Monday, March 9, 2009
Birds and Clouds
Hello friends and neighbors. It's been a good time recently at the shala, as we pulled off a workshop on the 2nd half of the Primary Series, graduated another class of yogis from the Intro course and, generally, continued to keep it real.
How do we do it, you ask? Mostly by jumping back first and asking questions later. We have a deep and abiding investment in and respect for the yogic tradition, in all of its spiritual and psychological genius. But we have recognized long ago that most of these things - the Yoga-sutra, the Bhagavad-gita, the Upanishads - are the spiritual equivalent of Einstein's relativity revelations. We all live in this same relative universe, and we can all recite that magic equation (it starts with an "E"), but that doesn't mean that we possess an inkling of its full implication. Such capacity takes much groundwork to cultivate.
So it is with yoga or any other contemplative tradition. Change happens slowly, and most of the "work" is indirect, creating change well below the level of conscious perception. Thankfully, there's the consolation of the "yoga butt" in the meantime, eh?
Somewhere along the way, New Age fluff and yoga cross-pollinated and created a real monster. You've seen it, even though it can be hard to identify. Magazines, conferences, products and, worst of all, advice. You think "I like this - it's about yoga" but you have the uneasy feeling that somehow it's actually NOT. It was summed up nicely by a student as "birds and clouds" - that saccharine, cloying, feel-good, self-absorption-disguised-as-self-discovery nonsense that's been around for a long time, but now has the word "yoga" in it.
In short, here's another great article at Slate.com that outlines it all nicely.