Applying vairagya to a multicultural day in Chicago
By Dalia Lerner
Amongst us Chicagoans sharing the same city, there are many different cultural traditions represented.
How open and genuine are our interactions with people from other backgrounds? Can yoga offer a more inclusive, expansive and even corrective vision of our neighbors? Of course!
Through our yoga practice, we learn to let go of attachments and other beliefs that cloud our perceptions. Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.15-1.16 and 1.41 address non-attachment (vairagya). Its root raga means “coloring.”
Polish your lenses with a daylong exploration of Chicago’s many pockets of multicultural splendor and new perspectives ripe for the picking.
7:30 a.m.: Be a yogi in action
- Try a new class, teacher, studio or yoga style.
- Or simply move your mat to a different location in the practice room.
9:30 a.m.: Change the scenery
- Take in the world around you by choosing a different traveling route.
- Select an alternate mode of transportation. For example, rollerblade instead of walk somewhere.
- Share the ride. Or share the wheels and rent a Divvy bike.
11:30 a.m.: Listen carefully
- At the ATM cash machine or self-check out kiosk at the grocery store, opt to hear the directions in your non-native language.
- Engage each of your senses as you go about your day.
12:30 p.m.: Explore different flavors
- Grab lunch at an ethnic spot. Try the new sushi and dim sum restaurant Vora on the Near North Side, The Phoenix in Chinatown, Greek Islands in Greektown, Nuevo Leon in Pilsen, or Tuscany in Little Italy.
- Stock up on global delicacies from Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, Patel Brothers in Roger’s Park, the Middle East Bakery & Grocery in Andersonville, and Pete’s Fresh Market in Hyde Park.
3 p.m.: Focus your view
- Visit one of Chicago’s many ethnic museums and galleries, such as the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Ukrainian Village, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, the Indo-American Heritage Museum in Rogers Park and the National Hellenic Museum in Greektown.
- Tour a neighborhood with a multicultural heritage, such as Humboldt Park. See the Chicago Cultural Alliance’s website for a calendar of events and programs.
- Volunteer to be a Big Brother or Big Sister, and mentor a teenager in a community outside of your own.
6 p.m. and later: Be transported to a different place and time
- Attend a foreign film.
- Tune in to a different instrument or regional sound at a Wednesday World Music concert at the Old Town School of Music.
- Hear a lecture at one of Chicago’s many national cultural centers. For example, the Goethe-Institute in the Loop curates exhibitions, offers language courses, maintains a library of German-language materials and hosts speakers on the arts, politics, history and the economy. The Instituto Cervantes of Chicago on the Near North Side offers similar programming in Spanish.
- Have a stimulating conversation with friends sharing strudel at an international cafe like the Austrian-influenced Julius Meinl.
10 p.m.: Yoke with a master
- Curl up with a good book to expand your perspective. One suggestion is “Sparks of Divinity: The Teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar from 1959 to 1975,” compiled by Noelle Perez-Christiaens, who lived in Pune with the Iyengar family. Her book is a testament to transformation and seeing with new eyes. “Sparks of Divinity” offers wisdom on transcending the physical aspect of the practice and the bond between teacher and pupil.