Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Eat, Poop, Be On Our Way: Diarrhea at Delphi

June 22, 2011

Maybe it was a bad piece of goat, in fact I’m pretty sure it was some bad goat… but who the hell eats goat in the first place?  Especially from some sketchy food cart on a filthy Athens side street.  But we were young and hungry and the tour-bus was about to depart on a three-hour ride to the mysterious Oracle at Delphi; and whatever was roasting there on the cart smelled, more or less, good… and looked, more or less, like Gyros… which was something we were used to from Greek joints in Chicago.

This was thirty-one years ago as I write, a twentieth birthday had in a cheap pensionne in Rome and a summer solstice sunset dropped softly into the Aegean in Corfu… and now a trip to the center of the ancient Greek world—of which I knew absolutely nothing—a couple of Jewish college boys blithely slouching toward pagan central.  Yet I never think of the summer solstice without thinking of the bittersweet birth of darkness—the longest day a birth (six months later) of darkest night; just as the darkest day in December births the light.

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In Praise of Bad Ideas

June 8, 2011

A recent article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, “Creation Myth,” is ostensibly about how Steve Jobs walked into Xerox’s secret lab in 1979 (in exchange for giving Xerox a crate of Apple stock) and walked out with everything he needed to re-think cutting edge technology for use (and monetization) in the real world.  It turns out that Xerox actually invented the personal computer and the mouse, but it was Jobs who realized how to take it to the people, with panache and at a price-point that lead to today’s Apple (and in some ways to this blogosphere and our virtual connection).

The part of the article that caught my attention personally was a quote of Dean Simonton, a psychologist I read closely when doing my doctoral work on creativity.  He says, “The more successes there are, the more failures there are as well.”  This is about the nature of innovation, where true innovators have hundreds of ideas… and therefore hundreds of bad ideas.  Gladwell underscores the point that creativity is messy and inefficient; a process that is difficult to manage.

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Let’s Start in Child’s Pose… again

January 5, 2011

Happy New Year.  I’m not a big fan of resolutions, as they seem to set us up for rigidity, perfectionism and, all too often, what feels like failure.

Instead, perhaps we might set intentions for ourselves.  In that spirit I invite you to think about (and share if you care to) what sorts of intentions you might like to embrace for 2011.

An intention can be whatever we choose dedicate our striving, loving, learning and giving to.  It can be as simple, even seemingly corny, as:  I dedicate the folding of clothes, the driving of children, the earning and spending, the helping, the exercising, the writing and creating, and/or the playing and laughing to… (our collective spirit, our children, our world… all of the above).

This sort of deliberate intention makes life into “yoga” (even if you don’t call it that)—the binding of body, mind and spirit to a common focus.

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When trees fall down

May 2, 2010

Whether or not a tree falling in a forest with no human soul to hear it makes any noise, I’m pretty sure that if that tree ends up blocking Coldwater Canyon on a beautiful Friday morning one can’t drive down Coldwater Canyon to get to work.

And so it was that on Friday I was standing still in “traffic” (which implies movement, so this was more like “parking”) along a lovely stretch of Mulholland Drive as I watched the clock on my car turn to ten a.m. (two hours after I had left on my typically thirty minute commute) blithely informing me that the therapy session to which I had failed to make it with my waiting client, the one I had asked to change, had just ended entirely without me ever showing up.

And whether falling trees do or don’t make noise, forgotten cell phones definitely do not make calls—not calls of explanation, not calls of heads up, not calls of apology—just mute and enigmatic silence regarding any excuse whatsoever as I sat contemplating the distant blue Pacific, the rogue yellow mustard growing crazy over the hillsides and the lovely purple wildflowers all just better than I at being, quietly indifferent as I sat blocked and breathing.

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Red Book Diaries

April 27, 2010

Although I choose to discuss The Red Book by Jung, I want to start by saying that although I’m more than interested to examine my own personal unconscious, I’m wishing in this blog to be of service to the group, to the collective both unconscious and increasingly conscious—and hope to frame my efforts to commune with our ineffable group (fellow bloggers, the world at large) regarding The Red Book at least inspired by this intention.

First, the background in very brief terms (for more on the publication of The Red Book see Sara Corbett’s NY Times article, although Sonu Shamdasani, editor and translator of The Red Book, said in a talk at the Hammer Museum, that he thought Jung would be “apoplectic over it.”  While I would not speak for old C.G., the collective zeitgeist is what it is, and so that article is part of the picture):

Carl Jung was a successful psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who, in 1913 had a series of haunting and horrible visions, which he later realized were premonitions of World War I.  Daring to take the contents of his unconscious seriously, he entered into a long experiment of “active imagination,” in which he dialogued with whatever figures arose out of the depths of his unconscious process—taking notes on what everybody said, and later drawing and painting the figures.

