What I am reading

I am always reading at least two books; one fiction and one non-fiction. This usually translates to one about a serious topic and one somewhat trashy mystery. On the serious side, I just picked up, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, by Melanie Joy, Ph.D. I had heard her interviewed recently and thought her book sounded interesting. I too am a student of psychology (certainly not a Ph.D.). I am fascinated by why people do what they do.
Here is a piece I found intriguing;
“We don’t see meat eating as we do vegetarianism–as a choice, based on a set of assumptions about animals, our world and ourselves. Rather, we see it as a given, the “natural” thing to do. We eat animals without thinking about what we are doing and why because the belief system that underlies this behavior is invisible. This invisible belief system is what I call carnism.”

This strikes home for me because I am treated like some emotional naive person for choosing to not eat animals. It is not seen as a reasonable nor intelligent argument, yet eating animals is. I am interested in learning more about the psychology behind this because I believe that this doesn’t just give insight into meat eating but into many other societal behaviors. Even more interesting is the parallels with yogic philosophy.

Ms. Joy talks about something called “psychic numbing”.(Ironically, I just ran to the kitchen for a shot of tequila. Apparently, I am in need of a bit of psychic numbing myself). Okay, where was I? Oh yes, She says, “psychic numbing is made up of a complex array of defenses”. She then goes on to list them and they are strikingly similar to what is called avidya in yoga. Avidya clouds the mind. Yoga practice is helpful in clearing avidya.

Tequila, Psychic Numbing, and Avidya
So that is where I am at, pondering these three things. I think it might be time for me to turn to my trashy mystery in case I am getting too deep.

Yoga In Depth – Inspiration

When was the last time you were inspired? How many people do you know that inspire you on a regular basis? What is inspiration anyway? These are questions I ask myself regularly. Why? Because in my mind, inspiration is what makes us better. Here are some definitions of inspiration: the drawing of air into the lungs. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity. The causing of enthusiasm or a sudden idea. Are you craving that feeling of inspiration? Have you given it any thought?

Over the course of an average day, we experience a wide range of emotion. These emotions are reactions to things happening around us. They are often reactions based on previous experiences and anticipation of other experiences. Being reactive is not the same thing as being inspired. When we react we are often feeling powerless, at the mercy of the experience. Inspiration has a more empowered experience.

Many people feel at odds with their surroundings and the activities that they spend most of their time doing, namely their jobs. Maybe they do a job that doesn’t feed them on an energetic level. Maybe they work for a company who’s beliefs aren’t consistent with their own. Maybe they are encouraging people to consume more than they really need. Maybe they are working a schedule that is unhealthy. Unfortunately, this scenario is more and more common. Our culture rewards overworking, consuming too much, and being “busy”. Stress is a direct reaction to these issues. Stress is a symptom of feeling in some ways powerless.

In contrast, inspiration can be an antedote. First, we need to figure out what or who might be inspiring. Even more pressing is to take a deep breath. Literally inspire, breath deeply, fill your lungs and your body with energy, oxygen and prana or life force. At O2 we put breath at the forefront of the practice. Why, because, conscious breath is key to transformation. The breath literally calls us to the present moment. It literally feeds our cells and more subtly feeds our energetic body. Think about how you feel at the beginning of a yoga practice and then contrast that with that feeling you get coming out of savasana. Much of that difference comes from the time you spent focusing on breath.

How does this help with the other types of inspiration? Stimulation and stress are liked a cluttered closet. There is all this stuff bottled up and bouncing around inside of us. It is nearly impossible to find the space in our brains to see and feel things that make us feel light when we are cluttered up. Breath and movement (yoga asana especially) help to clean out, wring out, and clear out the body and the mind. Being inspired is being empowered. Being empowered to make changes in your life and the lives of others. These things can be very small. In fact, they really start as ideas. Being empowered means at first just knowing that there are options, choices. It then means defining them. It then means maybe, just maybe, putting them into action. The beauty of being inspired is that change feels good. Transformation happens not because we force it but because the circumstances are created. The options become available. The choices are there to be made.

Being inspired does not necessarily make for an easier life. We all know that yoga practice is not “easy”. The practice or yoga and the practice of being inspired are disciplines, work. But this practice of yoga, this practice of inspiration makes for a life that is more satisfying, more prana rich and more fulfilling. On that note, I would like to introduce you to the co-founders of Maple Farm Sanctuary, Cheri Exell-Vandersluis and her husband Jim,http://maplefarmsanctuary.org/Our%20Story.htm.
On May 22 we raised $760 for the support of the animals in their care. Talk about inspiration not making for an easy life. These two wonderful people were inspired to make a space in the world that was free of violence. They were recently featured in a movie called Peaceable Kingdom, http://www.peaceablekingdomfilm.org/.
Watch the short clip and see inspiration at work.

These people in the film don’t just inspire me, they challenge me to be better, they motivate me to make change, and they encourage me to stand up for those who don’t have a voice. Inspiration comes in all forms and it is part of the transformation taking place all around us. I wish you a summer full of inspiration and full of O2 Yoga.
Peace, Mimi

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yoursellf to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali