Happy Father’s Day, Summer Solstice and International Day of Yoga!
Lots to celebrate!
Today in particular, I think lovingly of my dad, Dennis Rose. He was a respected fine artist and portraitist who also ran a multimedia house and graphic design studio in Montreal and later in Toronto. My father was also very athletic. He loved playing baseball, swimming and cycling. Having three daughters did not stop him from starting his baseball team in Montreal, where we even played outdoors in the winter! Even in his 70s, he thought nothing of cycling from Toronto to Hamilton (an hour drive on the highway!) to have lunch with his brother, and then cycling home for dinner.
Our family conversations often revolved around spirituality and art. Though very open about religious beliefs, my father loved the Bible and Jesus. He woke up every day at 4am to read from the Good Book, meditate, seek guidance for the day and deepen his connection to Christ consciousness.
My father tragically passed away in an accident a few years ago, but I feel very much that the light of his essence is alive today. Not only in my beautiful niece, his granddaughter, who was born after he passed, but in my sisters, my mother, and all of creation. There is a vitality that is expressed in our inherent connection to nature that is beyond time and not limited to form. It is the stardust of which we are all made.
Whether your dad is with you or not, whether you feel happy about your relationship with him or not, see if you can find some gratitude for the part he did play in bringing you into life. Beyond the temporal and passing nature of personalities, thankfulness and love are all that remains between your eternal light and his. Go there.
This week also brings both the Summer Solstice and International Day of Yoga on June 21. As a dedicated yogi, I sincerely aim to celebrate yoga every day, be it through morning meditation practice, asana refreshes as I step away from my music production console, or the repetition of my mantra throughout the day.
For many, the question is: what is yoga really? Why does it have the power to make a profound difference in our lives? And why is MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, an act of yoga?
To most in the Western world today, yoga is a series of physical exercises involving flexibility and perhaps some hints of Eastern spirituality, such as a statue of Shiva Nataraj (the universal father, first teacher of yoga and cosmic dancer), incense, or the chanting of Om (a Sanskrit syllable that invokes the sound of the universe). Yoga has become a trendy practice and a lucrative industry, but in many cases, it has also become disconnected from its intended purpose—which is to be a means for realizing our essential unity with all that is. Once we set aside popular perceptions, we gain the opportunity to enter a sacred garden within, and touch the healing heart of yoga.
With all forms of yoga, the potential for union relates to the breath, which is involved in everything we do. Breath is the vehicle for our very life-force; it literally keeps us alive. At the same time, it is shared by all living things. As such, it reminds us that we are not isolated beings, but interconnected with the uncountable billions of living beings that share this planet—all breathing the same air. Remembering this, we live with greater awareness and responsibility, while receiving the vitality that comes from being tapped into a collective whole that is so much bigger than the limited ego.
We may come to our first (or our one hundred thousandth) yoga practice hoping to find better health, deeper inner quiet, or some relief from the stresses of life. But we have walked into a far bigger picture than these three admirable intentions. The riches of yoga have so much more to offer.
Aside from physical exercises on the mat, yoga is an ancient art and science of life. Through yoga, we learn how to live as human beings in the world. Whether we find ourselves in a yoga studio or anywhere else, we discover how awakened action purifies our mind, body and spirit—returning us to our true, interconnected nature. As this beautiful and rich process unfolds over time, our actions become powerfully effortless, and we experience relaxed joy. We meet the challenges of every day with greater clarity, luminosity, kindness and effectiveness. Our very presence will help others do the same. Ultimately, yoga changes not just our own lives, but the world.
Just as yoga helps us brings awareness to parts of our body which are suffering, it helps us become aware of the need in the world around us. Most people don’t know that the Arctic Ocean protects literally all life on Earth, but is under unprecedented threat. It is our planet’s air conditioner that ensures we all have the food and water we need to survive. Yet it is melting at an unimaginable rate, and corporations and governments are moving in to profit from its open waters.
With a vision I attribute to my long-standing yoga practice, and supported by yogis around the world, MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, is an effective and immediate response. It transforms the entire Arctic Ocean north of the Arctic Circle into an international peace park. By taking Arctic seabed oil off the table, MAPS will accelerate a global shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies. As countries come together to declare MAPS, our world moves from short-term individual gain to long-term collective good. MAPS is an expression of yoga.
To realize MAPS now requires urgent action for immediate conservation. This is only possible by melting the hearts of the world, creating lasting global transformation in the way we see ourselves, each other, and our world. Yoga supports that global shift. Yogis like Seane Corn, Koya Webb, Tias Little and Deva Premal understand this, and have already aligned themselves with MAPS through the growing Yogis Unite movement.
As stewards of the Earth, we are all called to live in harmony with ourselves, others and our planet. As we breathe and reconnect with our true nature through the practice of yoga, we give life to the world.