Yoga

The Devaluation of Truth

“Cosmic Intelligence has given us a will, so that we can make it the instrument of our higher nature by placing it at the service of a high ideal. The first step is to understand and apply some essential truths. Once you have understood an essential truth, use your will to put it into practice, in the knowledge that this is the only way to understand it fully. It is easy to state truths; anybody can go and find them in the works of a few sages and then repeat them parrot-fashion. By doing, so they may gain the respect of a few people blind enough not to see how ignorant and weak they really are. But deceiving the blind is not a very great achievement! In any case, there are others, who see things clearly and are not so easily fooled: the beings of light in the invisible world. In fact, it is these entities whose respect we must earn, and we will earn it by applying the truths the initiates and sages reveal to us. These truths are true weapons, and we will never find better ones for winning life’s battles. But we need an arm to be able to use them – that is, the will to put them into practice.”

Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Chomsky and David Barsamian

Years ago, I remember watching an interview with Professor Noam Chomsky with journalist David Barsamian. I can’t find the clip in question but the gist of it was that Chomsky was saying that most people in academia and research these days, professors, researchers, scientists, are in fact professional liars, they’re actually trained to be as such. At the time, I didn’t and couldn’t understand what he was saying given that the way academia works is that research papers are submitted for publication for respected journals and usually have to go through a rigorous process of peer-review and questioning, which is usually meant to flush out any inconsistencies prior to publication.

It is only recently I’ve come to understand  that truth has a relatively insignificant value in public intellectual life, in academic life, in literary life. Ideology matters much more. Personal comfort matters more. Careerism matters more.  As long as you can prove things in theory and on paper, you’re golden but never mind how those theories may play out in the real world or who it may hurt or what kind of havoc it can create it its wake once they are put into practice. Economists in particular  use a word, “externalities” in their models to account and justify some of these unforeseen damages but yet they do fuck-all about it just as long as they can get those additional letters behind their name, get a cushy job in academia or consulting and watch the numbers increase in their bank account and train other students to think and act like them, preferably using their own research and ideas to buffer up their own legacy.

This is really encapsulated in Julien Benda’s book, “The Treason of the Intellectuals”, which is based in this binary notion that there are two competing sets of values in the world: fame and fortune on the one side, truth and justice on the other side. The gist of Benda’s book is, the more committed you are to truth and justice, the less you’re going to see of fame and fortune and the more committed you are to fame and fortune, the less you will see of truth and justice.
Sometimes you will see those with fame and fortune try to pursue truth and justice to devastating effect and they end up being blacklisted like babe-alicious actor and activist Viggo Mortensen.
King Aragorn has become a silver fox. Mortensen went on the Charlie Rose Show once with a T-shirt emblazoned with "No Blood for Oil" - afterwards, his Hollywood career stalled with the exception of working with visionary director David Cronenberg.

King Aragorn has become a silver fox. All this and a conscience too (Le sigh). Mortensen went on the Charlie Rose Show once with a T-shirt emblazoned with “No Blood for Oil” – afterwards, his mainstream Hollywood career stalled with the exception of working with visionary director David Cronenberg.

Other times, it just comes off as disingenuous, fake and trite like Princess Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent effort to feed her family on $29 a week on a food stamp challenge… and threw in the towel after 4 days. It would seem to me you’re better off pursuing truth and justice and in the course of doing so, you may end up with the fame and fortune later on…but there is no guarantee of that either.
Gwynnie-poo's $29 haul which was supposed to feed her family for a week. Do you really need 7 limes?

Gwynnie-poo’s $29 haul which was supposed to feed her family for a week. Do you really need 7 limes?

I remember in the early 1990s, you could only get Chomsky books via special order from his publisher Black Rose Books at anarchist bookshops. Nowadays, there are whole shelves devoted to his titles in mainstream bookshops and people like Radiohead have his books on their tour buses. It’s been interesting to watch the pendulum shift.
Yeah, I get that "orange is the new black" but seriously, you should be wearing orange in a prison Hillary, not as a pantsuit.

Yeah, I get that “orange is the new black” but seriously, you should be wearing orange in a prison Hillary, not as a pantsuit.

I see this dichotomy now over, and over and over again in practically every sphere of modern-day life. Whether it is politicians with checkered pasts making bids for leadership like Hillary Clinton, shady but highly influential academics (and their lesser-known lackeys) with very specific agendas like White Anglo-Saxon financial and militaristic supremacy at all costs or yoga celebrities who are suddenly doing a 180 degree turn to be more “diversity-sensitive” when they themselves first perpetuated those very unattainable models of beauty and fitness and body image acceptance in the first place which now need to be dismantled completely in certain cases.
Not a lot of women will ever have a body and ability like this, with yoga or not.

Not a lot of women will ever have a body and ability like this, with yoga or not.

(I’m talking to you Kathryn Budig – you don’t go from modeling toeSox butt-naked as a white, thin, super-bendy blonde California woman to suddenly being the champion of  “loving your body” and “diversity” for people who are anything but white, thin, super-bendy blonde and from California. That’s almost as bad as when Christopher Hitchens went from Noam Chomsky to George W. Bush  in the course of one day during 9-11. You only jump ship like that if you’re already looking for an “out” or if you’re an ideological opportunist to begin with and wanting to join a certain bandwagon because it is popular or lucrative.)
The astrological climate suggests that this is going to be a relatively calm, drama-free spring and summer. Usually when things are calm and easy, people usually get a bit lax and put their guards down. With all these upcoming elections in the US, Canada and the UK, in fact I would argue it might even be advisable to strengthen them up a bit. I think most politicians are full of rot anyway but I can’t shake this feeling that many of us are going to be asked in one form or another, in our own lives, what we personally stand for and value. Is it truth and justice (which will be the hard road) or the easier route of fame and fortune?
Your call, folks.
Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

No Sleep till Brooklyn…sorta

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

Like I had posted last weekend, I attended the Brooklyn talk “New Directions in North American Yoga” which Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey gave.
The talk was quite insightful and I pretty much agree with everything that Ivan Nahem wrote of the discussion over at Yoga Teacher Magazine. One point which was touched on in passing and I think would have been nice to discuss was the issue of the cultural appropriation of yoga but unfortunately time did not permit it. I also think it would have been interesting to see a wider discussion of yoga outside of North America but like the title indicated, it was a discussion of yoga within the North American context only. With global power and economic dynamics changing, this century will easily belong to Asia. New, emerging and insanely monied financial power centers are flexing their muscles and popping up like Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai and Mumbai and the other BRIC economies which leads me to believe that the days of North America setting the global “beat” on cultural issues are not indefinite…and that goes for yoga as well.
The old learning models are going.

The old learning models are going.

Towards the end of the talk Carol talked about the breakdown of the guru/disciple model of learning citing scandals like Osho, Bikram Choudhury and John Friend and instead suggested that maybe the next model will be one of networking, like a web, where disciples/students learn from various teachers depending on their specialty or focus. I would just add that the web of learning is now global as are the options and any discussion of a network of learning or idea-sharing needs to include that as well.
Learning different things from different teachers in a network.

Learning different things from different teachers in a network.

