I sat on my yoga mat at my favorite studio in downtown Manhattan, Jivamukti. I planned my entire Fourth of July weekend so I could take this two-hour advanced practice yoga class with icon teacher, David Life, the celebrated co-founder of the studio. David stood before a jam-packed classroom and introduced what he intended to speak on: Why we like war.
The class topic came from his observation of his cognitive dissonance about war. As a legendary, progressive, yoga teacher who devoted his life to championing freedom for all beings (animals included), my curiosity was piqued. David surely doesn’t like war, I thought, he’s a pacifist. He proceeded to explain how, strangely, he observed weird ways that war sentiments impassion him.
After listening deeply, it began to make sense. He’s a world-renowned activist and artist with strong political stances that push up against mainstream standards. Obviously, he’s devoted his life to fighting for what he believes — something I admire.
His honest and vulnerable dharma talk prompted me to take a direct look at myself. Where in my life did I experience this sort of cognitive dissonance?
My immediate answer to this question came quickly. For one, I have faithfully practiced at Jivamukti for years, and though Jivamukti firmly stands for veganism, I am not a vegan, not even a vegetarian. Though I have tried to oblige their requirement for sattvic yogic living, I have made a choice to live a lifestyle that represents my needs — despite my love of yoga. I have struggled for years with this.
After I had peeled away the most obvious cognitive dissonance I dealt with (the fact that I ate eggs for breakfast), I went a bit deeper. I firmly asked myself: where in my psyche do I like war? For two hours, I let the confronting music David played – he narrated the class with confronting sounds of gunshots, aggressive hip-hop, war tunes, and psychedelic Beatles – take me deep into the asana practice and my subconscious. It became obvious to me where negativity permeates places reserved for light. During those two hours, I acknowledged dissonant parts of myself “fighting” for attention within me.
By the time I began to slowly move my fingers and toes as I woke from corpse pose, savasana, I could tell I purged a part of myself. My sopping wet clothes from sweat and my frayed hair symbolized a “battle won” within: a deeper sense of inner knowing achieved.
David expertly crafted an experience that Sunday afternoon that challenged nationalism, pacifism, yoga, and self constructs. He made clear that even in messages of pacifism, often the language of war prevails. He took us from the macro into the very personal, prompting us to examine our love-hate relationships and to get to know our own dissonance better. After all, the only place we can ever effectively create change is with ourselves; if we can’t even see ourselves accurately, how will we change the world?
Why am I talking about this now, today? The upcoming new moon on July 15th happens in the sign of Cancer. While Cancer is a nurturing sign—one of the most loving of the zodiac—this new moon might not feel so nurturing. In fact, it could even get angry.
The sun and the moon are at the same degree of Cancer, but Uranus (the planet of surprises) makes a hard angle to this new moon. Ouch. If that weren’t enough, Pluto—the tough planet that was very active during the last full moon—is opposite of aggressive, masculine, Mars. Double ouch. These aspects are not friendly and could very easily become negative. So with that in mind, I want to bring light to the most productive way to use this energy: look within.
Here are four things to do this new moon, to make peace with yourself.
- New moons are times of beginnings, but as I mentioned this new moon might not be very supportive of new beginnings. Rather than launch something new, look backward in your life and evaluate the past. Take stock of where you’ve been and identify places in your life where you feel incomplete. Make a list of things you need to finish and bring up to date. Focus on completion rather than new beginnings.
- Blow off steam at the gym, or on your yoga mat. This new moon packs a punch. If you are even the tiniest bit somatically wired (honestly, we all are), you are going to want to expend this energy physically. Make time to exercise. Under these aspects, it’s non-negotiable. Choose an activity that you can put your 100% focus on and give it your all. Exert yourself. Move the energy through your body and let it go.
- Spend time alone. People might be peeved under this energy. Take responsibility for yourself, and create space in your life to go inward. While it’s tempting to look to relationships to nurture us, use the Cancer energy to nourish yourself.
- Don’t play the blame game. It’s a waste of time, especially today. Rather than putting energy into blaming others, take a step back and get clear on what your vision is for where you want to go, despite the setbacks that you might face. Sure, if we lived in a perfect world, you might be further along. But let’s face it, perfect is a fantasy, and life may never get easier. However, you can become more resilient. This begins with radical self-acceptance, taking ownership of your life and getting clear on exactly where you want to head—even with the obstacles you may face. Take responsibility for you and move forward accordingly.
No matter what happens in your life today, make today about peace, not war.
I’d love to hear from you. Where in your life are you feeling dissonant or torn on an important subject? What ways can you create a peaceful solution for yourself?
As always I send you my love!