Back pain is often as elusive as it is frustrating. Many people suffer from it and it’s easy to feel down when it persists. For me, years of gymnastics, dance, stress, and structurally unsound yoga practices have contributed to strain in my lumbar spine and I have learned to utilize yoga and strength-based exercises to ease discomfort.
Here is a short sequence that assists in the release of the psoas, quads, and abductor muscles. When tight, these muscles act like back pain antagonists and it’s important to keep them supple. If you are having severe pain, only do what you can in this sequence, as not to provoke or inflame. If pain is manageable, do each pose for a few minutes each. Always listen to your body and never push through pain; seek a sensation that feels like a broad stretch, rather than a sharp sensation or jab. Variations are optional. The sequence takes between 15-20 minutes.
“I am who I am, and what I believe in and what my spirituality is about, is that we’re all in this together”
Battles against humankind are as old as time, yet never before has science fiction so symbolically depicted the absolute insanity of American politics and its media-driven counterparts. Being mammals, we have experienced or thought about mythological, allegorical, or literal power themes more than once in the course of a lifetime. Such tales of good vs. evil and light vs. dark have pervaded indigenous knowledge systems, history, literature, and fiction for as long as humans have been guided to transcribe them, and possibly long before that. These stories represent a human experience that is still being lived today: A hero confronts corrupt leadership, or a heroine speaks out against an icy queen; poor civilians become refugees, threatened by political violence; mythical dark forces attempt to overtake peacemakers and shamans; religious or social extremists prostrate to their belief systems and their cause means more than life; world leaders go to war with ‘evil doers’ and ecosystems, driven by power and oil; obstreperous dictators commit genocide and build palaces with funds that could feed starving children; a disheartened populace revolt against the brutality of their government… You get the idea.
Within each of these power-driven stories, life depicts myth and myth depicts life and it is as if there is always a new, yet similar story to tell. Although tales of struggle and darkness seem to be woven into the fabric of the individual and collective psyche, consciousness also prevails, and many of us are ready to experience a more compassionate and broad-minded way of being.
Currently, a next-level power battle exists within American politics, and nefarious characters disguise themselves with personality disorder-driven antics perfectly suited for mainstream cinema. Reality television stars are somehow allowed to become presidential candidates and Ivy League trained attorneys are on deck to promulgate religious extremism. Well-vetted politicians have dibs on delegates, as if their influence is predicated upon a superficial popularity contest. These men and women demonstratively parade narcissistic personality disorder and xenophobia like a boy scout badge, while many of us sit back and wonder what the hell is happening. How did we get here and did we actually go back in time?
“We are going to have to build a wall to keep people in the country if one of these radical candidates is elected”
-Professor Jennifer Holt Ph.D, University of California, Santa Barbara
Each century, complicit acts of power and dominance create a repetitious cycle, and it is as if we are at war with an apparition because the battle appears endless. It is no wonder why science fiction, albeit frivolous with it’s computer generated exaltation, is depicting what is happening in politics and mainstream media today. And it gets really frightening when we realize how sneaky modern-day villains and villainess’ can be. Strewn across this nation is a bunched up, tangled mess of power, and with mythological and historical roots this deep, we will need to collectively pull proverbial all-nighters to change the story-line.
The 2016 United States presidential race is not unlike the movie, The Hunger Games. Our current media displays are reminiscent of the scene where the lead competitors of the games are brought on stage to be showcased by the powers that be, otherwise known as the “Capitol”. The main character Katniss – a fearless and morally-driven heroine archetype – becomes enraged by the media-infused insanity she is trying to abscond. Within the confines of the Capitol’s pretentious display, the heroine walks among troglodytes, victims, and narcissists; all of whom are prompted by inauthentic media. Sound familiar? The heroine is forced to play a part in a production that is cruel, flagrant, and detrimental to the individual and collective psyche – that is, until she fights back.
We do not yet know what will transpire politically in November, but collectively, many of us understand that the misuse of power, and choosing structures that dominate, rather than unify, is ineffective for the growth of humanity, consciousness, and the environment. And we can look to the theoretical and practical aspects of social, physical, and biological science to shed light on the idea that we, as a society, are capable of shifting consciousness. Here are just a few examples:
~ When observing the biology of microorganisms, we can view the unique presence of the microscopic world and how it directly connects with macro-expression. In essence, what exists internally is instrumental in the creation of the external world.
~ Somatic and relational psychology is based on the belief that human beings are the most authentic and conscious (with self and other), when we tap into the lived experience of the body, also known as the “felt sense”. From a space of somatic intelligence, we are more capable of being kind, showing up interpersonally, and rewiring neuropathways associated with ego, pain and trauma.
~ Quantum physics has revealed theories about the holographic mind-body or mind-matter interface; how infinite pure potential becomes actualized as human consciousness. In other words, mind becomes matter.
~ From a depth psychology perspective, the darkness or shadow we experience is an unconscious aspect of the personality and the more we can embody and consciously express our shadows, the less negatively dominant they become. In other words, greater harmony can be achieved when one confronts their inner darkness, gets acquainted with it, and expresses it in a way that does not harm others.
The above ideas elucidate a general theme present in nature and consciousness: how we choose to embody our inner experience and the world around us is profoundly associated to what manifests outside of us, particularly for those of us who believe in interconnection and are committed to creating positive change for the Whole. Just as the immune system has the ability to thwart off disease, we have the ability to transmute the negativity we experience. We can choose to operate from a place of presence, love and connection, rather than one of fear and control, and the impact of that choice is far more potent than most people realize.
Out beyond glittering lights, fake political smiles, and pretense, exists authentic human beings who wish to make the world a better place. Love and harmony can be felt in the presence of solidarity and we are able to rest when embodying the power of inner sanctum. Perhaps ask yourself today what you plan on doing to contribute to the well-being of one person, or a group of people. When we are lit up with compassion and service, every gesture, no matter how small or how funded, is meaningful and noticed by the collective spirit of humanity. What is your cause? When this question arises within you, check in with your body. For example, what makes your heart feel full and warm, and what acts of kindness and service support you to feel alive and at ease in your solar plexus or core? And at the root of passionate service exists a stable human being. How are you taking care of yourself? Can you integrate nourishing self-care practices into your daily routine? And finally, are the individuals in your life making you more or less of who you are? Take a few moments each day to envision and participate in a peaceful, meaningful life. And on this journey, may we all connect with people who fuel inner vibrancy and inspire creativity, service, and compassion.
“What the American people want to see in their president is somebody who not necessarily can win every fight, but they want to see him stand up and fight for what he believes, take his case to the American people”.