Be Like A Child.
You Chose Your Family.
Foster Home at Govardham Eco Village, India.
We had the chance to do Seva (community service free of result expectation) for Yoga Stops Traffick here in New Orleans with all of the local yoga studios and teachers. This is an organization based out of Mysore, India to stop Human Trafficking of young children that are often sold into labor or sex slavery trades at a very young age. On this day, we dedicated our entire day to children.
I lived directly across from an orphanage for my month stay in the Gokulum neighborhood of Mysore, India. I read a sign on the gate while walking to my morning yoga practice "Do not kill your baby. Leave it here". There was an actual cage with a metal baby cradle inside of it where you could. It had a plaque of Jesus Christ on one side and Krishna playing his flute on the other. On my first night in my new apartment, I heard an infant crying for hours quite late. I was disoriented thinking "who lets their baby cry all through the night like this?" Then I realized someone had left a baby just that very night inside of the cage.
Have you been in desperate situations in your life, ever? This touched home for me as the Universe orchestrated my month long stay across the street from this sign. I read it everyday. I too am adopted, from my dear father and did not know until I was 21 when who I thought were my parents sat me down to tell me the news. It is funny, growing up before this I was always angry, rebellious and would scream haunting accusations at my parents like "I am not listening to you. I am adopted. Don't tell me what to do." I didn't mean it. I was just saying it to really get to them. I later found out instinctively I was right. I went through a few years of acceptance, abandonment, truth, anger, trust and self image after this that yoga really helped me work through. And it truly has. I love my family and would do anything for them.
After really sifting through it I came to the conclusion that I had the "privilege" of being placed into good care and with a family that worked very hard to provide for me, love me and accept me, doing the best they could with all they had to work with and knew. This is truly how I feel now and if placed in the same desperate situations, who is to say how any of us would act. They say in the laws of karma that you choose your family. It is said you are actually really lucky if you get a human birth at all. I use to very much dislike this one particular "law" of karma and would think to myself. "that is a bunk law. I don't believe that one. No one "deserves" some of the things they get put through in their families." As I mature I see karma doesn't mean "privileged, special, sin, guilt, someone who gets to judge nor judged." It is far more neutral than that, even much like the laws of science of cause and affect. I actually realize now that I am very fortunate. I have traveled the world to realize this. Yet I want to be careful to never act "privileged". I think it important that we remember. This sign reminded me everyday.
Each morning after passing the sign I would head to Ashtanga practice at the Shala. I will admit it was tough some mornings and quite rigorous even though nothing changed about on the outside and it was the same sequence everyday. I kept things pretty light for the most part, joyously moving through it, especially after having spent so much time with my teachers Sharon Padmaji Gannon and Radhanath Swami, but towards the end of my month I was getting angry as it all got deeper. I couldn't pinpoint what from and was a bit shocked by it. Currently I am in probably one of the most stable, least dramatic and joy filled parts to my life to be honest and haven't felt anger boiling up inside of me in a very long time. I was even cursing Sarath, our Ashtanga Yoga teacher, inside of my mind as I was moving through the poses. I hadn't done that since I first began yoga, where I would often inwardly rebel, not liking the sequence or pose just for the sake of immature adversary like many youth (and still some adults) that are angry do. Suddenly, well into womanhood, this young rebellious little girl was appearing, feisty & red in the face. I then began to put it all together. After walking by the sign at the orphanage again and again, it all clicked. I was venting the last of a very deep seeded anger within me from a past long forgotten of severed roots. I had really worked on forgiving it entirely but there was still some residual that needed attending to.
At the orphanage there were always guards there, tall fences, gates, locks and adults watching over the children all the time. The children were asked to not get too close to the foreigners because we come and go so much and it best they not get too attached. But, the main reason for the lock down was because in India there are so many babies and children stolen from orphanages or streets and sold by desperate mothers all the time, sold as labor or sex slaves, often drugged to make them as despairing as possible. Many of them are especially women as it is still quite custom to congratulate a family that bore a son that will be heir to the caste system they were born into and a woman will one day leave the family and cost the family their entire life savings in the form of a dowry.
