The Yoga of Social Media
Depending on how we use it, technology has the power to connect or disconnect us. Through social media, we may share what we love about life, be of service to all beings, enhance our relationships, and shed light on various ways to create peace in our lives. Alternately, some people may use social media to complain, gossip, tear people down, or distract themselves from reality. The “yoga of social media” may seem counterintuitive, however, when we integrate yoga throughout our whole beings—and we wish to make a difference in the world—social media becomes a small part of that whole.
I was a latecomer to the social networking scene. My spiritual activism and desire to share yoga as a lifestyle eventually compelled me to join several different platforms. I was surprised to find how many people I already knew—friends, family, teachers, yogis, and activists—who were active in these public arenas. While I now utilize social media nearly every day, the way I use it relates directly to my purpose in life. So, when I log on, it is with an uplifting intention. When I encounter a post that seems thought-provoking, educational, or positive, I might “like” or “share” it. For me, social networking is a virtual satsang, where I connect with those who share my interests in both yoga and peace.
Prior to the birth of my son Noah, whom I refer to as #peacebabe on social media, I noticed that certain posts received numerous “likes” and other posts got just a handful. If, for example, I changed my profile picture, I might receive hundreds of likes. That same day I might share something meaningful about the state of our environment, compassionate eating, or another important issue, and get only a few.
That made me wonder: what is it that compels us to like or share something…or to just keep scrolling? Are we afraid to take a stand? Have we lost interest? What is it that we are relating to or identifying with that moves us? Are we able to see the connections between children, families, and the state of our planet, so we may make the world a better place for future generations?
We live in culture full of “hashtag activism.” If something happens to be the latest hipster trend, countless people will jump on the bandwagon of liking, sharing, posting, and “hashtagging” about it. How many of us, though, are sincerely sticking with something, investigating it, and making a life change? In my personal experience, very few people persist, and once the passion of the initial hashtag movement is over, many are on to the next trend.
For many, it is easier to post hashtags than it is to bring about a significant lifestyle shift and join forces with others who are working to make the world a kinder place. Once it is no longer cool to #meditate or practice a loving and kind #vegan lifestyle, many move on to the next hashtag craze. The “quick fix” promoted by hashtags makes for the illusion of a movement, yet—when people realize these issues require more than mere hashtag activism—they often lose interest.
Over the years, I have seen quite a few “friends” on social media make grand declarations to take a break or completely delete their accounts, believing that social media is the issue. Social media is not the problem; it is the way in which we use it. Some use social networking to connect with family and friends, some may use it as a distraction, and some include it in their yoga practice, to create peaceful change in the world. I choose to use social media primarily to share what a compassionate yogic lifestyle looks like. I post pictures and recipes of delicious plant-sourced dishes, and I share what I believe to be inspiring quotes, articles, or videos related to yoga, meditation, holistic, and sustainable living. I also share about important topics, like climate change and speciesism, and what I feel to be thoughtful and uplifting music. On a more practical level, I use it to communicate with others about events, including yoga classes, film viewings, and community potlucks.
I may also post about some of my day-to-day activities, which often include what I am eating or how my son Noah and I spend our time together. As I mentioned, certain things I share receive more likes than others, for instance, a photo of Noah vs. an article about climate change. The mother in me finds joy in sharing images of my beloved son; the yogi activist in me feels disheartened to find that current events receive much less engagement than pictures of babies, puppies, and rainbows. These miracles of life are in danger, and I am liking to see more people paying attention.
Ultimately, regardless of how others react to my posts, the time I spend on social media fulfills me and serves my purpose. I feel optimistic that it uplifts others as well. It is part of my yoga practice, and an important way for me to speak my truth, or satya, by sharing what an ahimsic, nonviolent lifestyle looks like.
When considering the “yoga of social media,” think about how, when, why, and where you project your thoughts and expend your energy. What is it that inspires or motivates you? How may you serve your true self and others? What is your life’s purpose? Imagine what it might be like if we pondered these questions before sharing on social media.
We live in the information age. Advances in communication, including social media, have great potential to move us forward in a profound way—toward a kinder and more peaceful world. Technology offers us the chance to affect positive change, yet when we do not integrate our virtual actions with our real lives, outside the cyber-world, we make no systemic change.
