The One Person Revolution is facilitated by a practice of coming home to yourSelf.
The first step is to create a safer space internally and externally so that you can actually practice.
The second step is to practice!
Choose to feed your transformative fire within, discover your personal power, and embrace your personal freedom to live life on your own terms.
The concepts that underlie these Self-Intimacy practices include Yoga (as moral philosophy), Nonviolent Communication, anti-oppression work, trauma theory, Jyotiṣa (Vedic Astrology), Āyurveda and aromatherapy.
To learn more about From The Hearth, click here.
As it is presented in The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali, Yoga is a formal South Asian contribution to moral philosophical disagreement.
What is the right choice and the good outcome in any given moment? Yoga provides a response to these questions; it is a way of making decisions.
The pre-practice of Yoga starts with creating an environment that is safe to practice living life in, as is described in the chart above as “Creating Safer Space.” This is described in the first limb of Yoga, the Yama-s. Patañjali – the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras – shares that when one practices interrupting harm (through direct action, civil disobedience, activism, etc.) (āhimsa), what results are the facts of the world (satya) that leave people’s property intact (asteya), and their personal boundaries intact (brahmacarya), all while the practitioner does not hoard or enrich themself in this pre-practice process (aparigrahā).
The Yoga lifestyle is one that reflects this pre-practice; it is doing your part to create a place where you and every other person can safely practice living.
Once the practitioner has started engaging in their pre-practice, they can move on to making their formal commitment to Yoga practice itself which is described above as “Self-Intimacy,” and is outlined in the second limb of Yoga, the Niyama-s.
You have the choice about whether you practice Yoga or not; this is outlined clearly by Patañjali in the Yoga Sūtra I.2-.4. He states that you can either choose to lose control of your mental content, or you can take responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions.
If you choose to practice taking control of your mental content, then you are choosing to practice Yoga.
It is important to note that there are many expressions of Yogic practice. Essentially, any practice can be Yoga practice if it has these three characteristics:
- Unconservativism: it pushes against your inherited limitations, self-challenge (tapas)
- Self-Governance: it exercises self-discovery and a setting of your own agenda without external influence, self-ownership (svādhyāya)
- Devotion to Sovereignty: you do it as an expression of your devotion to a type of person that is unaffected by ignorance, egotism, attachment, aversion, clinging to bodily security, tendency impressions, action, and the effect of action. (Īśvara Praṇidhāna)
Self-Intimacy is one expression of many.
When Yoga is practiced, identification with past trauma and experiences is released, resulting in personal freedom for the practitioner. And yet, it is not this outcome that is motivating for the Yogi.
Yoga is all about the right [procedure] rather than the good [character, outcome or choice]. It is instead their commitment to the practice itself that is made at the Niyama-s that has the Yogi experimenting, researching and practicing what that commitment looks like for them.
A note of philosophical appropriation: Because it is un-interpretable by the Western Tradition, Yoga has been labelled as ‘spirituality’ and ‘mysticism.’ This is also an effort to marginalize and disempower this contribution to moral philosophy which offers a critical analysis of the Western Tradition’s arguments. And as an additional effort to disempower and marginalize this argument – while also capitalizing on it – the Western Tradition applied its interpretative lens to relatively modern expressions of Yogic practice, picked out the pieces that it could work with, colonized them, packaged them, sold them, and thus we see Yoga equated with exercise and a booming ‘yoga industry’ where the Western Tradition thrives.
All of the information shared in this section is based on the work of Dr. Shyam Ranganathan of Yoga Philosophy.
This imagery depicts the philosophy of Yoga.
Yoga Sūtra II.1: Lakṣmī represents self-governance (svādhyāya). She herself is symbolized as a lotus, and in the statue depiction of her shared here, she is literally sitting on herself, representing self-governance in action.
Yoga Sūtra II.1: Viṣṇu represents unconservativism (tapas). There is evidence of his past action (a conch shell, a cakra (a discus), a lotus flower, and a club-like mace), yet these things are not constraining him now. Out of his belly comes Brahmā – the Creator – symbolizing his ability to create new things from this state of unconservativism.
Yoga Sūtra II.1: Ādi Śeṣa – the multi-headed serpent, symbolizes devotion to Lordliness/Sovereignty as it supports Viṣṇu and Lakṣmī.
Yoga Sūtra I.2: Lakṣmī and Viṣṇu easefully float on Ādi Śeṣa, over the world of external influence, symbolized as the ocean.
Engaging with these images is a practice of coming to an understanding of the philosophical ideas of Yoga. For those who are interested, I hope that they serve as inspiration!
The following is a lecture by Dr. Shyam Ranganathan about Yoga as a basic ethical theory and South Asian contribution to moral philosophy. This is the final installment of a 4-part series; you can find Parts 1-3 linked in the section below on ‘Anti-Oppression.’