As for New York City itself, I have this strange relationship with that city.
On one hand NYC is everything you ever heard about and more. It really is senses working overtime to paraphrase that old XTC song. Bigger, faster, richer and just more (add adjective here)er  than you can imagine.
A pug dressed up as Scarlett O'Hara, at  the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

A pug dressed up as Scarlett O’Hara, at the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade

I love to visit, my usual stomping grounds are the West Village, East Village especially around St. Mark’s/Tompkins Square Park and Morningside Heights. NYC along with San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, is probably the best place on Earth for serious people-watching. It’s practically a microcosm of Planet Earth, people from all corners of the globe concentrated in this one city, all shapes, sizes, colors, political affiliations, spiritual affiliations, etc.  Just think of the most obscure category you can come up with like “Nestorian Christians” or “Yazidis” and I’ll bet money that they probably have their own neighborhood somewhere in the greater NYC area.
New Yorkers during their annual No Pants Subway ride

New Yorkers during their annual No Pants Subway ride

As much as I love the excitement, the vibrancy and the mind-boggling amount of things to take in, it’s not a place I don’t think I can ever live in. The stress of living there is just unbelievable and you see it quite clearly etched into the faces of the people there. Just because of the cost of living, you must have your game face on all the time, you have to be “ON” all the time and depending in what industry you work in, you have to be either assertive or flat-out aggressive, you have no choice or else you’re going to be flattened out.
Crowded-Subway-Station
I’m a real stickler for vibes and energetic interference and just because of the densely populated nature of NYC, you constantly have someone in your face all the time. It’s really not surprising why yoga studios and day spas offering massage therapy sit practically on every corner. You need them just to offset the insane amounts of stress which living in NYC generates.
I mean there are a few other equally frantic cities like London, Paris, Delhi and Istanbul but these are also very old, ancient cities. They have spots, usually of spiritual significance, which are linked to the far, distant past which you can easily escape to and it is very easy to slip into a deeper meditation or lose your sense of time and experience a deeper reality in those places.
The Roman Cistern in Istanbul

The underground Roman Cistern in Istanbul

New York, like Toronto or Sydney is a New World city. They are very young, they don’t have that link to our far past and quite often those spiritual spaces they create, in my experience, somehow feel synthetic and not nearly as grounded or organic as more ancient, older places do.
The Cloisters, part of the Met Museum.

The Cloisters, part of the Met Museum

I’m going to close off with a quote from Aivanhov and perfectly captures the conundrum of anyone who is faced with the choice of having a lot of money and accumulating things while losing their sense of joy or having little but remaining at peace despite it all. I’m sure everyone as well as New Yorkers deal with this all the time.

“Having a taste for things is so much more important than owning them – This is why, for those who lack nothing, it is better if money remains of secondary concern. You can see what life is like for so many business people – all that time they spend in the office and at meetings.  When they leave, it is so they can race around from one end of the globe to the other without seeing anything of the regions they pass through or of the people who live there. And that is how their sensitivity to what is beautiful and poetic in life eventually becomes dulled. So, what was the point of amassing a fortune? They cannot even enjoy the advantages it gives them, as they have destroyed that something in them that gives the most exquisite flavour to things, events and people. And that is what is sad: to have the possibility of acquiring anything you want but to feel no joy from it, except the vanity of owning it.  So if you have to choose between these two situations – owning a lot but no longer being able to appreciate it, or owning very little and keeping your taste for it – choose the latter, and the smallest thing will give you joy.”

– Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
Categories: Ascension, New Energy Centers, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Travels, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Yoga Awesomeness going down this week in NYC!

shift

To those of you who follow this blog because of the issues of yoga, accessibility and BS gurus – Listen Up!

Roseanne Harvey who runs the renowned blog, “It’s All Yoga, Baby!” and noted yoga writer  Carol Horton Ph.D are hosting two (2) discussion sessions on yoga. According to the Abhyasa Yoga Center event page,

“Yoga today is changing – and fast. Once-powerful gurus are falling. New alternatives are snowballing. Why are these changes happening? What do they matter?

Join Carol Horton and Roseanne Harvey, co-editors of 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice, for a provocative discussion of the current paradigm shift in yoga culture. Key topics include 1) representing the “yoga body,”  2) re-envisioning the “guru,” and 3) revitalizing Karma yoga. Come add your voice to what promises to be an important conversation on the cutting edge of thoughtful yoga practice today.

This event will follow a participatory lecture/discussion format and includes no asana. No preregistration required.

Cost: $20 or pay-what-you-can (nobody turned away for lack of funds)”

Monday, May 19th
7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Abhyasa Yoga Center
628 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tuesday, May 20th
7:00 – 9:30 p.m.
tascbar
309 East 108th St #1A
New York, NY 10029

Same topics will be under discussion each evening but it will be happening at two different locations.  The awesome Yogadork is hosting Monday night’s session in Brooklyn and prominent yoga blogger J. Brown is hosting the East Harlem session on Tuesday night.

If you are in the NYC/Brooklyn area and if these issues mean something to you, I suggest moseying on down to add your voice to the discussion. It would seem both anonymous and non-anonymous bloggers are venturing out  to take part in the action. I’m gonna be at the Brooklyn jam if anyone wants to say “Hello” or as Charlie over at Emergency Awesome would say “High Fives”!

Categories: Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Shadow of Ayn Rand

A typical kind of Ayn Rand quote which lures people in.

A typical kind of inspirational Ayn Rand quote which lures people in.

For those of you who don’t know anything about  Ayn Rand aka Alisa Rosenbaum, settle in.

Rand made her name with her main two novels, “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”, both books depicted men and women who were industrialists and CEOs in heroic terms. While we may not have Odysseus, Achilles or Jason leading us anymore, instead we can now look up to Howard Roark, Dagny Taggart or John Galt, because in essence, due to the grace of their “genius” and “productiveness”, we are all somehow allowed to live and like dogs happy to get table scraps, we should be grateful for whatever they  throw at us.
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By themselves, the books aren’t bad. In fact, I’d even say that “The Fountainhead” is an alright read and the film with Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal and Raymond Massey is interesting to watch only because Cooper and Neal started a torrid affair during filming which scandalized Hollywood at the time.
Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal) staring down Howard Roark (Gary Cooper).

Dominique Francon (Patricia Neal) staring down Howard Roark (Gary Cooper).

Rand has always been popular with young readers or those readers who are young in mind (Read: immature) which I think explains her ongoing popularity. When you’re young and philosophically immature, it is very easy to fall for the romantic notions of heroism which Rand paints in her books. It’s only when you get a little more sophisticated, you realize that Rand’s ideals of heroism and grandeur bear an eerily close resemblance to Nietzsche’s ideal of the “Super-Man”, a concept and philosophy Adolf Hitler then used to fuel some aspects of Nazi ideology.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Rand was also a racist. Big time. You don’t have to look any further than this interview she gave on the Phil Donahue show back in the 1970’s especially from 5:57 onwards.
She also had peculiar ideas on female political leaders (from 2:25)
She was also a miserable human being.
I don’t say that because of the YouTube videos where she shoots herself in the foot. I say that because when I didn’t know any better, I too fell in love with her books back in the 9th grade  (yeah, I was a nerd). As a result I read of on all the rest of her works including “Anthem”, “For the New Intellectual”, “The Romantic Manifesto”,  “The Virtue of Selfishness”,“‘Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” as well as the two biographies done by her closest associates for years, “The Passion of Ayn Rand” by Barbara Branden and “My Years with Ayn Rand” by Nathaniel Branden, her onetime intellectual heir turned lover. I’m not going to discuss the dirty laundry of her life, only to say there was lots. Lots. She had no problem treating anyone like dirt especially if they got in her way and this included her husband, her sister and eventually, the Brandens. This justified her philosophy of selfishness, I think.
Friends in high places. Rand and her husband, with former president Gerald Ford and chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.

