I've decided--after posts on blogs and FB by Karen and Linda (whom you blogreaders know, I bet), to check out the various "food" movies. A short list would include "Food Matters," "Food Inc" and "Earthlings" (yes, I've been warned). There are others. I find that Googling "vegan documentaries" gives a good list.
Now, I'm not vegan and I'm not interested in becoming some slow-foods or raw-foods or whichever else kind of propagandist. But after cutting caffeine in Austin (back on it now, a little morning tea) and reading about the Spam factory in Minnesota where pig brains caused (apparently) autoimmune disease of immigrant workers' nervous systems, and from almost ten years of knowing a vegetarian who was raised by anti-factory-farming people, it's sort of hit a critical mass, and therefore the filmfest.
I know food creates heated argument; I'm really and truly not after that here. "Food Matters": 2008 documentary, lots of talking heads, basically arguing that health can be created, and doesn't need to be medically treated. Vitamins, lifestyle choices, raw food, vegetarianism, etc. The provocative bits are these:
*medical journals are sponsored by drug companies and won't archive mags that talk about nutrition
*cancer can be treated with megadoses of Vitamin C
*health can be managed by individuals (the health care system is broken)
It has a conspiracy theory flavor which is mitigated only by arguing that the health care industry and/or medical doctors *aren't trained* in nutrition and nutritional therapy, but still, "Food Matters" comes off a bit conspiratorial, as if medical institutions are taking money over "real" cures (if we believe that high-dose vitamins can do this). It is nonetheless an argument I keep thinking about.
On cancer: the provocative quote is "change the internal environment that gives rise to the cancer." I liked that. But again the advice is high-dose vitamins and "superfoods" that can be eaten raw (spirulina, et al.) because "cooked food causes an immune system reaction" (that, I found a bit suspicious, but ok). "Food Matters" argues that chemotherapy and radiation are basically carcinogenic. They change cells, kill cells, in a way that is, essentially, toxic. The documentary recommends putting patients on a raw-food, high-fiber diet with high vitamin dosage and does show some compelling before-and-afters of such treatment being effective.
This makes me think of my father's case: an early radiation burn in the treatment of his colon cancer created apparently uncontrollable diarrhea and he had to be put on IV nutrition for weeks. Progressive weakness came with the radiation and the liquid nutrition and long-story-short by the time it was over, he wasn't strong enough to fend off opportunistic pneumonia. Would empowering nutrition--healthful food--have changed this? He wasn't a guy to like fiber or eat many veggies and certainly not to take a multivitamin or that sort of thing. Maybe on a personal level it would never have worked. Still, it sure looks like it would have been a good idea, decades earlier.
Where does consistency in the practice come from? Regularity, not overshooting for the hard pose, breath and bandhas?
Predictably, I had uneven practice with David and Shelley because I was cranking a lot of grief out of my glutes and hips, where emotional stuff tends to sink anyway. Wednesday and Thursday were the best practice days of both weeks.
But if you read around here, you'll see that I've had spotty practice whenever something emotionally intense happens, and that's been really on-and-off since 2007. Debt, relationship issues, childcare, child sleep insanity, dissertation, all that stuff. But I still have deep practice grooves, followed by shallow spotty ones.
Consistency, I think, relates to these things, it's not just marching through no matter what else you've got going on.
Yesterday I did a difficult Intermediate through Bharadvajasana (weird place to stop, perhaps, but Ardha Matsyendrasana was too much in the glutes) and had challenging backbends as well. Today I did up to Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (figured I'd add it back in) and the side-swing work in the glutes was so much that I couldn't do it, and even in Pasasana, felt vomitously ill in the glutes and outer hips. So that was that. BUT I had much more brilliant backbends. What the hell?
I think that consistent practice comes from feeling these places out as they start to give signals. "Ahhh it's going to be a tight glutes day, feel that electricity over there" even in sun salutations. I know I can do this, I've done it dozens of times, but I want to get the whole practice in, so I reluctantly modify and then I get the white-shock treatment in the hips and somehow I pretend that's suprising.
This is living in the ego, that wants to "get the pose." And it makes practice hard and then the next day it's not something I look forward to unless I'm in an edge-play state of mind for weeks (which does happen) and then it's ok but only because I know that THAT's going to be my consistent practice. In March-April 2010 I was cranking as hard as I could into Kapo A and B and I got to straight arms and saw my feet and so on. The first adjustment in Kapo, the first Wednesday, with D and S, I got that deep, but I never got there again in the two weeks.
If I try to do that now--with things arranged as they are, childcare, relationship, parent grief--I think I'd probably break something. This is fine. The practice flexes; I'm pretty sure that consistency comes with MODIFYING WHERE NECESSARY (yes ego, you're going to have to surrender, again, a little more, sorry) to maintain the given practice or number of poses or whatever.
I called my practice "Intermediate to Karandavasana" but I haven't even gotten to Krounchasana in two practices this week. If it's consistency that I value (and some days it is and some it isn't, but my ego cries loudly if I don't do "all of practice" which is also something I don't necessarily need to obey every day), then I'm going to have to chill out some poses when/as they need it.
Some days there are suprises: poses are easier late in practice (hi backbends) when I've chilled out earlier. But some days if I slow down and take care (hi Marichyasanas) I can't re-pick-up the energy. These too, these sort of waves in the practice energy, can be sensed, can be known about. Then consistency can be built on the height or shallowness of the wave.
And suddenly this takes on a very Sutras flavor: self-knowledge, focus, not confusing oneself with THAT pose or IF you did that sequence. Abandon achievement. The practice of yoga asana becomes suspiciously like life, with its ambiguity and its unknownness (and yet it can be known, a bit...).
What these inconsistent practices have provided (and particularly in the Austin room) is the idea that I NEVER KNOW what I'm going to do on the mat. Oh, I have a plan, I have a sequence, but who knows when/if I'll have to modify what, or what pose will prove impossible, or what pose will suddenly show up. But as I practice, I will know. Feeling and moving provides the knowledge because IT IS the experience.
And while I see how that would have been frustrating even at the start of this year (because I like certainty), now it's liberating: what am I going to do (oh no!)? I'm going to breathe and make some shapes. If they feel good, I will make other shapes, and then more shapes. If they don't feel good, I will change the shapes a bit and/or make fewer shapes. This is what I will do. But it requires the ego to surrender, to live in the unknown, in short to become alive, to be part of life rather than the judge of all.