So, this post is a bit late - it was supposed to coincide with July 4, but I was in California helping my mom move out of the house where I grew up. What better opportunity than cleaning out the past to consider freedom in the yogic sense?
I subscribe to many legal blogs, not the least of which is Above the Law. For those of you who are not lawyers, or those of you who have not been graced with ATL, it lovingly refers to itself as the legal tabloid. More than anything else, it focuses on BigLaw - in non-lawyer speak, this means large law firms, the international ones that drive the legal market. To be honest, I subscribe in order to keep tabs on what lawyers in BigLaw are thinking, as I find that I am very disconnected from that reality in how I view the world.
I do not think it would surprise anyone that the legal job market is grim - so grim that lawyers are fighting over unpaid internships with county attorneys in California. Unlike many people who are out of work, recent law grads are often in debt far in excess of six figures. Another legal / psychological blog I follow is The People’s Therapist. An ex-lawyer, turned psychotherapist, comments not only on psychotherapy, but also on how lawyers can benefit from it. He writes often about the belittling life that many BigLaw attorneys (Especially associates) lead. When I take the time to read the comments on his blog posts about how crippling the legal profession can be to the psyche, the most common response is akin to, “I want to give it up, but I have too much debt, and I must work.”
Translation: “I’m trapped!”
These comments reflect a world in which people cannot see their freedom. All they see is the oppression caused by the need to have a good job, make money, have possessions, and pay off the debt. There is no doubt I have felt this way. In many ways, I feel that way now. As of August 20, I am out of a job until January when I leave for the Fulbright in New Zealand. But while the daily ups and downs come, deep down I know that I am free to move beyond these limitations. Even my debt and society cannot imprison me. This santosha, or contentment, has only come through yoga.
But how does breathing and stretching with intention create such freedom? Yoga helps us see the bigger picture. I tend to be more logical than emotional, like many lawyers; if I am in debt, I better make money to pay it down. In that sense, I am trapped by this society and not free. But yoga has helped me see that my Being is always free even when external forces might predict otherwise. Yoga has opened my eyes to the world that obligation cannot reach.
In addition to seeing a bigger world, yoga can give us the tools to be free within our daily lives. We can go to work grumpy and upset. We can go to work upbeat and happy. That is our choice. I can work at a law firm because that is what lawyers do, especially after clerking for two judges. Or I can do what makes me most interested - help children in the law and bring yoga to more people, especially lawyers. Neither is right or wrong. What we have to ask is, are we making the choice from a place of freedom or a place of obligation/oppression?
By taking us out of the world we traditionally inhabit, yoga allows us to look beyond and find that which makes us love life. It opens our eyes to a deeper connection, the one to ourselves and to each other. It is not about money or prestige or possessions. On a yoga mat, the only things that matter are breath and movement. We are able to see that these are the guiding forces of our life. We take the moments to stop and reflect, ask ourselves whether the traditional path is the one for us. In these moments of reflection, we can find that the traditional path is our path, and that is wonderful - or we can discover that we need a different path.
Yoga creates the space to ask these questions. What makes you free? What gives you life? What opens your eyes?
Namaste and Blessings!