Movies – Sex vs Violence

This is a response to an article about how sex in movies is the biggest concern for parents and not the violence in movies

Of course it is the biggest concern. How scary is it when two people who are mutually attracted to one another get it on!? Oh dear! As opposed to – of course – when two people who mutually despise one another get to rip each other’s heads off.

It makes sense when you want to see life in black and white, good and bad.

It’s not the violence that people respond to – it’s the aftermath; how good it feels to come out victorious from a seemingly and albeit blind, righteous battle – seeing the bloody heads of your enemy strewn about – it’s a wonder, the heroes of movies don’t look into the camera and say without any irony, “I did that.”

What violence in movies represents (or more the point, our acceptance and love of violence in the movies) is the shadow of our culture. 

Our society and the people in it (that means YOU) – point the finger at other cultures and exclaim that they are the ones who are barbaric or evil and without god! They are the ones who are killing each other. But you forget to look at yourselves. Here in America/Canada, you are just as blood-thirsty as the next guy or culture. Don’t fool yourselves.

Every one of us needs to be the “hero” of our own story. It’s human nature – fine. What isn’t fine is not knowing that you are just as “good” or just as “bad” as anyone else in this world. You are just as imperfect as the rest of us. Without knowing this, you can not look at someone else without making them your enemy – and that goes for those who are close to you or those whom you don’t know.

You make the righteous argument that you decide what is right and what is wrong because of some arbitrary notion that somehow in some other universe, you were “chosen” to do so. You think you are the ones who are the purveyors of justice and you get to hold your righteous indignation over the heads of all others while you sit pretty in your ivory towers looking down, way down on everyone else.

You, my dear fellow human beings, are not better and no worse than the guy/guys who gunned down/blew up/mowed down/blew to smithereens people the other day, last week, two months ago, a year ago, 3 years ago, 5 years ago, etc. etc. etc. because they also thought that what they were doing was righteous and just – whatever was going on in their heads.

Violence, contrary to your belief, no matter the cause, is NOT a virtuous act. As much as, keeping your daughters locked up and keeping sex out of the lives of living breathing human beings is not a virtuous act. God doesn’t want this – the powers that be do. The fight between good and evil is all made up in your head and was planted there by those who wanted to make you afraid. First it was the church, the clergy and those powers, and now it’s your conservative powers – who want to keep you afraid and angry and righteously indignant and armed.

The feelings that rise up in you about sex has been planted (again by the same powers) in you that they are bad – why? Because it serves them to do so. Feelings of sex are natural. They raise up out of attraction, desire, and natural body functions. Feelings of violence raise up out of hatred for the unknown and a fictional enemy that has been made up – depending on who/what the powers that be want to vanquish. Violence is not a natural body function. It comes from the intellectualization of fear.

So those of you who don’t like sex in movies – it’s not about the sex itself – it’s about the fear that it brings up and the feelings associated with that fear. That fear doesn’t feel good so you blame sex for it and therefore make it the culprit for your imagined fear. And you feel violent against it. Anytime you feel you need to protect yourself (through the proxy of your children), there always has to be violence behind it.  And there is the violence again. The thing that you are more comfortable with because somehow it makes you feel more virtuous.

Parents are afraid more often than not and put it on their children – if you don’t believe me, ask the millennials.

And sex in movies brings up that feeling. Fear brings on feelings of protection which ultimately begets feelings of violence. Most people feel this way most of the time. So when violence is in movies, it justifies your own feelings of violence – because ultimately in movies, the violence is virtuous (good against evil) and therefore just. You feel better about your own feelings.

It’s terribly basic and frankly frustrating to a person like me, who can see through all the stories that we are told – what to fear, what not to fear.

I do fear one thing though, that this shadow: the fear that people are not talking about, the hatred that is in their hearts; is not being looked at.

People’s hearts have hardened in the last few decades – because people are afraid. That is what makes me sad. Their hearts are only open to the easiest things to love in this world: puppies, funny cat vids, cute children saying cute things, really nice people, beautiful people – those are the easy things to love. How about trying to not fear and love those who are really difficult to love? It doesn’t mean you have to accept what they do. That goes for those you love – you don’t have to swallow the kolaid. But when we can see that violence is never called for – that love is the only answer, then and only then can we be free.

This is in response to this article:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/movie-ratings-sex-remains-top-845507

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Learning from Ourselves… Injury in Yoga

This blog post is in response to this article which was making the rounds on Tumblr. It’s about avoiding injury in yoga. yada yada yada. Yes. I have a fair amount of dismissiveness toward those who insist that we be careful all the time – what are you my mom!? Sure go easy when you’ve never done something before and so on that’s just common sense (as someone said in response to this article on Tumblr).