Observing many children drugged, malnourished & visibly tortured with fake parents in the same state in the streets of Mumbai, Jaipur & Delhi just like in the movie "Slum Dog Millionaire", coming up to me for money, a "privileged one", I became extra cautious as to how to respond to this. How does a conscious being respond to this really? Do you give people money anytime they ask for it? I was doing my best not to get angry at the "Lord" that owned them nor to myself treat them like dirt. I clearly couldn't give them money. They didn't get to keep it. What could I do? I often would sing to them. That always got us connected. Even though they were being watched, I could tell some part to their Soul was like "WOW"!... very turned on by the anomaly. For the children at the orphanage, since they were not allowed to talk to me, I began singing to their liberation from my balcony that overlooked their bedrooms in the form of mantra with my harmonium. In time, due to any child's curiously unstoppable nature, I would catch glimpses and sneak peaks of them dancing as though they were in a Bollywood flick while I sang to Durga or Sita and Ram. They had pretend lovers and roles in the dramas they would make as I sang. Ahh! We connected! It was my way of showing them that we were unified and maybe less different from one another than they might have thought. It also healed me of my abandonment and sadness over it from a time long ago as my real father is no longer living.
Today I feel privileged and at some point, getting over our roots and adding to our genealogy and ancestral karma's to plant new seeds of evolved tribal settings instead of blaming must be our aim. It is just a perpetual suffering we will continue to experience again and again otherwise. What we are born into is a primary test and curriculum of the exact situation we need to have karmic resolve. I feel this down to each DNA cell of my being. The total embodiment of this understanding has been a primary incentive since I began this yoga journey. I also know that I am lucky so I am committed to acting on my privilege.
Please act on your "privilege" today if you feel you were born into or somehow got into a good family that did the best they could. Even if you feel they did not, still commit to it with more profound compassion than someone who had it easier in their family set up. If your roots challenged you growing up, the seeds clearly offered fruit in your garden if you are reading this. Not all children currently get this chance at present. You have the chance to free your immediate family and ancestral family tree of deeply imprinted group karmic bonds by simply freeing yourself.
Today I am a child and feel younger than ever yet with the added bonus of being in a wiser, more experienced stage setting of the body I am currently in now. Often I have seen good yoga teachers that will trick students and say "come to yoga. It is the fountain of youth. You will look younger. You won't even need plastic surgery or botox." Even BKS Iyengar said this to a group in L.A. I remember reading it in Yoga Journal some years ago and was surprised at the time. It grossed me out at the time. I laugh at this now. It is a good trick as our culture is programmed to be afraid of and hide aging and dying. You rarely see anyone over 30 on most magazine covers and they are airbrushed virtual beings at that. In our country, funeral processions are behind hidden walls where we wear black and don't talk about what really happened. (accept for New Orleans, I must add) These subliminal statements grab our programmed attention and it is hard to escape it. I live by a mausoleum that is often somber. Ancestry is often not advocated in the West. I never watch t.v. but if I go out in public at all, even if it is to stand in line at the grocery store to buy my organic non-GMO locally grown vegetables, it is there.
"I" actually do feel and look younger. I do cartwheels quite often, laugh, sing and dance more. My face is softening. Most of us will age at some point (unless we leave this existence earlier than expected). It is nice to have good role models & adults that don't hide it and aren't jaded. I want to be new, know nothing, be more adventurous and daring, more curious and less "know it all". I admit more freely that I too am vulnerable just like a child and I want to be loved, cared for and accepted. All children are relying on us for this. I also want to own up to my role and abilities to be a provider of all of the "children" of the earth whenever I have the space and room. And I do. Most of us do. If you are reading this, you do.
This is the idea in the classic photo of Gopala, the baby Krishna stealing ghee (stealing our hearts). It is a reminder that we are all children. It is a plea of commitment to providing for all of the Earth's children (the elements, all animals, all humans). It is a reminder that Grace (God) also needs US. We can't blame it on our roots any longer, nor God. God needs us to care for, never abandon but to nurture and do all that we can to support sustain and protect everything that is to be cherished, not as our "property" but a borrowed, fragile, exquisite gift. It is equally important to truly grasp the Truth...we are not threatened, unsafe & have no reason to feel insecure. We are provided for, never abandoned and loved more than we can ever know.