Fending off the Malas – Day 2

The second of the malas is mayiya mala.  Mayiya mala is often described as the sense of separation that arises from seeing too much difference in the world and not enough unity.  I think of it as a pair of glasses you put on – the “disconnection glasses” – when you are under the influence of our first mala, anava mala, the feeling of unworthiness.  Yes, it’s true…all of these malas are related.  They can even stack up on each other and compound each other – oh boy!  If you think about it though, it makes sense.  If you feel less than great about yourself — disconnected from your source and unworthy of love and light – it’s difficult to see the brightness in others.  Your eyes get covered with the same gunk that enshrouds your heart, and before you know it, you see only the aspects of your friends that annoy you, and the pet peeves of your coworkers look like giant transgressions.








Now, it is important to keep in mind that being able to see difference and diversity is a gift and a skill.  If unity were all we ever saw, the world would be less colorful and wonderful than it is.  If we lacked the quality of “viveka,” or discrimination, we would be unable to choose our unique paths in the world.  We’d all look the same and be doing the exact same thing.  Not only would that be boring, it would defeat the purpose of the divine becoming us altogether! After all, the universal became the individual to experience the amazing variety that unfolds in the world. Seeing diversity and having discrimination are wonderful gifts.

Of course, like many gifts, they can be overused.  That’s when the problem arises (right, here’s that middle road/balance thing again – does it ever go away?!).  A classic example of this comes about for many folks in public yoga classes.  There you are doing your practice, surrounded by other bodies doing their practices.  It’s impossible not to notice that bodies vary, and that poses manifest in a diversity of forms.  There are two ways of looking at this diversity.  One would be to appreciate the beauty in each and every body in the room, giving credit to those who are doing the pose for the first time and modifying it to meet their individual needs as well as drawing inspiration from the accomplishments of those who are in the completed forms of the asana.  The other lens is the compare-and-compete one.  “Why can she do that pose when I can’t?” or “He never comes to yoga, why are his hips so open?” or  “The only reason she can do this pose is because she doesn’t have to work and does yoga all day” or “I am never going to be able to do that arm balance like everyone else here. This practice is stupid!”  Ever hear any of these voices?  Hmm, yeah…me too.  Mayiya mala.  Seeing difference. And guess what?  Those voices stem from a sense of unworthiness.  Anava mala.  Ouch, the double whammy!








Once again, the big question is…how do you fend off this mala and keep your heart shiny and bright?  Once answer is: by creating connection.  Creating connection takes practice!  We did it this morning by looking around the room with an eye towards all our similarities – 5 fingers on each hand, 5 toes on each foot, smiles, two bright eyes, strong bodies, a desire to be happy, a need to be loved, a choice to dwell in the same community.  We did poses which encouraged us to help each other and poses where we supported the individual bodies around us.  We switched mats to see the views from others’ places in the room, and found that the views were not all that different.  And we did yoga.  And breathed.  By the end of the practice, we were all glowing.  I’d like to think that everyone went out into the word and saw the parallel struggles of the complaining customer in front of them in the grocery line and gave him or her a big smile.  I can honestly say that I believe that’s the first step towards peace in our communities, both local and global.


~ by bridgetannlyons on December 14, 2011.

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