How well do you know the history of the human family? The following self-reflection may help you answer this question:
- In what ways do you identify with Canada’s dominant culture?
- On a score of 1-10, how would you rate your relationship to your own culture?
- How informed are you of you history and ancestry?
- Why is it important that each person learns about their culture, history and ancestry?
- Is the information you learned about your race, culture and history accurate, and how do you know this to be true?
Indigenous societies place emphasis on the family and community more than on the individual; their reasons are worth understanding. In this family/community focus, there is no denial of self. In fact, some ancient wise ones instruct: judge thyself.
Living in the System
“No matter how long the night, the day is sure to come.” African Proverb
For a long night of at least 500 or maybe 2,000 years, people have been marginalised by the dominant, patriarchal system without inclusion of their heritage, values and more. A person without heritage is cut off from her roots. As a rootless being, she experiences doubt, fear, anger, loss and depression. In addition, groups subjected to marginalisation carry the heavy burden of oppressive systems which may result in trauma ongoing stress, mental health challenges and physical ailments.
The absence of accurate information, the mis-education around world history in general and African history in particular, is perpetuated by the dominant group. In a game of declaration of superiority, the dominant group ensures that everyone is fed inaccurate information that keeps the wheels running smoothly as it creates privilege in social institutions for its own group.
Those not of the dominant culture are labeled “other” and include people from racialized communities, Indigenous people, older adults, women and people with disabilities. The impact of the ‘youth game’ is even more troubling because youth are particularly ready for truth and change.
How can the individual who is not in the dominant group adequately care for her body and mind in order to thrive and not just survive? Philosophies and technologies meant to transform the person into a divine being also effectively repair damaged states of mind and body during the process. Yes, these are the spirit-mind-body disciplines of transformation or yoga. Yoga finds its way into lives and brings relief. It has become a strategy for survival. It is proven that the techniques balance the nervous system, enhance breathing and reduce stress. A practitioner of yoga will also learn to focus her mind.
More questions to reflect upon:
- Is stress reduction enough to end the negative impact of daily micro-aggressions?
- What benefit might there be in knowing the hidden legacy of one’s ancestry?
- Are you living up to what a divine being is capable of: a being filled with the highest virtue and wisdom?
- Are you following the highest code of behaviour given by the ancient systems of transformation or yoga?
Who are you?
Yoga propositions that the cause of suffering is misidentification of self; thinking you are someone or something you are not. That raises the critical question: who are you? And even, where are you from? Some respond, I am a spiritual being having a physical experience. This reply can be a double-edged sword.
Identifying with things of the mind and spirit can be problematic for someone who, for whatever reason, has little or no interest in her body or her heritage. By discounting the body and all things connected to it, the yoga practitioner may, like a new convert, embrace a new identity as a “yogi” and overlook her heritage, culture, and history.
Are you your physical body?
The philosophy of yoga reminds us that the journey to mind mastery is long and requires patience, practice and perseverance. In the end there is freedom from suffering. This liberation includes going beyond or not identifying with the physical body. In time, somewhere along the journey, the yoga practitioner gets it! “I am more than the physical body!” And with this realization that she is more than the body, the liberation philosophy often proves to be a diamond worth pursuing. If the person lives mostly in her head, the goal of liberation is grasped with both hands to treasure for life. The practitioner feels validated with the glimpse of freedom.
Ancient systems of transformation or yoga
Yoga at a mundane level (with which many are familiar) can help the body and mind. However, these ancient systems of transformation found in different cultures offer much more. The practitioner can become wiser and more and more divine. And when she is merged with her heritage she becomes more confident while experiencing self and group esteem that was previously unknown.
A lover of truth will dig to know the history of ancient systems of transformation, her own heritage, and the ancient history of the human family. It is important to note that some historical stories and eras are difficult to face. Yet, healing the human family must include coming to terms with these painful moments and realities.
The greatness, dignity and divinity of the origins of civilization are waiting for the lover of truth to discover; she will also uncover more of self, family and community. I welcome you to take this remarkable journey.