Friends in high places. Rand and her husband, with former president Gerald Ford and chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.

I also don’t think it is a coincidence either why the political and economic ultra-right wing in the United States fall hook, line and sinker for Ayn Rand, like Rand Paul or former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan (the same jerk who oversaw the financial meltdown of 2008) who was a personal friend of Rand’s for many years and attended her weekly talks at her NYC apartment.
Prominent economist Jeffrey Sachs can’t stand Rand  and he sums it up best in this video (from 2:49), especially on John Galt’s speech in “Atlas Shrugged”. It’s about the absence of any compassion whatsoever. And big business and CEOs alike would like to think that like Rand’s heroes, they too are heroic, and because of their privilege and talent, also deserve to earn and take anything they want…never mind workers rights or paying taxes which give funds to keep a community alive for municipal services like libraries or fire trucks.
Only they are wrong.
Sears Roebuck & Company is about to go under any day now and that’s due in large part to their idiot CEO who tried installing Ayn Rand’s brand of laissez-faire capitalism into the business. The result? Virtual bankruptcy for a company which lasted almost for over 100 years.  Great productivity, eh?   Rand had very strange ideas on misogyny, physical looks and the “halo effect” and obnoxious businessmen. You can read it all here.
It’s no secret that Lululemon’s former CEO Chip Wilson used to worship at the altar of Ayn Rand. In fact, they had several campaigns highlighting Rand’s work including using the famous question “Who is John Galt?” in one of their ad campaigns as well as strongly pushing their ambassadors to attend the culty and creepy LandMark Education seminars until fairly recently, all in the pursuit of “greatness” to use Chip’s word.
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So when you have a company like Lululemon which provides clothing for what some people still consider to be a spiritual practice like yoga, which is all about trying to become a better human being, it did seem a little strange to see the disconnect between yoga and Ayn Rand’s philosophies and beliefs which border on the survival of the fittest. (Thankfully lulu has decided to downplay the Ayn Rand angle but nonetheless, this is the sort of thing people need to be aware of.)
What’s the lesson to today’s tale? If you ever encounter a company, a person, a celebrity who professes to love Ayn Rand and her ideas, I would only say watch them closely because I can almost guarantee that you will be dealing with a juvenile, not an adult.
Choose your ideals wisely.

 

Categories: Conspirio, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Something’s Afoot….

foreboding

The past few days, I have not been able to shake off the feeling that *something* is about to blow.  Don’t ask me what, why or how, I just do and if Carl Boudreau’s February astrological forecast is correct, something is about to be outed. I hope I’m wrong.

 SochiTransformer
Maybe it’s the impending Sochi Olympics, the fact that there have been terrorist bombings in Russia leading up to the games and this has heightened security concerns for Olympics in the region as well as the rest of Russia. Truth be told, I will not be surprised in the least is something does end up happening during the Games, despite air-tight Russian security. In fact, I do think if anything does happen, it’s going to be a false-flag inside-job orchestrated by Western-Saudi interests in order to punish Russia and Putin for their noncompliance on invading Syria. I just wouldn’t put it past them to do something of that sort.
These guys don't dig each other. I wonder why...

These guys don’t dig each other. I wonder why…

The People’s Voice, the internet channel run by David Icke and his crew, has been suffering some setbacks in recent weeks. First there was the debacle with Sonia Poulton, the host of their flagship show leaving. Then TPV and their YouTube channel got hacked and all content was deleted. In fact TPV has been under constant attack from Day 1 practically and one can’t help but feel someone (or some group) is definitely feeling threatened these days or else why bothering putting in so much effort to attack?  To their credit, despite the small scale of the operation, being run by mostly volunteers and being entirely funded by crowd-sourcing and they have already had some amazing interviews. From what I understand, TPV is against the ropes financially and are calling for more donations. It would be a real shame if it doesn’t work out. I just don’t understand why some of these big-name celebrities (including most Hollywood writers) who follow Icke’s work aren’t stepping up to the plate at all.
David-Icke_ThePeoplesVoice_studio_large_500
Today I also found out noted Astro-Theologist Santos Bonacci was arrested and is in custody in Melbourne. Bonacci is quite a gifted lecturer and is a specialist on Syncretism. His talks are very insightful and even if lengthy, there’s good stuff in there if you’re patient. I know he’s consistently spoken disparagingly of the global banking cartel, the Vatican and just about any group that looks to enslaving other people. He’s also been involved in the Freeman and freedom movements for quite a while now so I find it strange that he’s suddenly been picked up by the cops. This is still a developing story.
Santos Bonnaci

Santos Bonacci

The Babarazzi were all about taking the piss out of the commercial yoga “scene”.  Aghori Babarazzi and his motley crew of anarchist writers did the much-needed task of deconstructing and deflating egos of yoga celebutards, all with satire, snark, fun and loads of sassiness. The blogosphere just won’t be the same without them. (Aghori, should you ever decide to trade in your anonymity for friendship, you’re always welcome at my place for tea, sympathy and maybe a swim in the river.)
Catch up on your reading folks, because after next week, it's gone.

Catch up on your reading folks, because after next week, it’s gone.

Last week, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, which looks out over Rio de Janeiro was struck by lightning. It hit the hand and there has been damage to the statue. Repairs have started.
brazil-weather-rain
While I’m normally not superstitious (or religious or Christian for that matter), there’s a creepy-vibe about the whole thing.
Soren Dreier wrote a great article over the holidays saying that he feels 2014-2017 is going to be a period when things are going to get very dark and 2017-2021 is when he sees real light showing up and I have to agree. Things usually have a tendency to get a lot worse first before they get a lot better.
The darkness before dawn

The darkness before dawn

Most of it falls on us, of course,  and the choices we individually make, to either stay in our little shells or decide to get out of ourselves regularly. It’s the old fear vs. love argument.
To that I’ll only say one thing;  love is a natural, effortless state of being,  fear is an unnatural,  induced one.
bertrand-russell
Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Conspirio, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Think like the Illuminati, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Extinction of the Unique

An army of demonstrators facing off riot police in Istanbul.

An army of demonstrators facing off riot police in Istanbul.

I’ve been steadily watching the ongoing riots and demonstration happening in Turkey the last week, it hits a bit close to home since I spent several years living and working there and consider it in some ways my second home. The names of the squares, the neighborhoods the news reports mention are all dearly familiar to me.

Kizilay, the center of Ankara.

Kizilay, the center of Ankara.

I left Turkey in 2002, just before Ergodan got in. In fact I actually had a run-in with him while he was on his election campaign. It was in the ancient city of Amasya. Me and a group of friends were there spending the weekend and staying at one of the old Ottoman houses which have since been converted into boutique pensions and hotels.

Amasya, sits along the banks of the river-valley of the Yeşilırmak River. Full of old, preserved Ottoman homes and tombs of ancient kings carved into the mountainside, it's a wonderful place to spend time. The region is also famous for it's apples.