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing, and right-doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” – Rumi
With Nonviolent Communication (NVC) we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our own compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honour universal values and needs through all thought, word and action.
NVC can be seen as both a spiritual practice that helps us see our common humanity, using our power in a way that honours everyone’s needs, and a concrete set of skills which help us create life-serving families and communities.
The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.
Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer need to use the language of blame, judgment or domination. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others’ well being.
NVC creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, to governments, schools and social change organizations.
“All that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions.”
Nonviolent Communication contains nothing new. It is based on historical principles of nonviolence – the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart. NVC reminds us what we already instinctively know about how good it feels to authentically connect to another human being.
All of the information shared in this section is from the Center for Nonviolent Communication’s website.
If you’re interested in learning more about the genesis of NVC and its creator, Marshall Rosenberg, you can watch an interview with Marshall above.
The following is a presentation by Maria Engels about Nonviolent Communication. If you are interested in the resource that they referenced about Emergent Strategy, you can click here to learn more!
I would like to start this section by sharing my social location (my position in society based on my social group memberships) for context:
I am in a white body which is non-disabled and neurotypical, which was assigned female at birth. I grew up in a middle class family with access to generational wealth, and was born as an uninvited settler on, and citizen of, so called Canada with English as my first language. I have a post secondary education. I identify as genderqueer. My ACEs score is 1. I hold an incredible amount of unearned privilege at the intersection of my identities, which in turn leads to an incredible amount of ignorance of other people’s experience of reality.
I believe that anti-oppression work within any identity spectrum begins with learning about and acknowledging the violent system of thinking that is in the process of ravaging the well-being of every person on – and including – this planet. The harm that is caused by this system is different for different people depending on their social location. This is why I have shared mine above; this context is important to acknowledge as I will always be taking responsibility for unlearning the internalized -isms and biases that this violent system of thinking has conditioned and socialized me with.
I am NOT an expert on anti-oppression work. To the folks who are relatively new to anti-oppression work, I encourage you to check out this Unlearning Resource Library – a free, self-guided space that I have put together which features many of the educators, articles and exercises that I have come across on my journey so far.
CONTENT WARNING: This section briefly refers to the tragedy of residential ‘schools.’ “CW‘ will frame this section. When you see “CW,” you can choose whether you’d like to engage with that part or not.
Dr. Shyam Ranganathan has researched and written on the philosophy behind the roots of systemic oppression. In short, it results from thinking with a tendency towards interpretation mixed with Virtue Ethics; this way of thinking is only found in the Western Tradition of thought.
The Western Tradition is one of the oldest global traditions of thought, alongside the South Asian and Chinese Traditions. A unique characteristic of the Western Tradition is that it favours interpretation as a key method of thinking, which is motivated by the Linguistic Account of Thought (where thought is the meaning of what one says, and every thought has to be explained in terms of what the speaker would say).
The alternative to interpretation is observation. To highlight the difference, here is an example:
Interpretation: That man is furious and just screamed about how upset he is!
Observation: One minute ago that person raised their voice as though they were talking to someone across a crowded room and said “I am so angry.”
When you interpret something, you describe it using your own words, through your own lens of perception. What we often fail to notice is that our perspective is contingent based on certain current circumstances.
Now, combine this tendency to interpret with Virtue Ethics, and you’ve got yourself a foundation for imperialism.
Virtue Ethics is one of the four basic ethical theories which argues that when one has a good character, they make the right choice.
The Western tradition – all the way back to Plato and Aristotle – created a paradigm case of what it means to have good character, namely: be a human, white, cis-gender, literate, heterosexual, male of a certain educational, familial and class status.
This became the paradigm case of what it means to be a person, and the measuring stick against which all people were measured. The conclusion is: the more a person differs from the paradigm case (as interpreted by someone who is deemed virtuous), the less virtuous that person is and the more help they need from virtuous people so that they can make good choices.
All of this is to say, the Western Tradition’s inclination towards interpretation as a way of thinking coupled with Virtue Ethics is what has led to the domination culture that we currently reside in. All we have to do is consider so called Canada’s history to see the systems of harm that are in place.
Upon first contact, the European settlers – with their Western Tradition of thought – interpreted the Indigenous peoples and practices through their lens of perception. The Europeans couldn’t understand the Indigenous peoples, and the Indigenous peoples differed greatly in comparison to the European paradigm case.
This – in the European’s way of thinking – justified systemic oppression. A clear example of this is the residential ‘school’ system which, on the surface, was designed to assimilate Indigenous peoples into European culture and eradicate any residual ties to their world view and philosophy. Underneath the surface however, this ‘school’ system served to systematically decimate Indigenous peoples as they were ‘not virtuous’ or ‘of good character’ and therefore each was ‘less of a person’ than someone who was relatively closer to the paradigm case.
