My husband David and I bought a house in upstate New York over a year ago. The very first weekend we were at the house, I was upstairs in our bedroom looking out to our backyard that backs into 100 acres of woods, when I see our neighbor crossing our yard with his dog Pal a few steps ahead of him. I thought to myself “Huh, neighbor just walking through our backyard. I wonder if this happens all the time?”
A few weekends passed, I was hanging clothes to dry outside when two people emerged onto our backyard from the woods. They were dressed in all white. They approached me to say that they were from the Ashram next door (to whom the 100 acres belong) and that they had gotten lost on the wooded trails. They asked if I could direct them on the road back towards the Ashram. After they left, again I thought to myself “Huh, neighbors just walking through our backyard. I wonder if this happens all the time?”
Later, I suggested to David “Should we get a few of those private property signs? You know, “No Trespassing!” My husband looked at me in disbelief. “Really, you of all people a Yoga teacher want to put up ‘No Trespassing’ signs, to keep out people from the Ashram?” As always, he had a point.
This summer as I was hanging out in our screened in porch, a family of bears emerged from the woods onto our backyard. Soon after we came to know that this family has been living on the land owned by the ashram for a few years now. Again the thought passed through my mind “Huh, neighbors just walking through our backyard. I wonder if this happens all the time?” At the time, a friend out of concern for our safety suggested we consider building a fence around our yard.
Just last weekend we were preparing lunch in the kitchen when David in a low voice calls me towards the back porch. I quietly walked to where he was standing, as we looked out onto a family of deer hanging out in our backyard. I smiled as I finally started to appreciate how diverse our neighbors were and how welcomed they felt freely passing through our backyard.
– Stepping into nature often exposes to us our tightly woven world view as it comes into stark contrast with the natural rhythm of the world.
For instance with regard to our relationship with space:
“This land is my land and not your land. Private property!”
“This land is for registered workers only, not for undocumented workers!”
“This land is for Christians refugees and not Muslim refugees!”
“This land is for human habitation and no other habitation!”
– The absurdity of such demarcations can be traced back perhaps even to how we map out the territory of the human body.
“This part of the body has intelligence, has value; the rest is a wasteland”
“This part of the body, because of its utility and resourcefulness needs to be guarded, protected, & cultivated. The rest can be neglected…”
In the our inability to grasp the integrated and codependent nature of the territory of our own body, we naturally encounter that same challenge in perceiving the integrated and codependent nature of the world around us.
– The practices of Yoga demand a degree of integration, drawing from the intelligence in our feet to the intelligence in the tips of our fingers all the way to the tip of our nose, to that intelligence in the sound of our breath, whereby the experience of ourselves as a whole, operating with and within the whole, becomes apparent.