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When Did It Start, Where Does It Stop? August 29, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Depression, Healing Stories, Life, Loss, Pain, Peace, Philosophy, Suffering, Tragedy, Wisdom, Yoga.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

“For most of us, this distorted self-identity constitutes our personal world. Because this is what we feel ourselves to be, the prospect of losing it is deeply frightening. We do everything in our power to protect and perpetuate our distorted identity. When we fail, we become angry and we direct our anger at people who have harmed us or who have the potential to harm us., This is how animosity is born and how it thrives.”

– quoted from commentary on Yoga Sūtra 2.35 in The Practice of the Yoga Sutra: Sadhana Pada by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

Fifteen years ago today, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast, causing over 50 levees and flood walls protecting to New Orleans , Louisiana to fail. At least 1,245 people died in the hurricane and subsequent flooding and the total property damage was estimated (at the time) at $108 billion (USD). At the time it was ranked as the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States. It was also ranked as the costliest tropical cyclone on record – although, it is now tied with Hurricane Harvey, which hit the same area in 2017. While Katrina affected the Bahamas, Cuba, Eastern Canada, and multiple states in the United States (including two deaths in Ohio), the majority of the world’s attention landed in Louisiana – specifically because of the levee breaks that flooded 80% of New Orleans and all of St. Bernard Parish, with the Ninth Ward taking the hardest hit.

Along with all the other emotions people were feeling as a result of the death and destruction was anger. People were angry about the response – or, in some cases lack of response – by FEMA. People, specifically Black Americans, were angry at what they viewed as yet another sign of America’s racism. People around the world were shocked, appalled, and then angry at the poverty they didn’t know existed in the Ninth Ward and then at the disregard for suffering that people endured before, during, and after the storm. Fueling the anger was a rumor, a powerful conspiracy theory that the levees didn’t just fail because of the severity of the storm. According to the conspiracy theory (which was ultimately investigated by the United States House of Representatives) the levees “failed” because they were dynamited in order to save the more white-populated neighborhoods. While many, including the press, called the theory an “urban myth,” it had a foundation in history: when Hurricane Betsy flooded the Mississippi River in 1927, city officials reportedly set off 30 tons of dynamite at one levee in St. Bernard Parish, in order to ease pressure on the levees protecting New Orleans.

“Many things about the United States are wonderful, but it has a vile underbelly which is usually kept well out of sight. Now in New Orleans it has been exposed to the world.”

– quoted from an article in the UK Mirror dated September 3, 2005

Just like with Katrina, people died and homes were lost in unequal numbers that can be attributed to race (and the United States historically race-related policies). Just like with Besty, people living in the Ninth Ward during Katrina said they heard what first sounded like gunshots and then the sound of explosions. Granted, in the middle of hurricane, concrete cracking and breaking would sound the same as concrete being busted apart by an explosion. Ultimately, the facts don’t matter once the seed is planted and the anger takes root. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you mow down the top of the anger-flower; you still have the roots… waiting for the next good rain.

After laying the foundation for the practice of yoga, Patanjali starts to explain the benefits of practicing the yamās and niyamās. Specifically, he explains how cause and effect extends beyond the person practicing: non-violence leads to peace, a dedication to truth leads to realization, non-stealing leads to prosperity, walking in the footsteps of God leads to spiritual power, non-possessiveness leads to full awareness, cleanliness leads to an awareness of impurities before they take root in the mind-body, contentment leads to unsurpassed happiness, discipline and austerity lead to beauty, self-study leads to the ultimate connection to wisdom (intuition), and devoted surrender leads to the enlightenment. The detailed instructions and explanations Patanjali offers in the last two chapters of the Yoga Sūtras makes the accomplished yogi sound like a mystical wizard capable of all manner of Jedi Knight tricks and Vulcan mind melds. Before we get to those detailed explanations, however, Patanjali offers us a little taste of what’s to come: the promise of cause and effect.

Yoga Sūtra 2.35: ahimsāpratişţhāyām tatsannidhau vairatyāgah

– “In the company of a yogi established in non-violence, animosity disappears.”

Please join me for a 90-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Saturday, August 29th) at 12:00 PM. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0.

Today’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.



1. nancy - September 2, 2020

Hi Myra,

Can you send me a link to the page to pay for classes? I’m having trouble with looking it up in my history and don’t see It on your blog posts.

Thanks, and hope you and doing well,


ajoyfulpractice - September 2, 2020

Will do. Thank you for the consideration. M

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