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Monday, June 20, 2011

Still Thinking About the F-Word: You Know the One–Family

Yep, it's true. Three years after angsting over family and what it means, I'm still working it out. But I'm doing it over on my other blog!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thinking About Ego

Today after class a conversation with a student led me to thinking about how ego attachment has such a strong impact on how efficiently and effectively I am able to exercise.  I'll have to give that some more thought.

In the meantime, here's another blog entry for you, with yet another lesson from a student and an important reality check.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Post Over There! (>>>points yonder)

I am still working out how I want to use each of my blogs, how much overlap I want to give them.  The original idea was to gradually phase this one out but, you know, I'm kind of attached to it, so I'm just not sure. It's sort of like a special note you get from someone or a comfortable shirt that's wearing out–what the heck do you do with it when it has lived its useful life but your nostalgia has taken up residence and refuses to leave?

Anyway.  Sigh. There's a new post over in my new Yoga Blog: Modeling Meditation

And a similar post coming soon to my writing blog, but from a slightly different perspective.  I'll keep you posted! (Yeah, I know. That was lame.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Working with Reality

I teach several yoga classes at a local gym.  The classes are one hour long and they are all intended as all-level classes.  As instructors we've been given certain limits about what we're allowed to teach.

A couple of weeks ago I had a new student approach me before class wondering if I would be the regular instructor.  What exactly was I planning to teach? he wondered.  We chatted a bit and he expressed his frustration with being unable to progress in his practice by taking classes at the gym.  He wanted to do other poses–harder poses–but the teachers wouldn't teach them.  Would I be willing, if I saw the same people showing up week after week, to progress the class? Could I maybe give him extra pointers?

I offered my sympathy and had a few suggestions of my own:  Maybe he could take some extra classes outside the gym? Or if not classes, perhaps a workshop here and there or private lesson? If he knew the poses he could use extra knowledge from books or videos or online instruction to try some other things while in class.  The problem, I explained, was that these classes are intended to be all-level.  While I can certainly adapt my class to the people I see attending, I have been hired to do a particular job and I need to honor that.

Each suggestion I made he responded to in the negative. He didn't want to spend extra money on classes, his other gym had an instructor who was willing to teach more advanced poses, he didn't have enough knowledge on his own to experiment.

He was a nice enough guy but I was really struck by something in our conversation: his problem-solving was doomed to be unsuccessful because it was based on changing reality, rather than on working within real constraints. And I thought about how often I do that as well–rather than looking at an actual situation, I try to make the situation change around me and my desires. Problem-solving HAS to be based in reality or it's not problem-solving.

So, you know, this guy? He taught me a lot, it turns out.

copyright 2011 J. Autumn Needles

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sex and Social Science

(Cross-posted to another blog, Spicy Confessions from an Alluring Yoga Temptress.  You can probably expect a certain amount of overlap, silence and/or chaos for a while, while I try to get all my blogs in a row.  So to speak.  Bear with me.  I'm sure it'll all be worth it.)

I just tried (and failed) to read Sex at Dawn by C. Ryan and C. Jetha.  Back to the library it went!  I failed not because I thought it was wrong or badly written, but because frankly I just lost interest.  The question of how humans are programmed is just not all that interesting to me beyond a certain level, especially when I see so many sub-groups with agendas around the research.  Sexual orientation is a choice?  Choose differently!  Sexual orientation is genetic?  How about a pill or surgery to change it!  Humans are born to be monogamous–look at the evidence!  Whoops, change that; we’re actually born to be sexual sharers, creating social cohesion through sexual favors.

The research is important, yes, because understanding is a useful thing.  But ultimately we’ve got these brains to contend with, these brains that actually allow us to think about and observe ourselves, and make choices beyond our biology.  So it’s not that the research itself is a bad idea but what we often get up to with it, which is to make rules about right and wrong.  We also have the bad habit of picking and choosing the pieces of the research that work for us, and leaving the rest of it out.  So, for example, maybe I read Sex at Dawn and I love the fact that it looks like multiple relationships of both affection and sexuality are the thing for humans (Yay, I'm right!  I win!), but frankly I’m not so hot about the idea that we might be better off sharing our sexuality with everyone in our social group, as well as sharing the child care (Oh, let's just forget about that part, shall we?).  If I want to back up my own behavior, I’m going to have to be cautious in my reading.  Ultimately though what I'm really interested in is choice, and I want to make my choices based on what I think is important.

Want to be monogamous?  That’s fabulous!  Who cares that humans aren’t built that way?  It’s a great way to direct and focus your energy, and minimize your risks of sexually transmitted diseases.  Is it challenging?  Awesome!  Disciplined effort is a great practice and a useful skill in all kinds of ways.

Want to have multiple relationships?  Terrific!  Living outside the social norms gives you permission to experiment and gives you perspective, and empathy, for the outsider. Do you struggle with it sometimes?  Awesome!  What a great way to confront your inner demons by sharing with others.

Want to lie or cheat in your relationships?  Oh, not so fast!  Want to make rules about everyone else’s behavior because they’re all doing it wrong?  Whoa there!  In a lot of ways I think that life is a big experiment where we are both the scientist and the subject, and how amazing is that that we get to play around with all these big ideas in this fascinating body we have!  Really, that's what yoga is in a nutshell!  But pulling other people in as puppets in our little play?  Or trying to shore up our beliefs out of fear?  That’s just not playing fair.

Yes, do the research.  Yes, think about it.  But ultimately we all have to figure out what truths we’re going to live by, in order to do well by ourselves and others.

copyright 2011 J. Autumn Needles