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Redefining 'Opportunity'

Our modern day culture is breeding a new way of living. Societal pressures and media campaigns more often than not tell us we’ll never be enough, or get enough, and we’re all left looking around with wide eyes for the next ‘opportunity’ to acquire and obtain something that we’re misled to think will give our lives value. This overzealous culture of ladder-climbing is shifting our basic existence and I wanted to redefine OPPORTUNITY in a way that could radically transform our daily lives and uplift us all.

Opportunity is at the absolute heart of our evolving practice, it is the incredible challenge of taking the opportunity to do the RIGHT thing, to the best of your degree in EVERY single moment with an unwavering commitment. Yes, perhaps you’ll want to stop reading now as this topic may be rather inconvenient for you, right? Attempting to do the right thing, in every moment? It sounds nearly impossible – perhaps even constraining or boring, limiting and stifling. Or, perhaps a beautiful challenge of developing accountability.

Trying to do right in every situation can seem like a tremendous burden at first but I strongly believe this can be a path to true liberation – this incredible opportunity is all yours. Personally, I’ve noticed lately that the ‘big opportunities’ make me squeamish. I watch folks intoxicated with the pursuit of grandiose opportunities be too quick to exploit someone, or many, or some resource that takes from us all in an effort to secure ‘something.’ All too often I see misguided intentions and compromised alignments in the frenzy of desiring after the next big thing. And this idea of building a life/career/relationship/etc without the foundation of right action at every step is like building a house with disintegrating timbers on unsettled earth – of no value to anyone.

Here we are as practitioners of yoga, developing a discerning mind guided by core principles of the teachings, just to name a few: ahimsa, satya & asteya. These are non-harming, truthfulness and non-stealing, respectfully. And, in every given moment and in every interaction, we have the incredible opportunity to exercise this moral compass of ours and make decisions that serve the highest truths and all those around us. This decision making process takes place in nanoseconds, the tiniest continuous slices of time as momentary interactions with life’s magic unfold in front of us.

Opportunities for radical transformation arise in the seemingly mundane and the complex; from how we attend to sorting our trash for recycling to how we show up with communication in our relationships, from how we consume food to the work that we do. There is not a single moment passing that we don’t have the opportunity to ask, “Does this serve someone else? Does this serve myself? And, does this serve all?” Every moment contains a truly unique opportunity to commune with something beyond the small self and learn how to listen acutely to see how we can serve the highest truth possible.

Most of us constantly have a convenient momentary oblivion or excuse for the opportunity at hand, loopholes that give us an easy out. “I’m busy... It takes too much effort... I don’t care about the effect this choice has... They’ll never know... It’s just once…” on and on the list goes. And the degree to which our mind still creates exceptions is the degree to which we are not holding ourselves accountable for the gift of life that we’ve been granted. Truly sleepwalking through it all, and our continued exceptions grow deeper as we go. If you were able to take stock of how many thousands of decisions you made each day, many unconsciously, the number would be staggering!

Noticing what drives the impulses behind our decisions is a potent way to start awakening, though it may not be joyful at first! Why do we not take the opportunity to do right in every moment? Does it come from a sense of lack or insecurity? Making decisions that simply satisfy a momentary need to fulfill something. Does it come from a tamasic (sloth or lazy) quality? It does take effort to step up and make the right decisions. Does it come from a sense of fear around speaking up for what is right? It’s not always easy to confront injustice.

Of course one of the challenging parts to this is that “the right thing” may be subjective. Perhaps in these moments, doing the right thing is approaching the situation with humility and a willingness to communicate clearly with the intention of coming to an amicable solution that is in service to all. Can you imagine if this mentality were part of our political system? It’s hard to fathom, especially when it seems completely nonexistent in our current bi-partisan system!

It requires a heart full of courage to be honest with oneself and make a true assessment of our impact. Once we’re willing to do this we’ll begin to see where we’ve sold ourselves short, and others, with missed opportunities to do right. From my observances, most of us simply want to learn how to live and love fully. To feel ok about our interaction with the world at large and know that we are part and parcel of this magnificence. Truth be told, I mess this up all day long. Yet, I’m aware of it and continuously take the unique opportunity to redirect my energies and efforts to be in service of a higher truth beyond my momentary missteps. This action leaves me at peace, liberated.

I want to do justice to the teachers and teachings that have found their way to my life. It is truly only by this grace that I’ve been able to hold myself more accountable with the crystal clear mirror of yoga and I make a vow to take every opportunity at hand as a chance to do right by them. A chance to do right for all, finally. An opportunity to know that there is an inherent responsibility we must all be willing to assume for being human and in this life. And to shrug this responsibility is a disservice to all.

Every decision we make and every action we take leaves a residue, both for us and the world around us. When we lay down at night after another day, or, when we lay it all down at the end of this life, what will we remember and what will we leave behind? Did we do justice to the spark of life in every being around us? Did we honor the moment and those who also are deserving of respect? Will we leave the environment healthy and thriving for those that come next? Every single moment contains an opportunity for you to make a difference.

As yogis and yoginis, use the sharpened sense of awareness to notice everything. Observe clearly without convenient illusions and excuses and you will have countless opportunities from this moment onward to step up to your fullest expression, to live and love fully. I pray that you see the wondrous opportunity you have in front of you right now.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Nat K

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