Mon Jun 24 2013
It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It's......
Nope. It’s a human being!
While theater screens abound with heroic stories about ‘men of steel’ this summer, I would actually like to reflect on last year’s big hit: The Hunger Games.
If you read the book or saw the film, you know the story is about Katniss Everdeen, a teenager forced to take part in a horrible battle to the death on live TV. You probably developed an empathic connection to some or all of the characters faced with a horrible conundrum: kill or be killed. What type of society would choose innocent youth, throw them onto an battlefield, and film every blow for entertainment?!
Let’s face it: life throws us incredible challenges from our first moment to our last. A movie like The Hunger Games shows us a dark side of that reality, asking us to explore life challenges that we didn’t choose -- but have no choice but to face and overcome.
Where do we turn in order to find resolution or solace in a trying situation? Where do we go to tap into the wisdom that helps us make sense of what is before us? Do we turn to those around us or do we turn to our inner guidance? Well, we need to rely on them both. We trust both our inner wisdom and the benefits of interdependence.
Sometimes closing the eyes is the answer. Turning inward is not denial. We develop our inner wisdom and intuition through a yoga and meditation practice. We see the same when Katniss was able to check in with the teachings of her father who instructed her on how to survive in nature.
Sometimes asking for help from others is useful. We all benefit from having allies! Katniss forged a sweet bond with another youth who was eventually killed. As painful as this death was, the connection helped Katniss stay focused on keeping her humanity and compassion. In the midst of the cruel and unfair game she was forced to play, she was able to use her charm to earn her the support of outside supporters, or ‘sponsors.’ And even in the bare bones of survival, Katniss never took advantage of other people. Ultimately, Katniss persevered because she began to trust her abilities, with intuition being one of the most coveted. While she won the competition, she really won because she kept her humanity – both by listening to inner wisdom and by seeing that, in each moment – no matter how dreadful – there is a good, ethical, and compassionate way to be.
The sequel won’t be out until November, so you might consider another inspirational tale: that of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. The story speaks through the ages (just like Katniss’!). Arjuna is a mythical warrior who must choose sides in a hopeless, bloody battle between two sides with nothing to gain and everything to lose. As with Katniss, simply denying your role in events isn’t an option. But with a clear mind, any situation can lead us to enlightenment.
Here are a couple quick links to get you started on Arjuna’s story:
Arjuna benefited from Krishna’s reality checks as he entered his battle. Arjuna’s dialogue with Krishna is an existential exploration that shines the light of truth on what destiny really means. As brief as this part of the epic Mahabharata is, it is one of the first writings on the many facets and benefits of yoga.
While both the The Hunger Games and Arjuna’s tale are inspirational and educational, you are the one living a life that can be challenging and rewarding. And this leads me to the real summer blockbuster superstar. This superstar doesn’t even need a cape to be a real hero. He doesn’t even need to be made of steel.
That’s because, THE HERO IS YOU!
Your life journey is where the real thrill is and where the true tests of courage lie. We may not be facing life or death in an arena like Katniss, or have to go into battle like Arjuna, but each of us has his own tale to tell of how we have overcome and persevered.
I know some people (including myself) who have fought huge corporations to save our homes. I have witnessed amazing courage in people dealing with health issues like cancer and HIV who fight to prolong their lives against incredible odds. I know of people dealing with enormous amounts of stress and how they have transformed their lives through yoga and other mindfulness-based practices. The list of modern day champions go on, and that list includes YOU!
Step onto your yoga mat to recharge. Tap into your inner wisdom. Trust that you are strong enough. Trust that these challenges are presented to you for a reason.
You’re the superhero! So get yourself a theme song and an epic title along with your intention and make this summer a JAI-full and joyful season of meeting each challenge with dignity and grace! Each day you wake up is a sequel unwritten and as you set your daily intention and hum your theme song, know that you can tap into your inner strength and face almost anything. I am here to cheer you on and I thank you for always doing the same for me.
Now, pass me the popcorn, the movie is about to begin….