Lots of us have brothers or sisters. Siblings represent a group that can trace their origin directly to a previous generation. Of course, our parents also had brothers and sisters, so a group of cousins can trace their origins to a single set of grandparents.
If we look back more than two generations then our group of cousins expands dramatically. Imagine looking right back, to the point where humans began to evolve as a distinct species. This would be a relatively small group of animals by modern population standards. Large sections of the world’s people are “cousins” as a result of the family groups of that time, so long ago.
But even these animals had parents, and grandparents, etc. Imagine tracing their origin, and so on. At some point, we’d arrive at a group of creatures that we would not recognise at all, but which were in fact our “grandparents” and directly responsible for us and for modern life on earth.
In this very real way, every plant and animal is “family”. We feel that it’s all here to serve us – we can eat and dig up and use whatever we want – and that’s a dysfunctional approach. Anyone who’s had parents that didn’t really get the idea of family will know well what I mean.
Appreciating the relationship between apparently diverse things comes when we look at things in context. Yoga texts talk about developing “witness consciousness” – the mental agility to step out of the scene in which we are the main player and assess it compassionately, much as a good friend would.
Our physical Yoga practice is the catalyst for this. We find out and (eventually) honestly accept our real physical strengths and weaknesses. It’s the first glimmer of genuine, appreciative self-respect. A clear relationship between where we are, and where we wish to be emerges.
The reality of not being able to force nature in our bodies can be a slap in the face (and some give up at that point), but it’s soon clear that we can’t force nature anywhere else either. We’re here by natural process, we live by natural process, and we’ll die too. Whatever we think we own, or won, or took, or earned was in fact given in the first place by the planet. We don’t “do” anything.
Yoga promotes both humility at the incredible scale of nature’s achievement, and a great celebration of it. Life does burst forth endlessly, and right now, we’re alive. There’s literally a world waiting for us to fully join in – if we can stop demanding that it does what we think it should.
This is really comforting and a massive relief. By consistently working our Yoga poses and letting nature evolve our tissues, we learn to take a lighter touch on everything else.