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April 20, 2010

Nearly fifty years after Timothy Leary, who evangelized hallucinogenic experience as part of the hippy generation (which was, arguably, a failed social movement that ended up more as a bacchanal than a New Age) there is renewed interest in psychedelics for emotional, psychological and spiritual purposes.

A recent article in the New York Times, “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again,” was intriguing on a number of levels.  In safely controlled and comfortable laboratory settings, patients with conditions such as intractable depression were given psychedelic mushrooms, and came back from their “trips” changed beings.

Dr. Clark Martin, a retired psychologist ailing with depression in the context of kidney cancer reported, “All of a sudden, everything familiar started evaporating.  Imagine you fall off a boat out in the open ocean, and you turn around, and the boat is gone. And then the water’s gone. And then you’re gone.”

More than a year after his single six-hour experience, Martin credits it with “helping him overcome his depression and profoundly transforming his relationships with his daughter and friends. He ranks it among the most meaningful events of his life, which makes him a fairly typical member of a growing club of experimental subjects.”

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Clock Change

March 18, 2010

At Monday yoga we were all talking about adjusting to the “time change,” when Moosh (a philosophy professor) said that if we were traveling at the speed of light there would be no time—a yogi after my own heart.

It got me thinking about how I honored Einstein on his birthday, not knowing that it would turn out to also be the day of the “time change.”  Those trickster coincidences always make me smile.

Andy and I walked at dusk that day, a beautiful day, and we talked about how time goes so fast.  It’s hard to get up to the speed of light in order to slow the whole time thing down, but at dusk, when things hover between light and dark, time always seems just a little eternal to me.  Maybe that’s why filmmakers call dusk “magic hour.”

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Whole lotta whispering goin’ on

March 7, 2010

“And the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo” (T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

It strikes me as ironic that we’ve had a slew of stage-whisperers in recent years.  We’ve had horse whisperers, dog whisperers, kid whisperers and even breast whisperers… but isn’t whispering about using a quiet voice?  How can so many whisperers be so culturally loud?  (Quiet, don’t tell anyone, says Thich Nhat Hahn or Eckhart Tolle, “I’m going to be on Oprah, teaching you about how to be present to the moment,” but next week we’re going to learn how to organize our closets.)

There was even some recent ink about people using Cesar Milan’s techniques with dogs as a parenting strategy.  Besides being ludicrous, a sorry attempt to attract yet more attention by the deliberate use and stirring of controversy, it obliterates the essential difference between dogs and children:  children are meant to one day leave the pack while dogs are supposed to stay with us until we mournfully put them down.

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Always look on the bright side of… depression

March 5, 2010

Following in the footsteps of the sagacious Monty Python, a recent New York Times Magazine article by Jonah Lehrer, “Depression’s Upside,” offers some nice insights to encourage us to not just run away, nor hunt down and kill, our dark and gloomy emotions.  Lehrer frames the discussion well.  However, the debate itself is fraught with assumptions about depression, creativity and the brain that I think are open to debate.

My overarching bone of contention comes with the assumption that depression is a “malfunction” of the mind.  The two poles of current psychiatric thinking are outlined as either depression must be medicated and eradicated, or that perhaps it has an upside—as trumpeted in the article in the form of enhanced cognitive acumen for problem solving.  The real counter-argument, not much made by psychiatry, is that depression might be a normal reaction to an abnormal world.

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Why you won’t hear much about wellness

February 15, 2010

There is mounting evidence that deep breathing (the essence of mindfulness meditation and the underpinning of yoga) is an effective treatment for anxiety, depression and a host of other issues.

Yet who is going to spread the word on this?  Sure, I’m blogging about it in my little obscure corner of the collective—and I encourage you to pencil in five minutes of steady, deep, calm breathing and put it at the top, not the bottom, of your to-do list.  This is one of the most powerful things you can do toward being your best Self as a parent, and in facilitating your own happiness.  You don’t need another book about it; just breathe.

As for why you’re unlikely to hear much about this any time soon:  there’s simply no money in wellness, not in America anyway—not in the way corporate America defines money.  Sure one can make a modest living as a holistic healer, a homeopath, a yoga teacher… but these services cost a tiny fraction of what western medicine charges for so-called healing that is based on waiting until you’re really sick and then “attacking” the illness.

Happiness is subversive.  Wellness is subversive.  Well and happy people will not buy things they don’t need, they won’t flock to doctors with their heart disease and diabetes and other chronic after-effects of toxic lives and environments… and the whole machine would start to fall apart if there were enough happily well people.

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