Amasya, sits along the banks of the river-valley of the Yeşilırmak River. Full of old, preserved Ottoman homes and tombs of ancient kings carved into the mountainside, it’s a wonderful place to spend time. The region is also famous for it’s apples.

We were there to do some serious hiking and investigate the ruins and tombs of Pontic kings which have essentially been carved into the mountainside. We saw Erdogan give a speech in the town center and an American in my group yelled out “Hey Eddy” while frantically waving. Erdogan waved back but then when he realized we were a bunch of foreigners, looked confused and then stopped waving.

The Migros mall in Ankara.

The Migros mall in Ankara.

Anyway, I’ve returned to Turkey several times since then and the country becomes more unrecognizable each time I go. It saddens me immensely that the small things which made Turkey unique, like the Pasaji malls, the small old-fashioned cinemas and neighborhood weekly food bazaars (farmer’s markets) are disappearing quickly.

Weekly neighborhood farmer's markets or "pazaars" usually rotate around the city so everyone has a chance to buy from local farmers.

Weekly neighborhood farmer’s markets or “pazaars” usually rotate around the city so everyone has a chance to buy from local farmers.

Historical places which were off-the-beaten path like Olympos have been overtaken by mass-tourism, losing it’s charm and soul along the way. American-style subdivisions have swallowed up Ankara. You can easily mistake some of them for a suburb in New Jersey or California now. Mega-malls and multiplex cinemas are everywhere, and foreign franchises like Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Body Shop sit at every new corner.

Karum, is a super-posh mall at the base of the Sheraton hotel in Ankara.

Karum, is a super-posh mall at the base of the Sheraton hotel in Ankara.

I have many friends there who are involved in leftist politics and the litany of complaints just goes on and on. Turkey is awash with NATO money, condos, malls, resorts are going up everywhere. It’s the usual arguments for globalization, the classes and sectors most closely entrenched with the bureaucracy and with technocrats, profit the most while everyone else seems to experience nothing but diminishing returns. There are now restrictions to access to things like abortions, birth control, the Morning After pill and alcoholic beverages. There are even some shades of lipstick which are now deemed “inappropriate”!

Most of the Turks I know are very progressive politically and can’t stand what their governments are doing in their name. They don’t like the fact that Erdogan has gotten involved in the mess in Syria. They don’t like the fact that Turkey has such cozy military arrangements with the US and Israel. They don’t like the fact that journalists and activists who call for social reform and more freedom of the press are regularly jailed and imprisoned.

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Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows how much of a leftist, anarchist anti-globalization sympathizer I am. I hate the way the world is becoming more generic everywhere with each passing day. The blandness, the uniformity and in the name of “progress”. In that regard, I can understand why someone would become a Luddite. If I go to Japan, I don’t want to get off the plane to see another GAP, identical to the one at home. I want to see all the unique things, the foods, the buildings, the temples, the plants, animals, the geography, the farmer’s markets, the legendary fish markets which make Japan unique in the first place.

This could be, literally anywhere.

This could be, literally anywhere.

It’s not just countries transforming themselves to all look a certain way. I see it in the way people dress too. Everyone pretty much wears the same uniforms now. T-shirt, jeans, sandals/sneakers whether it’s Montreal or Mozambique. Everyone is eating the same food, burgers, sushi, soda pop. Everyone reads the same books, the same best-sellers whether it’s Dan Brown or Stephen King. People are even starting to think the same way and I’m noticing that it’s starting to take even greater reserves of psychic energy to maintain your uniqueness, to stay different and to stay outside the box.

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Talk to any scientist with even half a functioning brain and they will be the first ones to tell you that diversity, heterogeneity is a good thing. That having genetic diversity gives organisms genetic strength. That being in a state of homogeneity is dangerous for extended periods of time and leaves the species vulnerable.

This kind of homogeneity is not a good thing.

This kind of homogeneity is not a good thing.

That if you were to wipe out all varieties of say, rice, but just keep one or two strains for mass agriculture and plant all the fields with these two strains. In case a parasite or fungus is introduced and wipes out these two strains or rice, because you didn’t keep the other varieties which might have been immune to the fungus, you’ve now lost all your rice. That example can easily be extrapolated to humans, our minds, our opinions, our way of life.

Stay unique Folks, these are very homogeneous times.

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Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Travels, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Spiritual trendiness

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

“When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything he has done. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I want to know what So-and-so did’ — and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go read what he had read. And the world opens up in a way that is consistent with a certain point of view. But when you go from one author to another, you may be able to tell us the date when each wrote such and such a poem — but he hasn’t said anything to you.”
– Joseph Campbell

Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey

Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey. The turquoise-tiled minaret shows where Rumi is buried.

Rumi's grave (May eternal peace be upon him)

Rumi’s grave (May eternal peace be upon him)

I remember while in Turkey, taking a long weekend off of work to journey to Konya to watch the Whirling Dervishes, the mystical Islamic Sufi order established by Jalaluddin Rumi (or Mevlana as he is known by in Turkey), dance the Sema dance and to visit Rumi’s grave. I’m sure you’ve seen in either in ads or commercials or documentaries.

To outsiders who don’t know any better, it just looks like a group of men in long flowing white skirts and jackets, wearing fez hats, twirling around in circles. The Sema, in fact has a deeper symbolism. The circles they dance in represents the Circle of Life. Birth, death and rebirth. Fall, winter, spring and summer. The blood in our bodies being pumped out by the heart to only return back to the heart. The examples are infinite. It induces a trance-like state for the dancer which is supposed to help them meet with That, like ayahuasca might for some or peyote for others.

Mevlana was actually born in present-day Afghanistan, wrote all his poetry in the Persian language and is buries in present-day Turkey.

Mevlana was actually born in present-day Afghanistan, wrote all his poetry in the Persian language and is buried in present-day Turkey.

Back then, Rumi was not the spiritual superstar that New Agers and certain yoga instructors these days love to quote. In fact even 10 years ago, I’m sure if you even mentioned Rumi to those who were knee-deep in Deepak Chopra-speak or Wayne Dyer-speak, they wouldn’t even know who or what you were talking about. It’s interesting to watch because since the Rumi train seems to be slowing down now, I’ve noticed that the Deepak/Dyer crowd have now jumped on another mystical Islamic, Persian poet, namely Hafiz. (I’m betting after they get sick of or run out of the Persian poets, they’ll return to the Russians like Alexander Blok, and Pushkin and then heaven forbid, the old Europeans mystics like William Blake, W.B Yeats, Goethe, Meister Eckhart and Emanuel Swedenborg. It’s always about finding a “new” bottle for old wine.)

When western yoga instructors "discover" Emanuel Swedenborg, will that lead to a revival of interest in Christian mysticism? Your guess is as good as mine...

When western yoga instructors “discover” Emanuel Swedenborg, will that lead to a revival of interest in Christian mysticism? Your guess is as good as mine…

Truth be told, I find the sudden interest in Islamic mysticism by some Westerners and bubble-headed yoga instructors who are normally Conservative, Republican, right-wing and very anti-Arab or anti-Muslim, strange to put it mildly. True, the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz have inspired wonderment across centuries. If you have even the smallest spiritual inclination in you, you can’t help but be touched by their words. But before Rumi, it was the Khalil Gibran train. Before Gibran, it was Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsch. It’s this constant hopping around because it’s a trend, without any real study or serious reflection on the works of these past masters and then passing it off as “This makes me look serious” which I take issue with.

if you want to be trendy with what you wear and what you eat, fine. But don't expect anyone to take you seriously if you do it with your spirituality.

if you want to be trendy with what you wear and what you eat, fine. But don’t expect anyone to take you seriously if you do it with your spirituality.