But I say that sometimes (when it comes to yoga especially), it’s a good thing…

Image

What follows is the conversation.

me: If you look at the Pema quote …

“We regard discomfort in any form as bad news. But for practitioners or spiritual warriors – people who have a certain hunger to know what is true – feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back.”
– Pema

… you would understand that injury (pain) is sometimes a big part of the whole practice (not just asana but includes it). Sometimes the body needs it. Sometimes the mind needs it… if you’d like to know more, ask me a question! 🙂 Peace! #1barefootgirl

#playitbackward: Injury is not the same as pain, but I would like to know more!

Me: Yes. True the kind of injury I’m talking about is not just pain. What I’ve found in my years of practice of asana that an injury can be one of two things (but is not exclusive to these two):

1. when I say injury is for the mind what I mean by that is it reflects outwardly what we are manifesting psychically. The mind has its own agenda and sometimes the body can’t keep up. We are told to push, to not give up, etc. (not in yoga necessarily – but there are some…) in our lives and unconsciously we bring this to our practice. A lot of people think that they can overcome their “egos” easily by just practicing asana or sitting in meditation but sometimes these are exactly the places where the ego will assert itself. Strongly sometimes. You can not eradicate the ego entirely and it’s very good at playing tricks. Injury is a sign that there is something you’re doing in your body that needs to be listened to (body/mind) that the ego is refusing to acknowledge. For example: I was teaching this woman for the longest time – good student and very flexible (naturally). She complained about lower back problems all the time that were so specific that it could only be coming from the way she did forward bends. I adjusted, I explained, I pleaded with her but to no avail. Every time she would go into the forward bend, she would over extend herself (I can explain how some other time).

What it would take for her to be deeply in her forward bend without creating “injury” are two things:

one – She had to change her mind/ego about what sensation in her body is telling her that it feels good. Her “feel good” sensation in her forward bend was telling her that she was deep in her bend but was neglecting or overriding the feeling of pain in her low back. So every time she came out of it she was reminded of the pain.

Two: If then she changed her approach to the posture and were to pull back and start to work into the posture enhancing protective measures for her back which are basically muscle engagement issues (she had weak abs and so on) and pivoting issues, she would have slowly worked the bend by letting the posture unfold from the very top of the posture. She would have enlisted her body/mind consciousness better and she would work into the bend more along the lines of her body’s reality rather than what her mind was used to which was her “chronic” body and therefore into the injury.

So here I’m talking about the mind latching onto a sensation that is only part of the story. But the ego is satisfied because on the outside it looks like (and feels like) a very deep forward bend. What I always tell my students is to look for the depth of the posture not just the surface sensations and then I try to teach that through meditation and deep asana work. In other words, work on the body/mind connection deeply.

We throw around the phrase body/mind a lot but most do not know what it is because the work is not forthcoming. It takes a great deal of sincerity and surrender. IMHO.

2. When I say the injury is good for the body I mean that the body has chronic holds and old injuries that sometimes can only be dealt with by breaking it apart first. Sometimes the injury is in a place in your body where there was deep scarring, early (sometimes in vitro) injury which needs release which manifests in “injury”. We talk about injury in negative terms always and never really talk in terms of the body actually healing itself by readjusting itself or releasing itself and so we call these “injuries”. Perhaps the word is inaccurate for these types of “body manifestations”.

Let me give you an example: I had been practicing and teaching asana for years. My body is such that it takes a long time to unravel into a posture any of them no matter what. So I work diligently day and night to unlock the mystery of my body. Because of my body’s reluctance to open up without creating a lot of pain for me (at night I would wake with excruciating pain in my hips and legs), I would be very clear (cultivated slowly through my own practice) as to how I was moving and not to move anything that didn’t need to move. One day I was working on Upavistha Konasana – simple right. But I ripped the tendons and leg out of the hip socket. I don’t think I’m strong enough especially in a seated posture to pull anything out so securely in place, but it came out. And the reason, I think, was because the femur head was in the wrong place in the first place. Forever I had pain in that leg and the knee. I didn’t run because of it. My lotus sucked because of it. I had trouble in most postures because of it. After the “injury”, it took 3 years to recover (I lost all the forward bend capability in my body) but as I taught and practiced I was very aware of the injury and moved in a very methodical exacting way. For the three years, I became acutely aware of how I moved my body especially in forward bends but also in other postures. After healing, I got the worst hamstring pulls, still do every once in a while, and my body still took time to move and advance in postures. But, there was a huge change in the sensation in my hip socket and leg. It felt looser and there was actual sensation deep in the tissues so I could finally develop more body/mind. What I learned was that the injury actually readjusted my leg in my hip socket. So my forward bends became deeper, and especially my body/mind deepened. I move my leg from a different place in my body now because of the injury – in a good way.

