Come for the Yoga, Stay for the Satsang

Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.         – Johann Hari

This is a quote from a really fascinating article about the source or cause of addictions. Here is a link to the article, computer gods willing.  As the quote above states, the antidote to addiction is community.  Obviously not just any community, but a supportive community of people to share life with in some kind of meaningful way.

When I first read the article I was so inspired and humbled because it seems like  — well, duh  — we can do that! We can make community happen!  And while I think it is probably a little more complicated than “just” being part of a community, it also seems like we all need to get off our individualized fannies and BE together.

The mediation mantra for the month is Satsang.  Satsang is a community of people, practicing together.  Practicing yoga, practicing prayer & meditation, practicing generosity, practicing forgiveness, practicing accountability, practicing love — Practicing Community.  It makes a difference that each person shows up and offers their part. It makes a difference that we are doing this together, to support and encourage each other, instead of isolated, lonely, and critical. I like that we are always practicing, because we will never get it perfect, and it is always changing, adapting, expanding, and getting it reconfigured.  Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Practice is perfect.

This past week was Martin Luther King Day and about 30 of us gathered to encourage and inspire each other in our yoga practice and by raising $350 + 5 bags of groceries for a local food pantry. It was awesome.

Left to my own devices, I would not have reflected on MLK Day and my own strength and resources to make a difference in the world.  Left to my own devices, I would probably not have even done yoga that day.  Left to my own devices, I would not have donated any money to this food pantry, which is less than 2 blocks from my doorstep.  It’s not because I’m such a horrible person, but on my own I am thinking of my needs of cleaning the house, taking my kids to play, what I’m making for dinner, and how I might possibly take a shower today.

There is MAGIC in a satsang; a practicing community.  Together, I am inspired to be generous. Together, I am emboldened to step out of my regular comfort zones and do things I would not even consider doing on my own.  Together, I am excited and inspired to seek out deeper community, widen the circle, and welcome everyone in.

That magic of satsang heals us in ways that traditional medicine cant because some of the aches and pains we feel in our bodies did not start there, and can only be healed by way of our spirit.

I imagine that most people initially come to Daily Bread Yoga retreats and classes for the yoga.  But, I hope that they come back (and keep coming back) for the satsang; the practicing community.  It can’t be the spa-like setting. We do yoga in church lobbies, classrooms, and fellowship halls – it works, but it is not so attractive.  The floor is never ideal (except in Philo).  The temperature is really hard to control.  Random people from the church are often walking through the class.

The actual yoga practice matters, for sure.  But, we all could be doing the exact same routine at home on our own mats.  What makes all the difference in the world is the satsang.  That’s the magic.

So, join us.  Come for the yoga, stay for the satsang.  (I might need to make that into a t-shirt, so consider it copyrighted!) Check out the schedule on this blog to find the right class for you.  Try out a retreat.  Invite me to come to your church or temple so we can widen the circle even further.  Get connected.  You need it and we need you.

And what the heck, why not join us for our first ever Satsang PotLucky!  Friday, Febrauary 27th 6-9p.m.  at St. Matthew Lutheran, Urbana.

It will be a grand potluck of yummy foods and great time to get to know all the wonderful people who have been supporting and encouraging you in your own practice of yoga, which supports your own practice of living!  Let me know you are coming so we can be excited to see you.  I will try to organize some kind of sign-up here…

I wish I had some super-awesome way to wrap this up with a bow, but my kid just woke from a nap.  So, there you go. We’re all doing the best we can, right? okay, good. Me too.

Peace on your head,




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