This type of violence only gets off of the ground when we have this combination of interpretation and Virtue Ethics that is the legacy of the Western Tradition of thought.
So the Western Tradition of thought is therefore the basis of anthropocentrism, communitarianism, nationalism, colonialism, capitalism and, perhaps you guessed it.. white supremacy as a whole.
The experience of systemic oppression is traumatic! And none of us are immune.
So why is it still in place? Because the vast majority of us still think based on the Western Tradition; it is so deeply engrained in parenting, advertising, and all institutions including the school system, the medical system and colonial government systems.
Therefore we uphold systems of oppression as we judge, label and criticize ourselves and each other (all forms of interpretation), and – often subconsciously but also overtly – decide how we will treat ourselves and each other based on how we compare (our proximity) to the paradigm case of what it means to be a person.
And to make sure that this all keeps going, we have been taught to cut off from our feelings. Think: grind culture, no pain no gain, praise of the workaholic.
White, cis-gender, heterosexual men are at the top of the food chain based on systemic privilege granted to them for being in alignment with the Western Tradition’s paradigm case of what it means to be a person. Everyone who doesn’t match that description works relatively harder against the forces to oppression to do and achieve what white men are doing and achieving, because – subconsciously or overtly – we have all been conditioned and socialized to believe that they have the virtuous character and therefore make the right choices.
Beyond that, society is also built to uphold this belief, so when one tries to do anything different, they are further marginalized. This can be seen in anti-oppression work when resistance and/or trauma activation occurs; the harmful system senses attack and begins to fight back. This can manifest in multiple ways:
- Internally, one might feel extreme discomfort leading them to consider clinging to their own bodily security over continuing to interrupt the harm.
- Externally, one might be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually attacked by other people who are knowingly or unknowingly upholding the system.
- Externally, the system itself might exert it’s force, withdrawing previously enjoyed unearned privileges and beginning the process of enhanced marginalization of an individual.
All of the information shared in this section about the Linguistic Account of Thought and the Western Tradition of Thought is based on the work of Dr. Shyam Ranganathan of Yoga Philosophy.
The following are a series of lectures by Dr. Shyam Ranganathan where he explains the philosophical roots of oppression. You can find Part 4 of this lecture series in the section on ‘Yoga’ above.
“A common denominator of all traumas is an alienation and disconnect from the body.” – Peter A. Levine, PhD
‘Our bodies are programmed to automatically respond to physical threats by fighting or fleeing. An experience becomes traumatic when this natural fight/flight defense is halted. When one is assaulted and realizes that there is nothing they can do to stave off the inevitable, this self-protective system may break down, resulting in the inappropriate activation of fight/flight reactions in response to minor subsequent irritations, and an inability feel relaxation or to meet one’s Need of safety.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
“Human beings are tender creatures. We are born with our hearts open. Sometimes we encounter experiences that so violate our [Needs] for safety, order, predictability, and right, that we feel utterly overwhelmed – unable to integrate, and simply unable to go on as before. We have come to call these shattering experiences of trauma. None of us is immune to them. [Their] impact may be sudden and dramatic – or the result of gradual and unrelenting violations over time. Sometimes, we are not even aware that we’re experiencing trauma until weeks, months, or even years have passed. Its damage can be quiet, creeping and insidious.” – Stephen Cope, MSW
“While thought process usually shuts down during a traumatizing experience, the bodily sensations associated with immobilization and helplessness carry the memories of having absolutely no control over the outcome of one’s life: the fate of trauma survivors is lived out in heartbreak and gut-wrenching sensations. The body, instead of being an ally on one’s road to recovery, becomes the enemy.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Traumatic experiences can lead to is difficulty in regulating one’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual experiences. Trauma permeates all levels of the body, and when in a state of trauma response, the body’s alarm systems never quite turn off. An individual who is experiencing trauma might be in a state of attachment and/or aversion. This may be subtle or obvious, and they could be in both states at the same time.
Attachment can manifest as addiction or a type of grasping for things or experiences that are external as a strategy to meet one’s unmet Needs.
Aversion can manifest as isolating tendencies or avoidance of situations or people that may activate the body’s alarm system further as a strategy to meet one’s unmet Needs.
It is important to note that these are coping strategies which are attempts to meet unmet Needs and that they serve a purpose for an individual who is experiencing trauma.