I am not saying we should all go out and injury ourselves for the sake of self-discovery. But there are times of injury that can’t and shouldn’t be avoided just because that’s the place where the real learning is…

(…and that’s why you can’t separate asana practice from the rest of its counterparts… without the spiritual aspect yes then injury is just about being an idiot…)

Hope this helps… 🙂 Peace! 1barefootgirl.

About Forgiveness…

I won’t watch the video. From the description – I get it. I get that the guy acted like a hateful person. I don’t need to see it to get me all incensed. If you wish to watch, it is here (see link below). Also, in the link read the post in which the author tells of her reaction to the vid.

This is my response to the author of the post, who brought this to all of our attention, and I thank her.

My Response

It’s About Your Own Psyche

It’s really not even about “forgiveness” is it?… You can’t “forgive” acts like this.

It’s really about delving into your own psyche and letting go of the ideas that everyone should be the same, think the same, act the same. There are always going to be things that people do that we can’t and will never understand.

Our First Response Is Out Of Fear

I think our first reaction to these things is really to protect ourselves. We feel for the animal… or another person… yes, but I feel that the initial reaction is from a deeply seated Fear around Trust, or the lack of it. How can you trust a person who does this to an animal? The answer is simple – trust yourself. But it’s not that simple, is it? – because there are times when you are surprised by your own thoughts or feelings – feeling real hate and violence toward this man, for instance – closely followed by the need to change him (and others like him). Change him by hating him? By punishing him (which is necessary because actions have consequences)?

Getting In Touch With Your Own Shadow

Throughout my spiritual process, I’ve taken on the task to become ever present to the shadow side of myself. When I see that I have the capacity to be angry, to hate, to wish someone ill, to get excited, to be kind, nice (shadow can be both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ qualities), I can see it in others. In seeing the ‘dark’ within myself, I stop feeling victimized by the ‘dark’ in others. My work is to act in the clarity of seeing the entire range of feelings and personalities that can manifest within me and cultivate self-knowledge and self-acceptance.

If you’re always trying to see the ‘light’ in yourselves (and in others), you will never see the human capacity for the opposite, and that can paralyze us when we come face to face with the shadow (or what people like to call ‘evil’ or the ‘devil’). Always cultivating the ‘light’ (beauty, kindness, etc.), doesn’t help us deal with the ‘darkness’ in others (or within ourselves). We are surprised by it. We are never ready.

Balance Is Key

Everyone has the capacity for balance; everything on an even keel, expressing equally all aspects of ourselves in a balanced and healthy way. This man unfortunately did not express in a balanced way. His hate and loathing for animal rights activists out weighed his capacity for love. He acted out of fear. That is sad.

As humans, we act as we act. We all act differently according to external stimuli and the internal filter. The guy in the video has no more or less capacity for balance than you or me.

It is the nature of being human to have both sides (non-dualism sees all acts as just that – neither this nor that, good nor bad. It is how we respond to these acts that become the ‘defining’ instrument with which we judge). It’s actually normal to have the range of emotion, of thought. What isn’t normal is when one is much stronger than the other – when one is so out of wack that there is no sense of the other: There is no balance.

Be Your Own Beacon

Balance yourself in this way. Accept that you have the capacity for all sorts of feelings and see them for what they are. You don’t need to act in one extreme or the other – as this man did. You will act according to your own heart which has the capacity to accept all. Be brave. And admit to being angry when you’re angry, sad when you’re sad, afraid when you’re afraid. There is no need to hide from these. And you don’t need to think about “forgiveness”, because in the balance, love and compassion will be there – despite the feelings for retaliation and fear toward those who perpetuate these acts of violence.

Peace! Christine

A Response to A Video About A Guy Shooting A Horse

Yoga Needs No Embellishment

Yoga Needs No Embellishment

This photo is all about admiring yoga (postures) or at least the body that’s doing them. The photographer states: I think yoga is beautiful.

What a revelation!

Superficial Understanding of Yoga
My only question is: if these same (there are a few pictures) Yoga Asana would be performed on dank dark piss filled corners of the city and by ugly people if you’d still think it was beautiful?

This is an important distinction, because if you think of yoga (asana) as pictures of beautiful people/bodies wearing beautiful clothing doing the pose (beautifully) on a beach or a mountain top or some lovely place then you’ve misconstrued the true beauty of yoga. If you can not appreciate it for what it is in your own body, heart and mind then you have not deepened your understanding. This is not yoga you are seeing (it looks like it because of the poses), but it is more like the sugar coating of your own missed understanding of yoga which remains superficial.

