Happy April! This month brings us the Spring holidays of Easter and Passover, and for those of you who celebrate these holidays for religious and/or traditional reasons, I hope you enjoy wonderful celebrations. I grew up in a non-religious family, but with parents from different religious backgrounds so my memories of both Easter and Passover basically revolve around chocolate Easter egg hunts and searching for the matzah! Holidays were about gathering for that once a year traditional food at large family dinners with my two sides of the family. Passover and Easter tend to coincide each Spring, and according to Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, “in both festivals, nature and history converge with a resounding message of hope …. [and} the renewal of nature that comes with spring…”. www.myjewishlearning.com. In the Christian holiday of Easter, the “resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate affirmation of life ….” and in Passover, the Jews celebrate their freedom from slavery. So freedom is a mutual theme. Other mutual themes are the celebration of life transitions and the aspiration to see ourselves into the shoes of another; wishing that all those on Earth also achieve freedom. See http://www.brebeuf.org (Max Palkowitz).
To many of us, we may not be in physical bondage (although unfortunately modern slavery exists and is far too prevalent). Yet, we may be struggling with the mental bondage of our anxious thoughts, our worries, regrets of the past, and fears for the future. We may wish to have hope, but find that the negative thoughts outweigh the positive ones. In these modern stressful times, that is understandable. Yet, each generation has had their own stressors. The ancient yogis created a practice that is still relevant today as a way to counter that mental bondage, and that is pratipaksha bhavana – “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite positive ones should be thought of.” Yoga Sutra 2.33 (Translation and version by Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Publications). An example of that is when hateful thoughts surface, to switch one’s thinking to loving thoughts. Because this can be easier said than done, one recommendation to assist with focusing on the positive is to meditate on an inspiring object, such as a flower, artwork, or a photo of a loved one. Energy goes where our attention goes. It takes practice and will to use this practical tool for freedom from negative thinking, but practice is part of the process, so we must be patient with ourselves and have faith. Yoga Sutra 1.14. Spring, with its emergence of colorful flowers bringing life up to the surface after the dormant Winter, is a wonderful time to connect with the energies and thoughts of hope and faith.
Due to the holidays, the Dorot Center where I teach Chair Yoga most Monday mornings, will have a more limited class schedule as they use the large movement room for organizing holiday food deliveries to the home-bound elderly (one of many wonderful services this upper west side non-profit offers to seniors). So please see my schedule for the April changes. Recently, in Dorot’s “Generations” Magazine, my class and some of my students were featured. I think you will enjoy the article, and hopefully will be inspired by my students as much as I am! Click here to read the article: http://www.dorotusa.org/site/DocServer/F_Generations_WINTER_2017.pdf
April also brings us Earth Day on April 22! This year there are going to be large-scale events here in NYC as well as in DC (and just like the recent Women’s March, simultaneously across the planet). One week later on April 29, the historic 2014 Peoples Climate March will be resurrected in DC as the “March for Climate, Jobs, & Justice”. It promises to be a very exciting time as people join in solidarity demanding protections for nature, for our planet’s natural resources, and for those most negatively affected by climate-change. The technology now supports our people’s movement that seeks clean energy jobs, “green” infrastructure, and a just transition away from the polluting and toxic fossil fuel and chemical economy. Now more than ever, we need to join en masse to advocate for protecting our environment for our generation as well as all future generations. The Peoples Climate Movement march will also have sister marches in other cities, but the main march will be in Washington, DC to counter the Trump agenda of rolling back climate protections, removing anti-pollution regulations, while catering to fossil fuel corporations, the chemical industry, and climate-change deniers. For more information on the march, check out http://newyork.peoplesclimate.org and sign up for email updates!
To sign up for bus transportation to DC from NYC see http://bit.ly/MarchBuses
In 2014, we gathered as yogis and spiritual seekers at the NYC climate march, and the yogic principles of ahimsa (non-harming) to the Earth are even more important now under this new government administration. In keeping with our Spring theme of hope, faith, and freedom, I urge you to march being guided by those emotions and themes, and you will be uplifted by the positivity of your message. It is much more inspiring to march for something, than to be marching against someone. So we emphasize that this is a march for protecting the climate, creating jobs in the clean energy sector, and bringing justice to those marginalized and disenfranchised in our current societal structure. Joining with others seeking a just and positive future for all and not just the privileged few, reminds us that we are all interconnected. Spiritual practitioners know that we are all one, connected to one another as well as to the earth and environment. If you would like to join our “Yoga & Spirituality Group” of the Peoples Climate Movement, please “like” https://www.facebook.com/YogaAndSpiritualityHub/ .
For information on the Earth Day rally in NYC, Saturday, April 22 noon at 111 Worth Street & Centre Street,
The Rally will be followed by the March for Science:
Protect Mother Earth!