Once Noah entered my life, I felt even more motivated and empowered to make a difference in the world, both for his generation and the ones to come. I am enthusiastic about my positive impact on the earth and in the lives of all babies—whether they have two legs, four legs, fur, feathers, fins, or scales.
Interacting via social media to promote a worthy cause or a peaceful lifestyle is a wonderful thing, and it is important that our efforts do not begin and end on social media. Liking, sharing, posting, or hashtagging to grow a social justice cause is incredibly powerful when combined with, rather than used as a substitute for other potent actions, such as assisting, volunteering, and collaborating with groups that are working to make a difference in the world. It is crucial that posting about something on a social network does not take the place of showing up and being present in the world. Moving our planet away from its oppressive, violent state—and toward a manifestation of heaven on earth—requires an immense amount of work and social media is only one of many efforts we are able to participate in.
Change is constant, and currently there is a huge opportunity for peace-filled change. There is more potential for this change than there is actual change taking place; a massive shift in consciousness awaits and begs us to take action. It is one thing to post online about peace and kindness, or to dance and profess our love for all beings at a music festival—and yet, how do we follow through with these sentiments in our daily lives? What do we listen to, wear, eat, and choose for our entertainment? How do we communicate? Are our actions kind? Do they cause the least amount of harm? Are we showing up and being present for our own benefit as well as that of others?
The birth of my son, Noah, lifted another ever-present facade in our culture. The profound experience of my connection to Noah in the womb, my increased ability to empathize and work with him through his growth, and the unconditional love I feel for Noah has awakened me to a deeper remembering of my potential of connecting with others. We must break through the illusion that we are separate from one another, and that we are able to do everything on our own. The only way to make a systemic, long-lasting difference in today’s world is to realize the interconnectedness of all life. We may do this by working together with others who share our values, and assisting with world-changing projects, events, and entities. Yes, it takes significant effort to show up and be present in the world today (especially with a #peacebabe in tow), yet when we do, our positive transformation gains strength, both within and without. Let’s not underestimate the power of coming together and abiding in satsang. This uplifts our own life and the lives of others. We must restore the planet, so that our children, our human family, and all earthly beings—both now and in the future—may thrive in a peaceful world.
Let us continue to like, share, hashtag, and post away as part of our yoga practice. And, let it also be a fraction of our efforts to genuinely show up, be present, and assist others in creating a world in which all may thrive.
Anna Ferguson is the co-creator of World Peace Yoga, a style of yoga that inspires peace in action, developing intuition, deepening empathy, and expanding compassion. Subscribe to the Heärt TV YouTube channel and check out the “Little Buddha Series” for inspiration from Anna and her son Noah. You may also connect with Anna via Facebook.
Inspiration from others…
“A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” –Kahlil Gibran
“For me, love is not about froufrou New Age-ism. It’s about a way of living and honoring the interconnectedness of life and accepting our responsibility and our power to change the world for the better . . . We live in a world that is full of problems, and we are the solutions to those problems.” –Julia Butterfly Hill
“I am leaving this legacy to all of you … to bring peace, justice, equality, love and a fulfillment of what our lives should be. Without vision, the people will perish, and without courage and inspiration, dreams will die– the dream of freedom and peace.” –Rosa Parks
“Words and thoughts concerning compassionate action that are not put into practice are like beautiful flowers that are colorful but have no fragrance.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
“If you say that you know, then you must do, because if you don’t do, then you really don’t know.” –Maya Angelo
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
“When you have a good plan . . . a clear destination then everything unfolds so nicely. So, your plan is to make a better world and that’s a great plan. That’s the other thing that’s important . . . don’t settle for a mediocre plan. Don’t settle for a plan for your yoga practice that if you reach it and you might, it’s not enough. Why not make a plan . . . because you have a limited amount of time to work on that plan . . . we don’t know how long . . . we have a great laboratory provided by the yoga practice in which to do experimentation and you have the ability to take the successful experiments into your life . . . why not have a plan or a course or a destination and an intention that is the most amazing thing you can think of. Why settle for less? Why settle for mediocrity? The world is filled with mediocre people. We don’t need anymore. We need peacemakers, we need activists that know how to stay contented, that know how to serve the greater good and that have a plan.” – David Life, Power to the Peaceful Yoga