The Power To Lead With Love
By Parvati Shallow
"It’s all nice to get all kind and loving up here in Aspen, but truly the world belongs to, and is ruled by, the people who are powerful. If you don’t have power, it doesn’t matter how nice you are. Effectiveness and being able to create change is rooted in power." – Rod Stryker
It’s easy to assume a yoga festival called Lead with Love would be a total kumbaya-singing, hand-holding mush fest. But, what I encountered, and appreciated at the Aspen, CO based festival, was some fantastic yoga grounded in the concept that without power, we lack the capacity to lead anyone or anything. Basically, love must join forces with power to create the change that our world is so hungry for right now.
Leading with love implies two major key ideas: we have to ‘be’ love and we have to ‘do’ powerfully. Through yoga, we can develop the capacity to respond to life, no matter what it brings us, in a loving way. Then, when we develop this inner reserve, we have a responsibility to use the power of our presence and our vitality to lead others toward a greater good.
Master yogis, including Rod Stryker and Deepak Chopra, CEOs, activists and entrepreneurs laid these concepts out beautifully at Lead with Love. In a vivid tapestry of stories, wisdom talks and experiential, navel-strengthening asana classes, they weaved together this message: Leading with love takes courage to dive into our own emotional depths, the ability to self-reflect and ask for help when needed, the capacity to see the power of love to heal and transform, and the strength to take action in the world.
After just a few hours of immersing myself in this love-saturated event, I was buzzing. For those of you who have participated in a yoga festival, you know this isn’t an unusual state to find yourself in after a couple classes or workshops. But, the elation I was feeling was different from a typical vinyasa or kirtan yoga high. Normally, I like to go inward and get space away from others after a deep yoga practice, but now I felt simultaneously at peace and extremely curious about those around me. Was it all the love/power talk that was making me want to actively reach out and connect?
At lunch, with a plate full of fresh, vegetarian cuisine, I joined a table full of women ranging in ages from 23 to 65. I thanked them for welcoming me in and introduced myself. A few minutes into this meal with perfect strangers, I was hearing about the younger girls’ uncertainty as to what to do with their lives after college and another’s recent heartbreak from a relationship ending.
Turns out, the synchronicity of love was hard at work here. I opened my heart and poured it out. As a speaker, I travel to universities and colleges around the country, helping students to cope with uncertainty and to navigate the unknown (including heartbreak) with courage and grace. We were all in the right place, at the right time for a healing and uplifting conversation. I gave them my cards and encouraged them to reach out to continue the discussion.
When we’re constantly receiving alerts about terrible shootings, environmental disasters, and people in great pain around that world, it’s sometimes easy to forget that this kind of love exists between people who’ve just met. But, this kind of love, the kind that takes us outside of our comfort zone and inspires us to authentically connect with others, is the kind of love that heals. And, every conversation that springs from this place, is one that uplifts our entire planet. It’s our yoga that leads us to this opening within ourselves and gives us the power to take courageous action.
We cannot afford to wait to act with love. I have immense gratitude for those who organized and participated in this event. It’s ripple effect will be vast.
The impression I’m left with is this; Love is the power to see beyond physical form, to skip past doubt and judgment to compassion. It’s the wisdom of connection—knowing that all of us are the same underneath our skin. We all want to belong, to be touched, to be seen. With this mindset and belief system, we are capable of taking action that creates miraculous change.
As long as the Lead with Love festival continues, count me in.
To learn more about the Lead with Love festival visit leadwithloveaspen.org.