And this brings me back to Campbell’s quote above. I have to agree with Campbell 150% on this one. It is best to find someone whose words ring so deeply and so true for you that you will need to read up on all their works to process and internalize their ideas and sentiments properly. That’s when you start to “get” them properly. One spiritual master whose words have consistently resonated deeply with me, as I have posted many times here is Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov.

It was Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name "Omraam" and it was Swami Nityananda who explained that Aivanhov was an incarnation of Vedic sage from the Solar Age and in fact had come back to bring back the Solar teachings.

It was Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name “Omraam” and it was Nityananda who explained that Aivanhov was an incarnation of Vedic sage from the Solar Age and in fact had come back to bring back the Solar teachings. Apparently he also met the legendary Babaji in the Himalayas as well but he refused to talk about it.

Like all seekers at the beginning of their road, I did my fair share of hopping as well. Not because a certain writer was the flavour of the month but because I was searching. I read George Gurdjieff, Rudolph Steiner, tried Jiddu Krishnamurti and Theosophy in earnest but none of it seemed to “stick” for lack of a better word. But with Aivanhov, it was like remembering a deeply treasured memory which had been forgotten and a flood of light breaking through a door. I’ve been reading Aivanhov since at least 1996 and have never looked back.
In fact here’s a photo of my Aivanhov bookshelf;

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Like I posted recently, these days it’s also Alan Watts which is speaking to me (thank God for YouTube!). While I don’t see myself going to Japan to study Zen in all seriousness with a proper Zen master ( and I’m not even sure if the monasteries there even accept women!), Watts, like Aivanhov, was/is able to synthesize the Perennial teachings along with recent scientific findings and present it with their own flair and in such a way the modern reader/listener can connect instantly.

galvanoplasty-definition.jpgSpiritualGalvanoplasty

That is a rare talent and not one which New Age hucksters can ever master convincingly.

Portland_Japanese_gardens_zen_garden

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Travels, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Power of Touch and the Touch of Power

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The recent news about hot yoga shyster Bikram Choudhury being accused of rape has been generating a lot of discussion online and off about the whole nature of power within the context of guru/student dynamics as well as male/female dynamics.

femme_800

It got me thinking about the most primary of relationships which we all experience, that we have with the opposite sex (I don’t mean to exclude transgendered persons from this discussion, I’m just writing out of my own experience so apologies in advance if anyone may take offence). In my case, it’s not really about Dad, or brother or uncle or Grandpa. It’s mostly the kind when sexual dynamics and chemistry come into play.
George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones definitely had serious chemistry going on in "Intolerable Cruelty"

George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones definitely had serious chemistry going on in “Intolerable Cruelty”

 I’m writing this from the perspective of a heterosexual female, so bear with me a second for anyone who does not belong to that same group. Call me sensitive but there is a major difference in the way a man touches you which, if you’re alert can tell you almost everything you need to know about him and what he wants out of you, what he really feels about you, what he really thinks about you. It’s hard to describe but a whole host of elements come into play when a man touches you, how quickly he tries to touch you and where, how much pressure he exerts when he does touch you, how lightly, how fervently, how calmly, how warmly, how suddenly, how hard or how soft. Maybe I’m some kind of freak but I’ve been able to read exactly what was going on just by the way a guy touched me. It doesn’t even have to be in a romantic context like in a kiss or embrace. It could be even in a handshake or the way he hands me half his sandwich.
Sometimes less is a lot more...

Sometimes less is a lot more…

 I remember meeting with someone, we had not seen each other in a few years and we went out for dinner a few times to catch up, the chemistry was still there but long story short, nothing would ever come of it. I remember saying goodbye to him and he suddenly grabbed my shoulder. It was too abrupt, too sudden and he was digging into my skin too hard. I did not detect any softness, any patience in that touch. I wiggled myself out of his grip but then I realized all too clearly that I was nothing but a diversion for him. I also picked up almost instantaneously that if we were to become lovers, he would be a very selfish one. That’s when I lost all interest and realized it was a dead-end. I have since heard that he cheats on his wife regularly now. It doesn’t surprise me in the least.
Man-touching-womans-shoul-001
I remember another time when someone else lightly kissed my forehead. In that second, I could have been knocked over by a feather. It wasn’t just chemistry but there was a gentle sincerity and respect there which in itself is insanely attractive. Things didn’t work out, we were and are too different and have different dreams but I have nothing but good things to say about him, he’s a really good guy and I’m sure he’ll make the right girl very, very happy one day.
Now in the context of yoga, some of the yoga asanas can be sexual.
You’re spread out wide open, legs open, legs in the air
Happy Baby Pose
You’re open.
Wide legged forward bend

Wide legged forward bend

You’re vulnerable.
Yoganidrasna pose

Yoganidrasna pose

A good instructor’s touch is hardly felt, they’ll usually always ask for permission to adjust you properly, they respect your boundaries and in this case your boundaries involve your own body. A bad instructor will not respect your boundaries and in the case of the more lecherous instructors I’ve observed, will be all over girls while “adjusting”. All it takes is a few classes and you’ll pick up what’s going on if you’re alert.
Yoga instructor in film "Couple's retreat" - a bad example of adjusting.

Yoga instructor in film “Couple’s retreat” – a bad example of adjusting.

 Now, I don’t want to make the victims of shady gurus and shady yoga instructors out to be in the wrong, and say that they should have known better and walked away earlier and bypassed the abuse. That’s like saying that women who are victims of domestic violence should have known better before getting involved with such-and-such jerk. But the promises of romantic love and fulfillment can often be as alluring as the promises of spiritual gifts and abilities and in that respect, they may not be all that different from each other.
choices2-300x280
Some gurus promise initiation or revelations of spiritual secrets and abilities if “you just listen to everything I say and do as I say.” For someone who doesn’t know any better, the glamour of spiritual specialness or of attaining what Alan Watts called “psychic technologies” (i.e bilocation, telekinesis, Enlightenment, levitation, mind-reading etc.) is too irresistable an offer to pass up.
Real spiritual initiation usually involves handing down teachings after years of study or being a student. It should NOT make you feel uncomfortable, or cornered.

Real spiritual initiation usually involves handing down teachings after years of study or being a student. It should NOT make you feel uncomfortable, or cornered.

Likewise some potential romantic partners may allure you with dreams of butterflies in your stomach, a  few sessions of hot, sweaty, toe-curling sex, maybe even happily ever after just as long as you follow what I call “The Script”. The Script can change from year to year, maybe it might mean sex on the first date but no later than the third. It might mean observing the highly changeable rites of courtship and following the ground rules which society at large has decided on. It might mean following the advice as featured in this month’s issue of Cosmopolitan or Details magazine.
I hate this magazine.

I hate this magazine.

