“Your car becomes part of your yoga practice when the ego selects your car”
Yesterday,on the drive back to my parents town I had a moment of clarity. I slowed down and became the observer. I was the passenger in the moving vehicle, yet the car felt stopped. I started hysterically laughing.
I said to the driver, “Isn’t it funny that all these people are on a highway steering these movable boxes?” He replied, “What do you mean?” I explained exactly what I was seeing. Here we all were sitting in the box made of metal, and plastic parts, steering with a wheel to get somewhere. Our only job when we’re in a car is to sit and steer. That’s it.
I started thinking about how cars are sort of like mini time portals. I said, “Can you imagine if we walked the 16 miles to get to town?, and did that for every place we went?” It’s as if we add more time onto our lives by taking a car. Or do we?
In many ways we add lots of time to our life by driving our mechanical boxes, in others ways we lose so much.
We add much to our life because we can accomplish more in a day through traveling this way. It enables us to rest longer since we arrive at our destination more quickly, like when we drive home from work everyday. Imagine walking home for two hours instead? Yet at the same time we miss out on being amongst nature and using our bodies to carry us to places. How much of the general population really takes the time to get out and be in nature? And by the way, spending time one-on-one with our earth is incredibly energizing.
Besides looking at the pros and cons of using these slow motion time machines, lets get to the real point I’d like to make here.
These boxes are just that, they are mechanical boxes. Yet, one can cost $20,000 and another costs $65,000. You can buy a car for as little as $500 yet spend over $150,000 for one. Granted, the $500 dollar car may not take you very far, and the $150,000 car is completely unnecessary. Still, no matter how much you spend, you are simply purchasing a hunk of metal, a material item. Material items do not bring us lasting happiness, nor do they diminish suffering. Since owning a car is important to most of us, lets take a yoga stand point on this for a moment.
To judge someone based on the outer appearance of a vehicle is a shame. To think that a person is of less value, less educated, less honorable, less respected, unfitting, or even poor based on the type of car they drive is ludicrous. I’ve known very wealthy folks who drive Hyundai’s and Toyota’s because they are economically savvy, reliable, safe, and worth their cost. I’ve also known teenagers who drive new Cadillac’s and Mercedes with their parents money. What is the difference here?
Some people wish not to be seen for purposes that may make others questions their worth. That is, to think a certain car is unaffordable and out of reach. What does financial astute have to do with them anyway?
In yoga, we often draw our awareness to the heart-center. We bring our hands to prayer, breathe into the chest, and draw our energy up the spine (which passes by the heart). One reason we do this is to generate awareness to this area.
So many of us are empty inside. Our physical heart is there, but the substance that should fill a heart is not. Everyone’s heart should be filled with love, peace, gratitude, goodwill, and generosity, but these basic feelings are lost. The sad truth is, most are lucky if they occasionally experience any one of these. Think about how many people we encounter everyday, and how many of them must be empty inside. The angry driver, the grumpy cashier, the looking to start a fight lady at the subway, all these people are empty inside. Cultivating feelings of love and compassion take practice and dedication. Most have never thought to practice feelings of love or known that it is necessary.
Instead, feelings of greed, envy, lust, and anger are much easier to practice because they mask the emptiness. We have hormonal responses to situations of stress that easily allow us to snap. Usually the happy hormones are ones we must work for, think of going for a run and the “runners-high”, practicing yoga and feeling zen afterward, accomplishing a goal and feeling proud. All of the happy, more centered feelings are only cultivated after intentional effort has been exercised. See how much easier it is to snap angrily, instead of practicing love?
We are all feeling empty at different times, but yogi’s and any one with a spiritual practice knows when it is time to fill this emptiness, but more importantly, knows what to fill the space with. For those who do not know they are empty, yet subconsciously feel empty might be describe this feeling as sad. But sadness is uncomfortable so they turn to anger, greed, envy, etc. It is the only way most know how to cope with life.
So what does your car have to do with your yoga practice? It doesn’t have to have much of a role if you don’t let it. Once you allow a car to become “my” car, that is where you will fail. “My” car becomes, my car is older than hers, my car isn’t as fast as hers, my car isn’t as expensive as hers, my car is better than hers, my car has more features than yours, my car, my car, my car. It’s just a friggen’ car, get over it.
Your car is a moveable box, transporting you from one place to the next. I have been a car fanatic my whole life. I have a slightly different appreciation for cars because I see the lines the designer used in his/her model, I see brakes, and motor, brilliant engineering, and beauty. I see that safety is important when selecting a vehicle. I’ve driven a rear-wheel drive American muscle car through the snow, and rain for years, and believe me, I won’t do it ever again. I would spend extra on safety alone. I also love the purr of a built motor and the speed that comes with it. But to buy a car in order to dish out money on an ego boost, no thank you. That is my point exactly, your car becomes part of your yoga practice when the ego selects your car.
The ego is a terribly judgmental thing, leading us to more suffering than good. Do what you will with your earned finances, but do not do so with the hope of feeling like a bigger person. With the hope of showing of your plastic box to someone who can’t afford the same one. Begin to carry your yoga off the mat and let go of the ego when you can.
This idea of materialism applies to all material belongings, clothing, shoes, jewelry, even the dog you pick. See The Wandering Mind to read about a way to receive more love, and drop the ego mind.