Friday, June 4, 2010

Violence In Your Heart

"It should be obvious that the condition of non-violence would never need to be raised if we were not in fact violent people. We might reject that conclusion on a personal level, while recognizing violence in others, but if we are honest with ourselves we will see that violence is an integral part of our nature.

"What are we to do then with this violence which is part of our being? If we attempt to overcome it, don't we commit violence against ourselves? We struggle against our own violence, attempt to subdue it, contain it, eradicate it, and this effort is violence.

"...There is no formula for self-discovery...Our violence is a fact, as factual as the page on which these words are printed. To see the root of our violence we only need to look." - John McAfee

I am thinking of the stereotypical yoga lady. You know her. She's anywhere from mid-twenties to mid-forties in age. Fairly well off or pretending well, otherwise she wouldn't be rocking her pRana headband, tank, and super breathe-weave non-chafing anti-funk capris (all matched in a chic burnout print), unrolling her Jade mat, or delicately refueling on some 200% "organic" yoga snack on her way to the spa to maintain her tan and pedicure. If her elitist presence doesn't scare off those people considering yoga (obviously a fat chunk of cash is a serious requirement for enlightenment and will sculpt your ass quicker, too), then her personal torture on a rectangle of rubber will.

She steps to the top of her mat and strangles it with her toes. She grinds her palms together EXACTLY in line with the center of her chest. Shoulders tense. Veins already popping out in her neck as she brutally kicks all thought from her mind with an impatient exhale. Her namaskars put you in mind of some mutant cross of a toy soldier and a Clydesdale: rigor mortis limbs up down up down, leaping crashing thudding snorting. Brow knitted and already starting to drip. (But you've GOT to sweat, damn it, or you're not burning through your impurities to the center of your being...or burning through the B&J's you are SO regretting this morning...)

And not just sweating, but running soaked by the time she gets to the standing poses. Which there are a lot of and stacked in sets of five or ten that play hell on her human anatomy (she almost always gets a massage after class, how could she not?). Glaring at herself in the mirror as she suffers in one of the multitude of Warrior variations, she can smirk in miserable satisfaction. The sweat glistening on her arms (which could be slightly more toned...hopefully we do a lot of static holding on the elbows in plank or maybe just a thousand more poorly executed chaturangas) looks GOOD, yeah. She's a real yogi, man: she yanks, forces, struggles, shakes, cramps, sweats, yanks some more, pushes, shoves, and oh yeah, sweats. Good thing her outfit doesn't trap moisture or odor. She's all hard angles, stressed joints, heavy breathing, and is absolutely wiped out by the time she reaches savasana. As it should be. Right?

"They look more like real yogis. You know..." No, I don't. What the hell is a REAL yogi? For sure it's not the lady whose "practice" totally turned me off and actually scared me a little. What she just showed me was nothing short of violent...and if you can't see that, I can't help you. I wish I could, but sorry. Can't. See it first, then come talk to me. Once you see it, we really don't even need to talk, because I'll have nothing to tell you that you didn't already figure out by yourself. Once you see it.

And if what you do on the mat reflects what you do in life...then what is yoga doing for her? There are all kinds of ways to beat your body and soul to death. Yoga - real yoga, whatever that is and I do not presume to have an answer - should not be one of them. It IS not. If you're beating your body and soul to death in the name of yoga, you aren't anywhere near yoga anyway. It protects itself by remaining elusive to those who exploit it.

They love running around in cute t-shirts with poor old Gandhi's wisdom printed across their (maybe) artificial breasts, while real violence continues to surge through them and their lives. It is a subtle surge...or perhaps not. Look again.

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