Both prey on the fears and on what’s lacking in one’s life and that if this one thing is not lacking anymore, we will be happy. I personally think it’s even more basic than that, it’s really about Power. That by attaining these things, we become more powerful and in control and here I have to agree with Watts completely, that power in that sense is really not something you want, especially the kind of power which involves controlling other people. When we can control other people, we basically want them to be like wooden dolls in a scenario or dream of our choosing. What makes life interesting is that wildcard factor, when we let go of that control and let things happen as they may. When people talk back to us, when last-minute changes happen.
Being in power over ourselves is OK.
Being in power over others is not.
Categories: Ascension, False prophits, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oh, how the mighty fall…

No, Bikram, you're NOT sexy.

No, Bikram, you’re NOT sexy.

Breaking news, but it looks like Bikram Choudhury, the founder and “creator” of the hot yoga craze has now been accused of rape from two different Jane Does. You can read all the ugly details over at YogaDork or at the source itself at Courthouse News Service. I warn you, it’s an uncomfortable read because if what is claimed is true, then it really shows up what a real misogynist Bikram really is.

Some choice quotes from the testimony:

Doe No. 2 claims the grueling schedule was designed to “break down her body, will and spirit,” and brainwash her with Choudhury’s “vision and teachings.” She describes Choudhury as a combustible tyrant who orders students during classes to remain mute, and treat him “with unquestioning obedience.”
“Students are also often required to attend evening lectures, where defendant Choudhury rants on subjects including his negative views on certain races; negative views on homosexuality; the moral lassitude of Americans; his guru; his views on sex, marriage, and relationships; and whatever else he should care to talk about,” the complaint states.
Some students are pushed so hard they faint, vomit, urinate on themselves, or suffer heat strokes and seizures, Doe says in the complaint.

It gets worse…a lot worse…

“Defendant Bikram Choudhury pulled her pants down and forced her onto the bed. Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 could not stop crying and kept begging him over and over to stop. He forced his unprotected penis in her vagina. Within moments it was over. The only thing defendant Bikram Choudhury said was, ‘How many times did you come?’ Plaintiff Jane Doe No.2 was in pain, in shock and could not speak. Defendant Bikram Choudhury then ordered plaintiff to watch him until he fell asleep,” according to the complaint.
Doe adds: “The next day during lecture, defendant Bikram Choudhury made offensive sexual comments to the whole class. It was demoralizing and humiliating. He told the plaintiff and rest of the class that when he first moved to the U.S. women raped him all the time and taught him how to have sex. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said he would have sex marathons. Then he started talking about women’s bodies and how he liked ‘pussy’ without hair on it. Defendant Bikram Choudhury said, ‘I can’t stand fat unattractive women.’ As he spoke, his voice was becoming more and more intense and his language more vulgar.'”

I feel terrible for what those two women must have have gone through in order to summon up the courage to come forward and go ahead and make this public. Having worked with victims of violent crime as a former spiritual care-giver, this is something not to take lightly particularly from the victims’ point of view. Most cases of rape go unreported because the victims (usually women) are often terrified of reprisals or of having to face the perpetrator in court and relive the painful experience. This is often compounded by the fact that the police and the judicial system are often very clinical in their approach. They’re not exactly known for their warm, fuzzy feelings, caring and nurturing when people have gone through hell.

From Rainn.org

From Rainn.org

This culture of abuse between student and “guru” in the yoga world keeps happening over and over again. My own personal take is that a big part of the problem lies within the yoga community itself. If people just withheld their dollars, many of these outfits would go under overnight. I mean when YogaDork posted the news earlier today on their FaceBook page, some of the comments underneath included the likes of:

“Two sides to every story..”
“There are 3 sides to every story…yours, theirs, and the whole damn truth. Don’t judge.”
” It’s really too bad that people are willing to destroy the man before they know the whole picture. I say he’s innocent until proven guilty.”

And to that I say:

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Don’t judge?
Especially when 2 different women and a third back in March have all come forward on Bikram’s sexual harassment/abuse?

Sarah Baughn accused Bikram of sexual assault this past March.

Sarah Baughn accused Bikram of sexual assault this past March.

This is what drives me nuts about the yoga community at times, it would seem in the drive to be “spiritual” or “enlightened” some people’s brains have been reduced to mush since they live in fear or being labelled “judgemental” like that’s tantamount to being labelled a child abuser. The problem is due to this fear of being labelled judgemental, they often allow some of their own moral compasses to slide and not necessarily in the correct direction.

judgemental

Take this comment for instance from the same aforementioned FaceBook thread:

“I don’t even care. I will continue to go to my Bikram studio and do the yoga that works for me and that has changed my entire life for the better. I don’t need to agree with the supposed “founder” to get the benefits from my yoga studio. I love my teachers and do not feel any of the corruption that I read about Bikram. I feel love, compassion, and true caring. Bikram is not the one who has changed my life…my studio and instructors are. I take solace in the fact that I don’t actually give any money to him but instead get paid to do laundry AND free yoga.” (it got 28″Likes”)

What this poster fails to see, no doubt, in her blind drive for “love, compassion and true caring” and “free yoga” is that she’s certainly not showing any love, compassion and true caring whatsoever to the victims here of what is essentially a criminal and violent act and instead by continuing to frequent Bikram studios, has sided with the guilty party and is helping to augment the name, the brand and the organization.

Bikram logo.

Bikram logo.

I understand that there is something called moral relativism. What may be right for one person can be completely wrong for someone else given the context, life circumstance etc. However, I do think at some point a line has to be drawn in the sand particularly when abuse and violence come into play. And rape is violence, no matter how you cut it.
That’s just, plain unacceptable.

line-in-the-sand-at-gower-s-langland-bay-for-wales-will-you-be-voting-no-in-thursday-s-referendum-3438881

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Yoga with Alan Watts

Apologies Shifters for not posting very much these last few weeks.

3 weeks ago we had a surprise snowstorm of 10cm and now we’re having +27 °C  (81 degrees for the Americans), weather and constant sunshine comparable to July’s weather. Montrealers are outside everyday in force, myself included. It was a long, hard, cold winter and this balmy spring leaves little inclination to stay indoors and write very much.

The riverfront bikepath a stone's throw away from my neighborhood.

The riverfront bikepath a stone’s throw away from my neighborhood.

I’m very lucky in that I live in an amazing neighborhood of Montreal which is literally steps away from the riverside. This affords me to see ducks, Canada geese, beavers, foxes, muskrats, turtles and snakes while I either walk or jog along the river banks among the weeping willows and tall grasses.

Path along the riverside

Because of the insane weather we’ve been having, I’ve started to do my yoga practice outside in the morning as the sun rises.

No, that's not me, but you get the idea.

No, that’s not me, and that’s not my park but you get the idea.

...but more like here. (photo from Walking Turcot Yards)

…but more like here. (photo from Walking Turcot Yards)

Normally I do my practice in silence. I’m not one for flashy props and special effects which is why I don’t get the whole acro-yoga, trance-dance yoga and aerial yoga craze which I see everywhere these days. I’m sure they have their benefits… but it seems more like gymnastics and acrobatics than yoga per se.

Is this really yoga? I dunno...

Is this really yoga? I dunno…

Anyway, I’ve started doing my practice outdoors and have started to do them while listening to the talks of the late, great Zen master and teacher Alan Watts and the combination of the two just seems to click for me. It may not for others, but I just found my equivalent of wild strawberries and fresh cream.

wildstrawberries and cream

Watts, for those of you who have never heard of him or know very little about him, was a weird and wonderful spiritual teacher who made Zen Buddhism accessible to all.

