• Derek Sean Vaughn

Invocations and Initiations: Preface

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

Yoga studio culture in the United States is...interesting to say the least, and has called us to recontextualize the way we approach our practices for modern living. I think it’s fair to say that sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t. Welcome to “Confessions of a Frazzled Yogi”, where I hope to enter the larger discussion around yoga and how we apply spirituality in our lives.The posts on this blog have been built up from ten years of being a student, over 500 hours worth of teacher training, my own life experience, and from my love of spiritual practice. The teachers I have had and the lessons I have learned along ten years of practice have given me the tools to change my life. If I were to look back at who I was ten years ago, chances are I might not recognize myself. That being said, I’m still in the “hot seat”, doing this deep inner and outer work without always seeing immediate results. Everyone’s path is different and I would be lying if I weren’t to admit the ways in which mine is sometimes still characterized by struggle.

If I’m being honest, just like most of you I have had times where the culture of yoga has turned me away from it. So often do we hear “love and light” in spiritual communities to avoid the hard work needed to actively create love and light in our world. Too often we see projections of pseudo “spiritual perfection” masking a lack of empathy for anyone dealing with complicated emotions. More commonly, we see a trivialization of social problems and civic life. We can even see this trivialization of human suffering within our own community in how we have victim-blamed and ignored those abused by our own leaders.

I often found my Masters degree at odds with the attitudes of the yoga community, to the point where I almost tapped out from the community all together. My research on sex and the sacred started to slowly embody the theoretical underpinnings of yoga that I held so dear to me. The more I moved into my teaching and studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the deeper it eventually took me back into my yoga. My research took a detour as I started to both experience and simultaneously, without meaning to, study trauma. My degree ultimately introduced me to the larger efforts of yoga, spiritual, and academic leaders who were bridging the gap between trauma and spirituality. I hope to follow in their footsteps.

My writing is a labor of love--fierce love, and one that I have put off for years. This work is inspired by both light-hearted and seemingly irreverent, quirky misadventures as well as my inner grapplings with yoga and trauma. You’ll find that these blog posts will integrate my various perspectives as a professional intuitive, a student and teacher of yoga, and a scholar in training with the wisdom gained from my years of academic study. This blog will at times be civic-minded and will aim to create thought provoking content on applied spirituality and society. This isn’t to be controversial, but so we can move beyond preaching unity and love and start putting unity and love into action. I understand that some of you may disagree with my politics. This subject matter is delicate and has me walking the razor's edge of constructive and controversial. I can’t help but wonder, how can I write in a way that is humanitarian and not overly political and partisan? Is there a benefit to sometimes taking a stand and being political? I guess I don't have a clear answer and won't pretend to always be right . Even still, I believe there is a need to create work that inspires us to use our spiritual practices in a way that fuels and helps our humanity, rather than run away from it.

That being said, this blog is not intended to be read only by activists, and not all of my posts will be overtly civic-minded. Rather, this blog will also be about my own lived experiences and personal reflections. This is so we can move beyond spiritual buzz phrases and start to engage with our spiritual concepts in a more meaningful and substantive way. These spiritual practices are not always neat and tidy. Sometimes real growth is messy and uncomfortable. Through the humor and tough conversations, I plan to bring to the table content that gives us permission to move into our humanity. The purpose of this blog is to inspire the work of embodiment, so that we may go beyond practicing and move into embodying our work off our yoga mats, away from our altars, and into our lives.

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