Seeing the Difference
It is in my mind vital that we distinguish between our own need to flaunt and perform not only our expression of our bodies but also our hearts in this way that is about – the look-at-me-approval train, and to perform a sincere practice where you get sweaty, breathe hard, falter in a posture, make faces without knowing it, and get injured sometimes. Yoga’s beauty emerges from the inside as we have good practice days and not so good. As we take Yoga out onto the street and respond within our capabilities as a human who practices yoga every other day.

Yoga expresses itself more subtly and more privately. It is not as conspicuous as when it is staged with all this stuff and noise around.

What are you hiding from?
I wonder from what you are hiding. Is it your own pain? Pain of realization that you might never do a yoga posture perfectly (only an issue of performance), or pain of your body which never goes away, or the pain of realization that to deepen your practice and heart, you must forego the ego’s insistence to be admired. What is it then?

Yoga is Beautiful and Ugly, Painful and Freeing…
Yoga needs no embellishment like how this photographer (and many others! Self portraits – you know who you are) presents it here. There is no there there in the expression, just performance and staging. Try not to stage it next time. Watch it unfold and look for it below the surface. If you’re looking for the beauty, you’ll find a gold mine!

Photo by: Robert Sturman

Happy Happy Joy Joy…

It is difficult these days to teach and discuss ‘traditional’ yoga – like Ashtanga, Iyengar, etc…because of this notion that only if you feel happy, elated, and bolstered, empowered during your yoga class are you doing something worthwhile. The whole idea that if you’re not feeling that way, then you are somehow still “burdened by the pressures of everyday life” as one yoga (Anusara) teacher put it; that by virtue of the style of yoga that is perhaps more difficult during class somehow does not let you “rediscover that belief in infinite possibility” (as another teacher put it), you are not doing yourself any favors. I say – bullshit.

It is my experience of these types of teachers from this particular style of yoga that they are convinced that they are the only ones who can give you a warm and fuzzy feeling (and that that is the only target on which we are focused and which makes doing yoga “worthwhile”) and you should therefore do nothing else. Anusara is a thing with which those that teach it and practice it and are ardent supporters of it use to judge all else in the yoga world (OK – so do teachers and practitioners of Iyengar and Ashtanga – whatever). My point is that it is my experience that it is the Anusara practice (John Friend) that has USURPED, hijacked the HEART FROM ALL THE OTHER YOGA PRACTICES. As a heart-felt, sincere, mindful practitioner and teacher, I do not appreciate it.

The Heart is in ALL Traditions of Yoga Practice (including the Asana Practices of Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Meditation, Satsang, etc.)

I am so tired of how Anusara and all its followers take away the joy that is inherent in the practice of yoga in ALL its traditions – even if it is not “playtime” in an Ashtanga class.

Truly, we are not kids any more and that notion that we must somehow get back to that, is a fallacy. It’s steering those people who want to deepen and give birth to their true selves in the wrong direction. As ‘adults’ we know too much to become children again. And yes, we have a lot more responsibilities to actually be able to act like one and get away with it. But through the difficulties of life, we have a choice to make – either we hide behind the tricks of the ego acting like we are spirit which only accepts ‘goofing off’ or ‘prancing about’ as a way to be ‘happy’. Or we can accept ourselves and others and all our foibles by cultivating a no-nonsense, present centered consciousness which sees things for what they are and in that find the “burden of the pressures of everyday life” lifting in the face of the truth. That is freedom. In becoming unburdened this way, we find true freedom, with that we are ‘happy’.

The Way to Happiness

Unburdening yourself of the constraints of an ego that can’t face ‘ordinary’, sometimes ‘boring’ moments is the work of true yoga and is made accessible by embracing all aspects of yoga not only asana. Meditation, reading thoughtful spiritual books (not only the Power of Now), going to a really good therapist that recognizes Spirit as a part of our worldly experience, etc., all help to open you up to those “infinite possibilities” beyond the pacification and gratification of our ego-ic nature.

What is really scary and really exciting about it all is that it takes years! Not months. Really, the work to unravel you; what you’ve built up over the years to protect you: your defenses, your opinions, your preferences all must dissolve to make Yoga happen and it’s quite a journey. You don’t get rid of the ego entirely (see my other writings). You need your ego to survive.