Alan Watts

Alan Watts

Friends with the likes of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, Watts did much of his teaching in the San Francisco area back in the 1950’s,60’s and early 70’s and spent much time with alternative thinkers especially at his Sausalito houseboat and cabin home in the delightfully named Druid Heights near Mount Tamalpais, over on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.

Give a listen to any of Watts talks on YouTube (they number in the hundreds now) and you’ll quickly realize that Zen wasn’t the only thing which Watts tackled. His talks weave religious history, concepts from Hinduism and Taoism, philosophy, the nature of consciousness and humor effortlessly. Watts died quite young in middle age, unfortunately his womanizing and hard-drinking finally caught up to him.

What I think stands out about Watts, like Joseph Campbell, is that he’s a real teacher. They’ll never tell you what to do in your life. In fact, they’re against that sort of thing on principle, unlike way too many “gurus” and “spiritual seers” I’ve either met or read about in the whole New Age/spirituality racket who are only too eager to exert control or show off their influence. Rather, they’ll help you remember what you’re really all about and leave the trail of cosmic breadcrumbs so that you can guide yourself out of the woods on your own. That’s the way it should be.

Here’s a fun piece of Watts work, interpreted by the creators of “South Park”.
You don’t need to do yoga to get Watts either.
Enjoy.

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, Raise your EQ, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

9 reasons why the current yoga scene can be likened to Gwyneth Paltrow (Take a freakin’ chill-pill, this is a Rant)

You know how there are some celebrities we just love to hate?

Not because we’re all envious or anything, we hate them because it’s fun! They’re either so obnoxious, self-involved or nonsensical that they invite disdain and derision because of the things they say and do.

Case in point: Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gwynnie-poo (from people.com)

Gwynnie-poo (from people.com). Horse-y faced WASP-y Hollywood blonde.

I don’t know what it is about her that brings out the inner bitch of just about every gal I know. I don’t think it’s because she’s thin, rich, white and blonde and married to a rock star. I could describe Charlize Theron (or Kate Hudson) in the same way, but Charlize has a bit of an edge to her which I think makes her cool.

Another classic Hollywood blonde: Charlize Theron

Delicate-featured , classic Hollywood blonde: Charlize Theron

Charlize also comes from a bit of a dodgy family background which makes her a badass for having survived it and coming out ahead.

Gwynnie-poo on the other hand has had a silver spoon firmly ensconced between the cheeks of her “butt of a 22 year old stripper” (her words not mine) and everything given to her on a silver platter from Day 1.
I also think Charlize is much prettier that Gwynnie-poo.  In fact, I think there are many other high-profile acting sisters in the same age group who are prettier, full of more substance AND smarter than Gwynnie-poo and deserve more screen time than her.

(Gents: this is the one and only time I’m going to post girly photos here for your viewing pleasure. Ladies: My point is that beauty can show up in equal amounts of brains AND comes in all colors )

Like Monica Bellucci,

Italian beauty Monica bellucci, with classical features and a body of a Roman goddess, Monica is not only beautiful but smart as well. Did you know she studied law at the University of Perugia before going into modelling?

Italian beauty Monica Bellucci, with classical features and the figure of a Roman statue, Monica is not only beautiful but smart as well. Did you know she studied law at the University of Perugia before going into modelling?

Salma Hayek,

Salma Hayek is  of Spanish and Lebanese descent, and fluent in Arabic, Spanish, Portugese and English

Salma Hayek is of Spanish and Lebanese descent, and fluent in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and English

Thandie Newton,

Biracial beauty Thandie Newton is half English and half Zimbabwean. She read Anthropology at Cambridge

Thandie Newton read Anthropology at Cambridge

Rosamund Pike,

Statuesque blonde bombshell with the complexion of an English Rose, Rosamund Pike studied English lit at Oxford and speaks French and German fluently.

Statuesque blonde bombshell with the complexion of an English Rose, Rosamund Pike studied English lit at Oxford.

Lisa Ray,

Half Bengali-half Polish Canadian actress Lisa Ray academically excelled in high school and finished 5 years of high school in 4.

Half Bengali-half Polish Canadian actress Lisa Ray excelled in high school and finished 5 years of high school in 4.

Sophie Marceau,

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Classic French beauty, former Bond girl Sophie Marceau is not only an actress, but she produces, directs and also is an author.

Ludivine Sagnier,

French actress Ludivine Sagnier, usually plays sexpots, but she had enough brains to stay away from Hollywood.

French actress Ludivine Sagnier, usually plays sexpots, but she had enough brains to stay away from the Hollywood machine.

Eva Green,

French actress and Bond Girl Eva Green has features which belong on an ancient roman coin or Greek statue.

Another French actress and Bond Girl Eva Green has features which belong on an ancient Roman coin or Greek statue. She hates shopping and has also nixed Hollywood.

Mylène Jampanoï,

Another biracial beauty, half French, half Chinese actress Mylène Jampanoï

Another bi-racial beauty, half French, half Chinese actress Mylène Jampanoï

And as for figures, while I agree clothes do hang very well on Gwynnie, she’s really nothing more than a clothes hanger…

Gwynnie wearing a Tom Ford creation at the Oscars in 2012 and trying to channel Grace Kelly.

Gwynnie wearing a Tom Ford creation at the Oscars in 2012 and trying to channel Grace Kelly.

…I still don’t think that kind of slenderness defined by the fashion world is very attractive.

Rather,  IMHO, women should strive to *BE*, first and foremost, HEALTHY and STRONG, say like the Brazilian National Women’s Olympic beach volleyball team for instance..

That's the way to do it Ladies! Maria Antonelli and Talita Rocha looking strong, healthy and feminine, curves, muscles and all.

That’s the way to do it Ladies! Maria Antonelli and Talita Rocha looking strong, healthy and feminine, curves, muscles and all.

…but I’m getting off-track here so on with the list….

1) The yoga scene is usually all about being thin, white and privileged.
Yoga: While things are slowly changing and awareness is definitely increasing, classes like queer yoga or curvy yoga are now popping up in many cities and there are now amazing Facebook groups as well as many great yoga blogs which are discussing these issues head-on, all of which are about making yoga more accessible to all, there is still unfortunately a long way to go. Average mean income of most yoga practitioners is around $75 000/year, far above the national average income level with many practitioners who are college educated with post-graduate degrees. Many of the younger girls I’ve come across could give a rat’s ass about the spiritual aspects or deeper health benefits of yoga but instead just want to get really lean and thin, mostly to get a boyfriend or a husband. Many instructors and studios are still failing to make visible, sexual and economic minorities and women with larger body-types welcome in the studio.

Gwynnie-poo: Gwyneth Paltrow is the walking definition of thin, white and privileged. Born into Hollywood royalty, her father was a TV producer of shows like “St. Elsewhere”, her mother is of Philadelphia Main Line stock and a thespian in her own right.  Gwynnie’s bi-coastal upbringing included Thanksgivings which were usually spent with the likes of Steven Spielberg in the Hamptons, going to the elitist Spence School of NYC and spending summers in Spain. She spends 14 hours a week working out with sketchy celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson and unabashedly boasts about using nothing less that $60 olive oil. There is nothing normal, accessible or grounded about her at all which normal, working women can ever relate to.

