There's a lot of annoying stuff in the world. Take anything: Jeb Bush says he would "carefully consider" the vice presidency. Man eats other guy's face and has to be shot multiple times (apparently). Yoga blogs that "HuffPo" their way into sidebars by quoting other people's postings. What, are you just their publicity, or what? Yoga teachers who write provocative things but who have evasive, tell-nothing biographies.
Yoga Korunta, Singleton, blah blah, "it is well known that postures have been added, modified..." as if this is a critique of the authenticity of the legend.
Now, I could put quite a bit of time and verbiage to beating this up, because for as many places as it is smart and insightful, it is later horribly ignorant and generalizing.
But what would the point of that be, really?
Or quoting the blogger who quotes Garrigues from a recent workshop, saying that breath/bandhas/dristi are the allies of the ashtangi? That's "first class long-term wisdom," yes? And no insult to Garrigues is meant there; repetition and rephrasing are how stuff gets into my bodymind, to be sure.
But are we not interested in DOING this yoga rather than telling everyone what someone we heard say, said? Is our knowledge of ourselves restricted to telling people some swami's recipe or pithy aphorism for seeking that knowledge?
Where are we keeping our LIVED EXPERIENCE these days? Why don't you tell us how long you've been practicing, Alanna Kaivalya? Oh yeah adjusting, sure; teaching, sure; but when practicing, and what? What year did you coin your own series? Our well-known ashtanga criminal Larry Schultz was always up front about what he did and why, as a counter-example.
Why all this fronting, and why all this feeble, quote-someone-else weak-ass fronting that isn't even aware of how much it fails to be as gangsta as real fronting would be?
Seriously: read a handful of yoga blogs and tell me that it isn't like reading fucking headlines on Yahoo news.
And I'm not interested in claiming that I do better or more authentic or blah blah blah, this is better than that, let's make a whole shitload of binaries so we can create more confusion for ourselves in all domains.
That's what the title of this is about.
This is the attraction of the afternoon hours in the Sweeney immersion program: three hours a day for six days on chakras, subtle body and the relationship between asana/meditation and "the rest of life" (my paraphrase).
That's what I try to write here, it's the only thing I think is probably worth writing. And on that level, I suppose I consider my theory and teaching life to be the same as asana/meditation. I take these "knots in the cord," these energetic centers, and I try to feel out the whole rope, or in some cases I react to the condition of the rope versus what or how I wish the rope was, and I think that all of my struggles, overlaid with concepts and overthinking as they all are, are more interesting than some quote-fest of someone I never saw say the things I never heard.
A recipe, a request:
Please, HuffPo gang, quoters of the quotables, passers on of what someone said rather than how you felt, please dig into the moment and give us a little blood. Just a little, we're not vampires. A sudden kitchen nip on a knuckle, you're not even sure how it happened. A scrape on the elbow from the textured climbing wall; you never even felt it. Put us in the space just for a second. Tell us about the humidity of the room or the color of the walls. Tell us about the disposition of your sit bones while the quotables were spoken.
Give us a body.
This is why I find it so hard to write about the happy hours with the child, because it's one-sided to do that; it's the "parental obligation." We make a ramp out of the couch cushions and play "get me feet" as someone runs by (first I had the capture-feet, then he did). We go outside and water the plants, the rocks, the back steps, the sidewalk, and everything else. We play "predator dino eats Dinosaur Train!" We do all this and hundreds more things. We make "abstract paintings" (which from a Canadian TV show he already knows to define as "use all the colors!") with watercolor and markers. We cuddle in the bed by request (when he says "cuddle" he means, put an arm over me while I go to sleep in my room, and he gives directions, in case you're not draping the right way or far enough). He complains about The Cat in the Hat because "fish can't talk" and then I have to defend it in terms of fish being like humans and books being able to make anything happen. You constantly have to come up with language like that. The questions are unreal.
But at the same time I don't want to "counter" it with some "fair and balanced" bullshit about how he gets overtired after 9 pm and won't sleep for an hour no matter what kind of fun and joy he was having at 8:47.
And this is the same thing: I do not in the LEAST want any of my discussions about being a parent to be DIDACTIC, to aim to give you some lesson or some pithy "parenting nugget." I'd rather hang myself. Most of the affect, the "cloud of sensation" of parenting, at least in the early days, is struggle: with time, with selfhood, with sacrifice, with relationship, with managing the whole parenting shebang in America where there is no support system for parents. A brilliant piece not long ago by Katha Pollitt got ALL OVER THAT, linking everything from the idiotic "attachment parenting" fire-ants-in-your-pants piece by Time magazine, to hard-intellectual French feminism.
It's very much NOT "feel who you are," it's not about actualization.
Parenting in my experience isn't about becoming someone, it's about literal becoming, the atomization of past selves and all solidity, it's about becoming dust, a cloud, electrons. This is why it is so terribly, terribly difficult to write about, and the easiest avenue has always been "The person I was, suffers horribly from this!" That's easy, because it's the refusal to fall in with sudden impermanence. That can be written about for EVER.
But not to say anything more profound.
It's like I said to J probably a year ago: "I can describe this, but I can't think with it." She said, "Well then don't." I said, "Well yeah, but see I think with EVERYTHING; my whole UNIVERSE exists so that I can think with it. It is HOW I DO BUSINESS."
And what it's slowly becoming, which has been an odd mix of interpersonal-relationship stuff and academic stuff (those were never as far apart in me as one might wish they were) is AFFECT. This business not about emotions, but the "cloud," the sensations, lines and forces, that underlie emotions, that in a way make up reality.
It's like this:
There's me and you, me and the painting or the video, me and the class, always here and there, this and that.
Then there's affect, which is the whole set of forces and powers that exist between you, me and the thing, and everything and all of us. Very "Yoda."
Where is the relationship between me and you and me and the thing? In the video? In my eyes? In the hair rising on the back of my neck? Where is the relationship between me and you? In the language? In the eye contact? Where? What is relating? What is sensing? What is it to know something or even for there to BE A THING?
(phenomenologists know ALL of this, but they stop with the "flesh of the world," which affect says isn't flesh but is just force line and sensation)
This is affect. Is my hand me? Then why can it feel itself when it clenches? Am I in my hand or in my eyes or am I the "whole organism?" Then how does J feel anger come off me forty feet away? Am I that invisible emotion, too? Or is she her "radar field" of detection? How big is my body? What the fuck IS a body anyway?
Affect stops you from thinking in things, you just can't do it. It all becomes what art people call TIME-BASED.
Or, in the Buddhist parlance, those things aren't permanent, don't give pleasure, and aren't you.
I think this too goes to my distaste (hah, putting it lightly there are we?) for the Easternish "yoga nugget." It doesn't talk about the West, where we live. "Fifteen things for you to give up" and one of them is "striving." Yeah ok, sure, write me a freaking novel about how I'm going to make a New Year's resolution to "strive less." And everyone clicks the "like" button not because they CAN strive less but because it sounds good. "I'd vote for that!" Or no wait, maybe you can get a prescription or buy it on a supermarket shelf. Purity and enlightenment, let me get my checkbook!
But at the same time you can't just toss the history-and-legend baby out with the "yoga is being motivated by the West now" bathwater. Alanna.
So here is to time-based life. Or as people who are alive call it, life.