicers, pots and pans, and crisp fresh produce.
This was a time of timelessness where our minds and bodies recalibrated to a deeper place of rhythm- far more profound and perhaps accurate than the clocks, watches and phones that usually run our days. We all took souvenirs home, some were in form (rocks, stones, leaves) but most were not. The times we connected deeply with ourselves, the times in meditation that our minds bumped up against quiet, the times that we felt we were one organism moving together rather than 9 separate people performing a task, these are the things that we took home to remember our time together.
There was a lot of maneuvering for most to be able to attend and make their lives work for this time away. The good news is we can always replicate parts of the retreat at home. For instance, in the Miracle of Mindfulness (this month's book club book this Thursday night) Thicht Nacht Hahn suggests that we all find a day to be in mindfulness per week, which means you will be mostly in silence. My teacher has been encouraging the same for some time, and if a full day is not possible, the suggestion is to at least find 4 hours per week where we put down the devices and mind-stimulants and see what is below that fuzz. Practicing this for a while I will say it takes at least a day to detox! But 4 hours is a good start.
Interested in trying? I would be interested in hearing how it goes! It is challenging, and one suggestion is to find a buddy who will be doing the same. Not necessarily on the same day, but someone that you will check in with and let them know you attempted your mini-retreat. Reach out to a friend and see if they are interested in supporting you. Another suggestion is to sign up for Spiritual Mentoring and then your check in is with me. We can also speak of the experience and work to integrate whatever comes up.
Even if you can't find a full 4 hours, try some amount of withdrawal- whether you put down devices and TV 2-3 hours before bed, or you forego checking your phone until a certain time in the morning. Start slow if needed. If nothing else, you can come to a yoga class and know you will be in a mini-retreat for at least 1 1/2 hours!
The NY Times ran an article on the 17th about refill shops. (Thank you to all the people who sent it to me. I in fact did not see it on Sunday so I appreciate the heads up!) The last paragraph of the article reminded me that I intended to write about convenience in a newsletter months ago, and this statement rekindled that desire. Here is the statement in case you can't access the article:
“It’s incredible that we, as a society, feel entitled to create garbage that will last forever for something we’re going to use for 90 minutes in aggregate. That is an insane paradigm.”
I am sure we can all agree that using something that is disposible after one or two uses is one of the ways our lives have become more convenient.
My teacher recently challenged us to investigate what we lose for the sake of convenience. Naturally I have been thinking about this, and found that a second part to that question- How do I resort to entitlement and privilege to make things more convenient? If we agree that convience costs us something, does it makes sense if we add entitlement to it, the payment will be higher?
I want to come clean by admitting that I bank at "America's most convenient bank" (as their tag line goes). I can't say for sure its more convinent for all people, but it is right downtown, and that makes it easy for me. I just checked and saw that TD Bank does not win any awards for investing in ethical businesses. They do not make any of the top 15 lists of eithical banks. I recall a friend withdrawing all of her money out of TD bank a while ago for this reason. While I thought that was very courageous of her, I was not willing to go through the effort of following her lead. I figured that since she was wealthy and didn't work she had the time to do this, and so her privilege allowed her the freedom to make an ethical choice. But it was also my privilege that allowed me to not change since I did not feel directly impacted by the investments the bank makes. Actually my privilege allowed me to not even know how TD invests their (my) money.
Do we fail ourselves when we choose convenience? If there is something we truly believe in, but we choose not to do it because it is out of our way, or too hard, or no one else is doing it, how will that sit in our heart? It is a good question to ask ourselves, if we can do so in a non-judgmental way. And the kicker is to not judge all the people who are not doing what we see as right action. We have enough work to do inside this head of ours, foisting our morally correct action on others is just distracting us for cleaning up our own house. This part is not easy, believe me I know that! Do I cringe when I see people buying plastic water bottles by the case? (Which to me is very different than buying one once in a while if you forgot to bring your own.) Did I chastise my husband for bringing home yet another large bottle of Panteen conditioner? (Check the blog for the first part of that fun story). Am I surreptitiously leaving coupons for Eco Loka at houses that I see have plastic buckets of plastic pods in their laundry rooms? Yes, yes yes!! Guilty on all accounts. While these encounters inspire me to keep up the work of telling people about the plastics problem, and providing a possible solution, they also remind me to not be in the place of pointing a finger. Instead, I strive to see where I allow convience to forgo following through with the work it takes to do and be what my heart tells me to do. The foundation of a yoga practice is effort, self study and surrender (yoga sutras chapter 2 verse 1). All of this falls under that. While I would like to point a finger at the USA for being the number 2 country for carbon emissions, I also have to see when I am driving needlessly. Is it because I think my 100-mile trip in the car is going to make a difference in the 5,416 million tons of CO2 that we emit in a year? No. However, it makes a difference to my heart to not just be the one who points, but to be the one who acts.
In the Bhagavad Gita, seeking "right action" is explained by Krishna to Arjuna. Krishna emphasizes that it is not just about knowing what to do (consider how easy life would be if we always knew what to do!) but also when to do it. Krishna is really teaching Arjuna how to be a "right actor". The work we need to do to become a right actor (the one who knows what action is for the highest good and when to do it) is never convenient. And, it never includes the "you should be doing this!" In the beginning of the story we see Arjuna as willing to pay for what he thought was right action with his reputation of being a fearless warrior. By the end of the book Arjuna is willing to place not only his life on the line for right action, but the lives of all the people he loves and respects. We are usually not asked to pay such a high price! Once we start to see the hidden cost of not responding to right action, we might be willing eschew convenience for something that requires a bit more work.