San Miguel de Allende, Mexico by Rick Skwiot

by Norm on March 24, 2012

in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende

You might wonder what a book about San Miguel de Allende, Mexico has to do with Yoga? Here goes.

I am always looking for ways to help promote the work of students and friends, as well as San Miguel de Allende, the town where I live and have been teaching yoga for more than 30 years.

Often, however, it is difficult to justify posting anything on this Successful Living Yoga site that is not about health, healing, yoga, or spirituality.

This was the case with the book San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Memoir of a Sensual Quest for Spiritual Healing by Rick Skwiot.

I thought so highly of the book as an entertaining insight into the Mexican people that a year ago I wrote a review of it for our newspaper, Atención San Miguel, as a bit of promo for the book and for Rick Skwiotʼs upcoming writing workshop at the 2011 San Miguel Writers Conference. I have published my Atencíon newspaper review, which is more humorous, a bit wild, and less yogic than this review, in the Amazon review section of the book.

How do I justify this book excerpt on this, my Successful Living Yoga site?

First, Skwiot writes about the wonderful ability of poor Mexican people to accept and make the most of their situation.

“Their response was not to curse their fate but to praise the rare instance of beauty.”

This is pure yoga in the higher sense.

Second, I feel that we all need to hear something good about Mexico and the Mexican people. At a time when we are so bombarded with a steady stream of negative news, it is so easy to miss what is good and best about Mexico.

 

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico:

Memoir of a Sensual Quest for Spiritual Healing

by Rick Skwiot

Rick Skwiot

(This excerpt begins where Rick is recovering from a broken ankle he injured playing basketball on the concrete courts in Parque Juárez.)

As I recuperated, Taide brought me fresh flowers each morning, washed my dishes and clothes, made my bed, boiled my drinking water, and sought my command. Whenever I requested anything of her she nodded and answered: “Para servirle”—in order to serve you.

However, in Mexico, unlike egalitarian America, to serve another did not carry the same stigma but almost seemed to confer honor on the servant. Of course such cultural norms were propagated by those being served. Yet near daily I encountered seemingly gratuitous acts of kindness, that is, people serving me or others.

Of course most service sprung from poverty and powerlessness: the boy who lugged home my groceries to earn a few pesos, the seamstress who sewed me tailored shirts from white homespun cotton for but a few dollars, the old beggar who blessed me whenever I pressed a coin into her hand, or the wiry campesino who carried firewood into town on his burro and stacked it at my hearth as if arranging an offering to the gods. As someone who materially, culturally, and genetically had more in common with the Spaniards who subjugated the aboriginal peoples of Mexico than the mestizos and indios who served me, I surely benefited from my dollar-based status in this postcolonial Third World country.

Yet, for all the cruelty and bloodshed that informed the Mexican past, the people lived in the present, within the sphere of their own circumscribed lives. And within that world, despite whatever horrors helped shape it, they seemed to live with a generosity of spirit that, as an urbanized gringo, I found quite foreign. A postcolonial theorist could make a good case implicating me in the ongoing exploitation of these sons and daughters of both Montezuma and Cortés. My luxuriating ease came about thanks to Spanish swords, the excesses of the Inquisitors, the guns of U.S. Marines who invaded Vera Cruz in 1914, the virtual (and at times literal) enslavement of workers in the fields of Oaxaca, and ongoing international capitalist domination. One could speak of entrenched hierarchies of subjugation and exploitation grounded in the Church, the Spanish class system, transnational corporations, and even cruel, lingering Aztec shadows, which combined to disempower and mute the Mexican subaltern, i.e., the lumpenproletariat peoples who washed my socks, hauled my groceries, fetched my cocktails, and swept my gutter. But that would not explain the human warmth one encountered everywhere in these dispossessed people.

Their motivations seemed largely communal and spiritual, not material. How else to explain their hospitality, their interest, their concern, their unbidden aid? So often in a Mexican home, people who had little to eat shared it with me. They sought to hear my story and to tell theirs. They helped me up when I fell. They gave me gifts and sought my counsel. They’d lead me miles just to show me a newborn goat or a startling sunset. They prayed and sought God’s blessing for me.

Their lives were often hard beyond my full comprehension. But invariably their response to toil and deprivation was thanks for small blessings, a hopeful smile when for a moment their struggle eased. They seemed to sense that the hard history and fickle future were givens about which, voiceless, they as individuals could do little.

