Over the past twenty plus years of practice, I’ve had the great honor and privilege of being part of a number of extraordinary yoga communities. Each with their distinct view of the practice. Each with unique teachers sharing their talents and insights. All feeding into and defining who I am today.
Alan Watts says we are a symptom of the earth, the earth is a symptom of the solar system, the solar system is a symptom of the galaxy, and so forth. That is to say something that indicates the existence of something else. We move in relation to one another. We lock together. And just as the earth is a symptom of our solar system, I am a symptom of all the communities I have been and continue to be a part.
I’ve recently been remarking to students in classes that “this class” wouldn’t be the same if you stayed at home on the couch. It couldn’t be. You showing up confirms the existence of the community. It would not exist in the same way without your presence. It is your presence that creates that electrical moment when an entire room of practitioners become still. It is that connectedness when an entire room moves in complete synchronicity. We truly become yoga. We become joined. Linked.
In the video below, Alan Watts quotes Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, the Hasidic rabbi and leader:
If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But, if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you.
Some reduce this to “be yourself.” But it is bigger than that. It is impossible for me to define me without factoring you into the equation. Whether we’ve passed one another for a brief moment in time or we have a long term relationship. What I am involves who you are. We’re not separate. We define one another. We are interdependent systems.
And for that, I extend love and gratitude to you. Who am I? I am I because you are you.