I recently started teaching yoga to a group of beginners and decided to spend the first four weeks breaking down one of its most foundational poses. If yoga isn’t your thing you might recognize this pose as simply “standing up”. If yoga is your thing, I’m talking about Tadasana (in Sanskrit) or mountain pose (in English). Why it takes four weeks to teach adults how to stand up is a very different blog post, but I had to chuckle when I thought to myself: “You’re going to spend four weeks teaching athletic adults how to stand up. What a waste of their money!”
But, it actually IS that important because every move you make in mountain pose forms the foundation for what you do in every other, more challenging pose. The only place to start is at the beginning. However, to simply practice “standing up” can feel a lot like inaction.
As is often the case in yoga, what we do in class is a metaphor for what we do in our lives. Here’s my metaphor: The election of Donald Trump had a huge impact on me, as it did for so many others. I realized for the first time in my life that I needed to be an activist. I also realized that this was urgent, I was already extremely late to the party and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I needed to build a foundation.
I cried. I read a lot. I watched too much cable news. And I joined CounterAct, a group of people like me who are similarly motivated to take action. But crying, reading, watching TV and even connecting with others didn’t really feel like activism. It felt like a lot of “ready set” without the “go”. What I didn’t realize at the time: I was building a foundation.
Then, from mountain pose, I took my first step.
On Monday night, I joined my CounterAct friends at an event called Speaking Out for Refugees hosted by HIAS, an organization committed to helping refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom. We spent the first half of the event sharing testimonials and hearing the stories of one another’s ancestors who immigrated to the US and went on to make incredible contributions to our country. We then discussed various ways we can take action. We even sent letters to Donald Trump demanding that he re-open America’s doors to refugees from war torn countries.
That was my first step; it was the first time I felt myself move from foundation building to activism. Building a foundation can feel like inaction, but the only place to start is at the beginning.
Feel like you need to build your foundation?
Connect with us at CounterAct! The idea behind CounterAct is to take a more positive and long term approach. Yes, we march and protest. Yes, we call members of Congress to lobby for and against certain issues as they arise. But where CounterAct is different is that we’re also partnering with non-profits to volunteer our time and collective voice to help those most impacted by this administration’s current and potential policies. But more importantly, for foundation builders, CounterAct is an abundance of resources and a strong, growing community.
The first step is coming to our New Member meeting this Saturday at 3pm. RSVP here.
Feel like you are ready for action?
Something to do right this second:
Send a letter to Donald Trump demanding that he re-open America’s doors to refugees from war torn countries.
A resource to help you plan for the future:
CounterAct’s event calendar is an invaluable resource. Check it out regularly for ways to take action. Here’s just a few of the places you can join us in taking action soon:
- #HandsOffDC, an organizing event focused on how Congress’ proposals will impact DC residents, and how DC residents can action– February 13th
- Onward Together, a volunteer and advocacy fair – February 18th
- HIAS Letter Writing Event, an event to write letters to asylum seekers – March 22nd
- Tax March on Washington, a march to demand DC statehood and hold Donald Trump accountable for showing the US public his tax returns – April 15th
- March for Science, a march to call for safeguarding and supporting the scientific community – April 29th
If you feel you need to take action and don’t know where to start, build your foundation first. Find your people, find your facts – and get ready to take your first step.