Their response was not to curse their fate but to praise the rare instance of beauty. It seemed to me a wise choice. 

Click any of the book/author links on this page to go to the books Amazon page to

I wish that I could say that my astute mind picked out this excerpt the first time I read San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and realized I could print it on my site. Truth is, it did not occur to me even though I read the book several times.

This Christmas a friend of my sister-in-law sent her a Christmas greeting. Instead of the regular greeting, she sent her this excerpt from Skwiotʼs book as a way of celebrating something good in Mexico. My sister-in-law forwarded this to me. I read it and thought this would make a good post on my site.

I hope that you feel the same way.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you think.

Norm

For more about San Miguel de Allende go to this related article:

Gringolandia: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Flavors of the Sun March 25, 2012 at 9:48 am

What a lovely piece, Norman. First of all, there is the insightful and lyrical nature of Rick’s writing. Secondly, I love how you tied it to yoga, the real essence of yoga. Very thought-provoking. Thanks.

Norm March 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm

You are very welcome and thank you for your comment,
Norm

Diana Walkauskas March 31, 2012 at 7:19 pm

The last shall be first & the first shall be last in the kingdom of heaven.
Rick Skwiot reminds us to be thankful whatever circumstances we are in. Later when we look back we realize that God’s purpose in putting us there was for our own good. It was part of God’s master plan for us.
What is the translation of “Namasti”?
Keep up the good work!

Norm March 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm

@Diana Walkauskas,
Thank you for your comment.

Namasté comes from India and means “The Spirit in me bows to the Spirit in you.”
Or “I bow to God in you.” or “I salute the Divinity in you.” It is a way of recognizing God in everyone.

On another level, bowing to someone with “Namasté” is also a way of getting passed age, color, race, social position, wealth, religious differences, etc. and recognizing that we are all blessed with God’s presence within.

The hands are held together in the prayer position with the heels of the hands at the heart center in the middle of the chest. Then the head may be bowed slightly facing the person when you say, “Namasté.”. Sometimes you may bow in this manner without speaking and Namasté is understood even though not vocalized.

A very devout person may do all of the above and also when he bows his head he may raise his hands from his heart center and with his two index fingers touch the point between and just above the eyebrows, referred to as the Christ Consciousness Center, the Sixth Chakra, or the Spiritual Center. This may be especially common when a Swami is bowing to Jesus, a saint, or his Guru.

I hope that this helps,
Norm

Carroll Edward Young April 5, 2012 at 8:09 am

Norman,

Thank you for sharing. Rick’s words of generosity depict some of the deepest reasons why many of us make Mexico our home. Carroll

Norm April 5, 2012 at 8:52 am

Thank you Carroll. Most of us who live here agree with you.
I have received many emails from people who feel the same and appreciate Rick’s insight into the goodness of the Mexican people.
I hope all is well with you and Rebe.
Namasté,
Norm

Peter Berquist April 10, 2012 at 9:46 am

Norman,
Thanks for posting this article.
It reminds me of something I just read in the Second Coming of Christ, by Paramahansa Yogananda. On page 921, he says:
“In the so-called civilized world, the one who is served by others . . . is usually considered of a higher social standing than ‘he that serveth’; but it is different in heaven. By illustration and example Jesus stressed that according to divine law the superior position is that of service. Heavenly beings find supreme joy, not in receiving empty adoration, but in helping one another serve the universal order as God’s angels and in aiding in the upliftment and liberation of souls.”

Norm April 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Thank you so much, Peter. I am very happy to have this quote from Paramahansa Yogananda. Such a great explanation and one that I want to keep. This quote will help to remind us of the higher goals of Yoga.

In Divine Friendship,
Norm

Luis Miguel Salvadhor April 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Beautiful articule, it touchs my heart. Humility is essential to reach higher states of consciousness and of course, altruistic service.

Some how the good mexicans will be compensated in unknown ways for us. Nevertheless one can be loving and generous with the mexicans in any possible way: materially and or spiritually.

There are many millions of brothers and sisters all over the world who have been exploited and abused. Let´s start with the ones near to us.
Besides the law of karma is infalible.

God bless you. Peace.

Norm April 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Luis, thank you very much for your thoughtful comment.

Hopefully Skwiot’s words will help more people to understand these wonderful qualities of the Mexicn people.

And your words may help some to understand karma and spirituality.

Mil Gracías y Namasté,
Norm

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