Excellence Reporter: Prof. Klein, what is the meaning of life?
Melanie Klein: The question is all at once incredibly broad and deeply personal. In the most general sense, I believe the meaning of life hinges on our journey to accessing, feeling and becoming an expression of divine love. How deeply can we connect to this source and allow it to permeate our whole being? How can we live and share this truth with every aspect of life on this planet?
What that proces looks like is personal, unique and varied. The journey is one that begins from deep inside and moves outward. It requires introspection, the cultivation of self-awareness, and the illumination of our blind spots and shadows alike while simultaneously allowing the reflections and bubbling insights to move us into action. This is an ongoing practice which is why yoga, meditation and other mindfulness techniques are essential. It’s also why I’ve married my work as a Sociologist and Women’s Studies professor with my study of, experiences and countless benefits from my own yoga and meditation practice over the last 22 years.
It was an obvious and natural connection. From the get go, my experience of yoga practice squarely placed the heart of yoga in direct alignment with my sociological imagination and feminist consciousness. For me, feminist ideology and praxis, the lens of sociology and yoga are all centered on raising consciousness – to become awake, whole and free.
As we become more conscious and liberated from all the things that hold us down and keep us small, we cultivate the ability to see the truth of our lives – and, usually, it becomes clear that we’re all connected and inextricably linked. Our internal struggles and external challenges may be different (often – radically different), but we all struggle and feel pain. We all have the capacity to love and triumph. And we can expand our capacity to grow into the wellspring of love.
With newfound clarity, we can begin to see how each unique journey leads to a similar place or vision. And in this truth, we not only have the opportunity to connect to our whole and authentic self, we have the ability to connect to our full humanity and the humanity in everyone around us. We can grow our compassion and empathy and use it as fuel for action in ways that are authentic to us.
And this has been my mission for the last 24 years – to continue to grow and transform as well as guide and support those on similar journeys. Combining my academic background with mindfulness practices, whether I am engaged in activism or advocacy work, teaching, mentoring, consulting or working with my coaching clients 1:1, I am committed to supporting and cheering people on as they access their authentic voice and proclaim that truth boldly and unapologetically. To me, this is liberation and what life is all about.
~Melanie Klein, M.A., is an empowerment coach, thought leader and influencer in the areas of body confidence, authentic empowerment, and visibility. She is also a successful writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Moorpark College in Ventura County, CA. Her areas of interest and specialty include media literacy education, body image, and the intersectional analysis of systems of power and privilege. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, 2014) with Anna Guest-Jelley, a contributor in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice (Horton & Harvey, 2012), is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis (Shroff, 2014), a featured writer in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Mindful Living (Llewellyn, 2016), co-editor of Yoga, the Body and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis with Dr. Beth Berila and Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016) as well as the editor of the new anthology, Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body. She co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition in 2014. She has been practicing yoga and meditation since 1996 and currently lives in Santa Monica, CA.
Instagram: @melmelklein @ybicoalition
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