So for the first real step: cultivate awareness. How you do that by convincing yourself that there is nothing you need to work on, is beyond me. Somehow though, it is thought that if you admit you have things to work on, you are admitting to being irreversibly flawed. That there is something ‘wrong’ with you. That you are unworthy of love and attention because you are not perfect. That, my friends, is the first thing to work on. It is not awful to admit to yourself that “I can be a real bitch/bastard sometimes”. It is actually pretty freeing. And it’s scary at the same time. Still, just because you grow to accept that about yourself doesn’t mean you go around being one. The point is to go toward the unpleasantness, toward the things you’re afraid of, the dislikes, the repulsions. This work is not dwelling on the negative, as the New Agers fear (something else to look into) nor is it holding on for dear life to the positive, the light that everyone seems to be seeking.  You may find as some have often done so, is that the thing you fear the most is your beauty or your talent, etc. As human beings, we don’t only hide the stuff of anger, jealousy, envy. Go, see what you can learn about yourself.

We Are All Perfect In Our Imperfection

There are many aspects of ourselves we don’t know and won’t know if the idea of admitting to our flaws repulses us. So the next step is acceptance of yourself. Can you accept that you are not perfect? And that Perfection IS in the acceptance of all that is you! When you accept that can you accept that people aren’t perfect. That means everyone. If you can open your heart to that then you are well on your way.

Surround yourself with those who know that it is not readily accessible in just a few months. When you are with others who know, then when your ego flares up because it is fighting for its life, those around will show you the way to go deeper. Trust them even if what they say ‘hurts’ you or ‘insults’ you – that’s a good way to tell your ego has a hold of you.

The Playground That Is Yoga

There’s nothing wrong with being playful. In fact, all of this is play in one way or another. The key is to pair your asana practice with counseling, reading and meditation. Ask questions and accept guidance. Be wary of those who tell you to ignore or forget about the dark and move only into the light. Be wary of classes which only stress to appease your tendency to look for distractions and your ego-ic nature’s incessant whining. And as well, be wary of those who say yoga is about being stern. Even the most disciplined class of Ashtanga, practiced with an open heart can be light-hearted and very loving.

Joy Joy

Truly the joy comes from within – and when you and only you are ready to express it, will you find “joy” in your practice. No one can give you that and show you it. The teacher is just there to give you the practice – meaning the practice is what teaches not the teacher. The moment a teacher really feels that within their bones that’s the minute they’re a good teacher.

The wonder of it all is that when you do not hide from yourself or others, there is joy. When you can stay focussed and present in the most difficult, challenging posture (for you) or situation, there is elation. When you can accept guidance and assistance (teacher and student) without expressing arrogance, there is love. When you can look at yourself without criticism, there is peace. Let YOGA teach you this. Then life will be so much fun!

This was inspired by this blog post: http://yogaspy.com/2011/07/22/hooping-and-the-hybridization-of-yoga-in-america/#comment-4309

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore (well I’m mildly perturbed…haha)

Most of the time when I search for yoga sites for someone to follow because there is a resonance with their approach to the yoga practice: that, it is true and unencumbered, I can’t find any. Pages upon pages are full of people doing ‘stunt’ yoga like that’s where it’s at or all about.

I’m getting really tired of it. You’re just a bunch of showoffs. Really. Big deal, you can bend over backward and kiss your own ass. Big deal that you can put your leg behind your head. Big deal that you can do a handstand! Any circus freak can do what you are constantly bombarding us with on your websites and your blogs. And I don’t think they’re (the circus freaks) doing “yoga”. They’re creating a spectacle that is the circus.

Yes, I can do most of it. There are still things I struggle with daily. But that’s what teaches me.

Yes – it looks pretty. BIG DEAL. Do you even know what yoga is? I don’t think you get it. Yeah yeah, you’re so impressive, that you can do that. Whoop! But that’s what it’s really all about for you isn’t it? You crave for attention. For people out in the world to look at you and say, oh, I want to follow you. You’re gorgeous or remarkable (because they are saying to themselves, I can’t do that – so you must be great.) And stop blogging the perfect beautiful photo of yoga. Take a picture of yourself doing a pose. Yeah! That’s part of the teaching. Would you dare to show yourself in a not so perfect pretty pose? Would you? The real learning of yoga is to get over that…as a individual, as a business, and as a culture.

Show me you’re not perfect. If you want to keep showing those pristine shots on your website, then that’s fine just don’t call it YOGA! It’s not yoga.  For crying out loud. Enough already! It’s fooling around with what looks like yoga postures. And please don’t write me about how a yogini wouldn’t get mad. I am channeling ‘Kali”. You know Kali – the hindu goddess of creation and destruction! Sometimes things must be destroyed to create something new. And it’s about time!

Please send me your not-so-perfect-yoga-asana-pic, I’d love to see it!