Doing Yoga on the South Lawn

          After two semesters of courses and teaching composition classes, I am finally returning to regularly going to yoga classes. I’m finally returning to doing both yoga and meditation on my own. In these moments I am able to slow down my world, listen to my breath, and focus on what my body is saying to me. After I end my sessions, I return to the world with a renewed, focused mental clarity. I then start thinking on how the lessons I learn in these sessions relate to other aspects of my life, especially with regard to progressive work in the South. I feel like so many progressive folks I have seen, especially while living in Alabama, feel worn down and seem defeated, despite working their damn hardest at times. I wonder, though, what would happen if we started doing more internal reflection, focusing on our local progressive groups’ heartbeats, breaths, intentional inner thoughts.  

        I was raised in and have worked with a local Democratic Party in a rather conservative, red county in North Carolina. I was able to serve my county’s party as the third-vice chair and chair of the young democrats in that area. Even in this rather-conservative county, this Democratic group was perpetually fired up, and I’m to proud to see the work of those who still live there. They’re not worn down. They’re not feeling defeated. They’re thriving and showing a brilliant presence in the county. When I was there, on the whole, the group was very intentionally focused on what was going on in the community. The group focused on the local level and listened the variety of voices, for the most part. This was a wonderful group to be a part of while I was completing my undergraduate degree.

          While this group is certainly a group that focused intentionally, breathed together, and listened to their members’ hearts, I readily concede that this may not always be the case in the future. It is certainly not the case in many rural progressive areas throughout the South, where I read or hear about recollections of trying to stay optimistic. When we’re so focused on the opposition and the power that the opposition currently holds in much of the South, we are spending valuable time and energy on the defensive. That energy can begin to feel zapped and unappreciated.

          What if we took that energy that we spend feeling weighted down by the opposition and re-focus our thoughts and energies? We would probably see a room full of wonderful, progressive folks who have hearts ready to work for the good of the people in their local communities. We will see people ready to breathe hope in the progressive ideas across the South. We will see people whose inner thoughts could come together to start thinking about ideas to improve communities on whatever level possible. We will maybe see groups that have been so focused on the external circumstances that they have forgotten to look at their internal beauty and strength. Maybe, just maybe, we would see groups re-blossom and hold their poses of strength to such levels that breathing becomes easier and rejuvenation brings new strength to local movements.

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