My first memory of experiencing anti semitism was in Kindergarten. I was riding the school bus and another child started shouting to the kids on the bus that I had horns, because I was Jewish. I was scared and confused. I didn’t understand what he was saying. He said Jews have horns because they are “bad and ugly”. From that point forward I believed I was different, and not in a good way. His words were hurtful and unkind and impacted me in more ways than he will ever know. I struggled through elementary and middle school feeling like I didn’t fit in or belonged. Even in High School when I had a good group of friends I still felt as if I was different. As I look back now, I realize this separateness I created in my mind was from one stupid comment by another child who probably was just repeating something he had heard from another child or worse, a parent. Separateness comes from within, when we feel not good enough or incomplete. When this feeling overcomes us, I believe is where hatred and anger is brewed.
When i heard the news of the Pittsburg shooting I was so angry. It seems like in 2018 that antisemitism should no longer be a problem. Unfortunately there are still so many people in our world who live from a place of fear and separateness. I believe it is from fear and lack of self belonging that this deep form of hate is born. Fear of what is different, what feels threatening. From this fear, separateness is created.
Yoga means union to yoke together body, mind, soul, and spirit. I believe that when we feel unified from within we begin to feel more connected and less separate from others. As angry as I am I also feel sorry for the shooter. I don't’ believe we are born with intense hate, that events in our lives mold who we become. Our upbringing and environment plays a large part in how we view the world and most importantly ourselves. When we are left feeling less than, unlovable, not good enough disconnection occurs.
Yoga asana teaches us to connect to our bodies, to feel the feet on the floor, the muscles contract to the bones, the expansion of the breath through our chest. Through this powerful connection I was able to start to connect first to my body, then to my thoughts, from this I have been able build more awareness of those thoughts that are not serving me, and a deeper connection to my emotions, and the ability to stop before I react. The power of connection is magic. As I was able to develop an internal sense of self-connection I was able to let go of the lie that I was separate or different. Giving up this false belief has given me the power to speak and lead large groups, be vulnerable, and form beautiful friendships and to find true love.
I began to think if yoga was part of our schools curriculum from early on, kids that may not be exposed to concepts of connection, unity, or union at home could now be exposed to a new way of thinking, different then the way they are being brought up in. If all individuals can feel personally connected, then it seems to me that it is possible to reduce the amount of hate and separateness in our communities. So we can eradicate anti-hate crimes