“Most people I see in my practice have become experts in bracing against their inner sensations and in ignoring the inner world of their bodies. The lives of many trauma survivors come to revolve around isolating and neutralizing unwanted sensory experiences.. from dulling their intolerable internal world to engaging in high-risk activities that provide a sense of control or relief through an emotional ‘high.’ – Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
An individual may choose to explore different coping strategies that might be healthier and more sustainable in their experience, such as Reclaiming the Body – a structure developed by the Trauma Center
“Somewhere around 1999 we became familiar with a new biological marker called heart rate variability (HRV). HRV has recently been discovered to be a good way to measure the integrity of one of the brain’s arousal systems, the one located in the oldest part of the brain: the brain stem. Well-regulated people tend to have robust HRV, which is reflected in their ability to have a reasonable degree of control over their impulses and emotions. This is mirrored in the capacity of their inhalations and exhalations to product rhythmical fluctuations in heart rate. People who are easily thrown off balance tend to have low HRV.. this could help explain why traumatized people are so reactive to minor stresses and so prone to develop a variety of physical illnesses.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
“One of the profound lessons from contemporary neuroscience research is that our sense of ourselves is anchored in a vital connection with our bodies. That being the case, people who are traumatized need to have physical and sensory experiences to unlock their bodies, activate effective fight/flight responses, tolerate their sensations, befriend their inner experiences, nd cultivate new action patterns.” – Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Through gentle, invitational work to Reclaim the Body, an individual can come to bring their HRV within their control. This is valuable for all people and does not need to be reserved only for folks who have experienced what one might think of as a traumatic event. Every person has experienced trauma, and therefore every person can benefit from a practice of self-intimacy.
The quotes shared in this section are from the book Overcoming Trauma through Yoga – Reclaiming Your Body. The information in this section is additionally inspired by the work of Yoga Outreach.
The following is a podcast interview with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk about trauma, coping strategies, and the body. If you are using headphones, please be sure to turn the volume on the down at the beginning of this video and when the host goes to begin the interview as the brief intro is quite loud.
JYOTIṢA (VEDIC ASTROLOGY)
While Jyotiṣa is not a major conceptual underpinning of From The Hearth offerings (Tara is not a Vedic Astrologer), it is considered a minor conceptual underpinning as the timing and themes of product creations and releases, offerings, and posts are directly informed by the energies of the cosmos as described in Jyotiṣa. This is done in the hopes of maximizing the possible effectiveness of this work.
The key pieces that are incorporated in From The Hearth’s offerings are the positions of the Moon (Candra) and the Sun (Āditya) against the backdrop of the sidereal Zodiac.
The following is an in-depth video and wonderful resource discussing the importance of studying Vedic Astrology. Highlights from this presentation as they correspond to the major conceptual underpinnings are offered here:
- Jyotiṣa – the science of light – is described in the Vedas (Ancient Scriptures of Knowledge)
- It is a path to self-knowledge that helps you to understand who you are; the light of knowledge dispels ignorance.
- The Inner Light – which once you learn to recognize – gives you the opportunity to look deeper within your consciousness, to be in touch with your real Self.
- Jyotiṣa assists in the understanding of the fruits of your karma (detrimental and helpful), what you bring into this life, and how to deal with the predisposed issues of life. This is revealed through your Birth Chart.
- Every person is – in their nature – perfect and pure. However, this is obscured by the planets at birth as well as the planets that influence one’s daily experience. You can understand your karma through the language of planets.
- Karma is the action and reaction of both past and present lives. All unaddressed actions/reactions need to be reconciled. When we don’t practice reconciliation, we get caught up in the illusion of life and produce more karma. Only when all karma has been reconciled does the cycle of reincarnation cease.
- You have the opportunity to exercise choice through right action in order to influence your future. You can improve your life and sort out situations; you should not be stuck in your past karma.
- This is not about just destiny; it is about understanding your destiny so that you can do something about it.
- The key to a happy life is understanding how to deal with the karma that you are born with.
- The planets (graha-s) left on their own are grasping you. The knowledge of Jyotiṣa allows you to take responsibility and bring your karmic experience within the control of your practice.
- This life is very precious; we are doing things so that we can develop and improve ourselves.
Āyurveda, a word usually misunderstood as a branch of medicine, is in fact a much broader study of life itself. It is a combination of two Sanskrit words: Ayuh, meaning ‘life,’ and Veda, meaning ‘knowledge.’
While Āyurveda is not a major conceptual underpinning of From The Hearth offerings (Tara has no formal education in this science), it is considered a minor conceptual underpinning, especially informing product creations and offerings.
Below is a video that describes the three doṣa-s and their qualities. You can also click here to learn more about the origin texts of Āyurveda, and here to access a YouTube playlist with additional information.
Want to know your doṣa? You can take a quiz by clicking here! You might choose to take this quiz twice; the first time could be general answers informed over your lifetime (a), and the second could be specific answers regarding your last .5/1 year (b). This can provide insight as to what your general constitution is (a), and whether you are currently in or out of balance with your general constitution (comparing b to a).