May the Force Be With You

I just found out that today is Star Wars Day. I of course watched Star Wars when I was growing up, and I rediscovered the epic story when I was in my early twenties. Joseph Campbell, who studied mythology and offered discourse on the importance of masks for humanity, the hero’s journey, and finding purpose in one’s life was an inspiration for me as well as, it turns out, George Lucas. If you’re looking for some behind the scenes glimpses at the making of Star Wars I highly recommend reading The Hero With A Thousand Faces, or watching The Power of Myth.

The epic story of Star Wars is of course a classic because it deals with the forces of good and evil, love and destruction, friendship and enemy, success and failure. Opposition is entertaining, but the seeds of these characters – the archetypes of their personalities – and the conflicts and alliances built amongst the characters does seem to resonate in a deeply personal way. Not only are we dealing with very scary global power struggles amongst various groups of people, but we all have to deal with our own various power struggles in our professional, personal and internal lives. It has been my idealistic hope that if we can just recognize and reduce our internal power struggles, then we can recognize how much easier it is to share generously with those in our personal and professional lives, and that if we are all doing this we will have a deeper understanding of abundance and love, which will alleviate the need for the larger power struggles that bring such mass suffering. A simple solution, n’est pas?

In Yoga we learn to start by observing the power struggles withing the self

It seems to me that at different times in my life I have had different goals. When I was a child it was for safety, security, and pleasure. When I was in school it was to be intelligent and insightful. When I am with friends it is to be at ease, sincere and to bring out the best in those I’m with. When I was just out of college I set goals to lead a life with integrity and to follow my instincts. As I am nearing my thirties the ideas of a family are coming closer and closer – it feels like I’m driving down the highway and I keep seeing signs telling me that the next turn is soon, soon. I find that all of these goals, and others in regards to my health and my overwhelming hope for peace on earth, are all still important to me even though they are often times in conflict with one another.

Whenever I have questions about life I bring them to my yoga mat. If I want to know how I can live my life to my greatest potential & honor my ambitions for being a part of a great movement of yogis who are living to bring out the best in people – while at the same time attempting to live a peaceful life free of unnecessary anxiety – I often find myself in direct conflict with myself.

So I come to my mat & I ask myself – how can I do these poses to my greatest potential while remaining at peace? Over and over, pose after pose, I ask myself this same question. What better place to ask this question then when in a yoga position that seems to defy gravity, and which asks me to work on so many opposing actions at the same time. I can zoom in and observe the question in action. Something about simply asking the questions is liberating. Perhaps it is because it is an admittance that I don’t know everything? Perhaps because it helps me to feel as though I am on a journey? Whatever the case, I assume that most of my fellow New Yorkers also struggle with this quest to live to their fullest potential, and that most of my fellow Yogis are concerned with their overall health, well being, and stress management peace management. And so I wonder – what questions do you bring with you to your mat?

“I would like to beg you dear, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions, now. Perhaps then, someday, far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” Rainer Maria Rilke, Letter to a Young Poet


About Joyce Englander

I teach weekly yoga classes in New York City, which focus on moving mindfully and gracefully with the breath. I believe that learning yoga is similar to learning a language, and the more you are around it the more fluent you become. This blog is an opportunity to share my thoughts and re-visit lessons from class; to create a bridge for students to translate their classroom experience into real life. I am interested in how practicing yoga can help to improve people's lives and reduce needless suffering.
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2 Responses to May the Force Be With You

  1. ArieL says:

    Such an insightful outlook on life fused with a Star Wars theme – Nice work young Padawan!

  2. elena yanchar says:

    beautiful joyce. you’re speaking what’s been on my mind lately. i wholeheartedly agree- if we can find ways to become a little more self-aware without judgement, a little more self-loving- it can make all the difference in our ability to just love and share joy with others. simple and idealistic- but really what the world needs. i love your spirit and your heart and your insight. i’ve had that Rainer Maria quote on my wall for years. love you. xo

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