Gwyneth Paltrow's at-home private studio. She had a separate building built just to work out.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s at-home private studio. She had a separate building built just to work out.

2) The yoga scene is full of instructors who sprout one thing on the mat yet live a totally different reality off the mat and somehow make the whole thing OK.
Yoga: Ubiquitous yogilebrity Elena Brower, a well-known instructor from the Anusara “tradition” admits that she smokes. This is after her going on ad nauseum about the beauty of yoga, about the beauty of a breath, about the beauty of health, blah, blah, blah.

Gwynnie-poo: Gwynnie waxes lyrical constantly about the importance of her workout, her instructor, her diet  and buying the most expensive food possible. In fact her latest cookbook, ” It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes that Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great” is all about eating a vegan, low-carb, gluten-free lactose-intolerant diet. No coffee, dairy, alcohol, sugar, shellfish, potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, corn, wheat, meat, soy or anything processed.  And how French Fries nearly killed her. Then she dropped a bomb last week when she admitted that she looks forward to her weekly Saturday night cigarette. Um…Gwynnie, do you understand why that would make some people upset?

You're a real role model, Gwynnie!

You’re a real role model, Gwynnie!

3) The yoga scene and living the “yoga lifestyle” can be expensive
Yoga: Like I mentioned earlier, yoga caters to mostly those people who are affluent. Yoga studio unlimited memberships are about $1200 per year in my city. Lululemon pants run at about $90 each. Designer mats can be as high as $100. And then you have to factor in the seasonal cleanses, the retreats to exotic locations like Bali or Tulum ($4000), the Vitamix blender for your juices and smoothies ($750), the regular colonics ($80 a poop), the membership in CSA farms ($250 /12 weeks) and the time itself to daily practice. It adds up quickly. It’s cheaper to become a Jain monk and get the same results.

Gwynnie-poo: One only has to visit Gwyneth’s “lifestyle” blog and online magazine “Goop” and read a couple of articles particularly about what to buy, what to eat and where to visit to realize that this is a magazine which should only be in private circulation among other Hollywood actresses, billionaire heiresses and vulgar wives of Russian oligarchs since they are the only ones who will EVER be able to afford this “lifestyle”.

Gwynnie's gourmet kitchen at her new $10 million dollar digs in L.A

Gwynnie’s gourmet kitchen at her new $10 million dollar digs in L.A

4) The yoga scene can be out of touch from reality (borderline delusional actually)
Yoga: No, I can’t eat kale everyday and I don’t want to. I especially can’t afford to shell out 5 times the going rate of “normal” kale for kale that’s been grown biodynamically on fertile volcanic soil in Hawaii which has then been blessed by a shaman under a full moon which is then supposed to give me more ‘healing” nutrients. I can’t and I won’t so kindly fuck off.

Gwynnie-poo: The latest edition of Goop! included Spring 2013 fashion “essentials” which comes out to a whopping $450 000. Almost half a mill, folks. That’s just clothes. For one person. For one season. Seriously. With that kind of cash, you can dress practically everyone in Mozambique and Bangladesh. Combined. For life. For real.

Gwynnie's everyday punk look (from goop.com)

Gwynnie’s everyday punk look (from goop.com)

5) The yoga scene can sometimes espouse a strange diet.
Yoga: A quote from Chris Rock,

“We got so much food in America we’re allergic to food. Allergic to food! Hungry people ain’t allergic to shit. You think anyone in Rwanda’s got a fucking lactose intolerance?!”

Let me expand this to ask why is it that EVERYONE in the yoga scene nowadays seems to be lactose-intolerant, gluten intolerant, with allergies to wheat, rice, sugar, honey, coffee, dairy, alcohol, shellfish, potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, corn, meat, soy, nuts, grass, trees, air and sunshine?  While I agree having serious allergies is no laughing matter and following a vegetarian diet because of  strict ethical, moral and religious reasons because it’s a part of your being is admirable, I wonder how many people are making up their allergies or becoming vegans because it’s the cool thing to do? What you decide to put into your stomach is your own business and responsibility but personally,  I have to side with global bad-assed foodie Anthony Bourdain , that it is a construct coming out of too much affluence and predicated largely by rich, white kids who want to come across as doing something fashionable because being vegan is now fashionable “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans … are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit. They make for bad travelers and bad guests. The notion that before you even set out to go to Thailand, you say, ‘I’m not interested,’ or you’re unwilling to try things that people take so personally and are so proud of and so generous with, I don’t understand that, and I think it’s rude. You’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma serves you. I don’t have any understanding of it. Being a vegan is a first-world phenomenon, completely self-indulgent.”

Gwynnie-poo: Tinseltown blogger Perez Hilton summed it up best:

While we’re all for healthy children, we’re not so sure if leaving them hungry is the best thing! What kind of childhood is that?? Gwyneth Paltrow’s diet is SO STRICT that she admits sometimes her family is left hungry by her restrictions! BOOO! In her new cookbook called It’s All Good, all is most definitely not good, and she details the food she doesn’t let her kids have, like grains:

“Every single nutritionist, doctor and health-conscious person I have ever come across . . . seems to concur that [gluten] is tough on the system and many of us are at best intolerant of it and at worst allergic to it.”

We’re not so sure about that. We’ve written countless times on how a gluten-free diet is only really good for those who have celiac’s disease, otherwise you could be doing more harm than good! Then, she admits, the diet is not satisfying to her family:

“Sometimes when my family is not eating pasta, bread or processed grains like white rice, we’re left with that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs.”

That’s such a bummer. We have to be honest here. We’ve always been under the impression that moderation is key, so we’re okay with limiting the amount of processed and carb intake, but we also realize that kids need to be kids — which most definitely includes the happiness of treats from time to time, and to not have to go through childhood hungry! Being extreme with your kids is not how you get well-rounded and happy children!

 Gwynnie's new book. (Photo: Raphael Brion/Eater)

Gwynnie’s new book.
(Photo: Raphael Brion/Eater)

6) The yoga scene can be pretentious
Yoga: Chanting for 45 minutes then pranayama work for another 30 minutes then 1 hour yoga practice and then posting all about it as your Facebook status. Sure. Whatever. Knock yourself out, Buddy.

Gwynnie-poo: Just go check out Goop!. No. Like seriously. Better yet, read the post when Gwyneth talks about meditation and though she doesn’t know how to do it, but because it’s “brilliant”, so it’s time she took it up.

You can do it Gwynnie! Just make sure you don't get your Jimmy Choo's wet while you get into the water.

You can do it Gwynnie! Just make sure you don’t get your Jimmy Choo’s wet while you get into the water.

7) The yoga scene is full of instructors dispensing medical diagnoses, half of whom have never even taken an anatomy course
Yoga: “Can’t do balancing handstands because of tight shoulders or triangle pose because of a slipped disk? Do more yoga! It solves everything “—> something I once heard a yoga instructor who shall remain nameless say after class one day.

Gwynnie-poo: In the intro. of her new book, Gwyneth describes an incident where she self-diagnosed herself as having a stroke in 2011, after having lunch in her London home’s garden. As it turns out, she was having a migraine headache and a panic attack AT THE SAME TIME. Here’s what she said about it:
“One sunny afternoon in London, in the spring of 2011, I thought — without sounding overly dramatic — that I was going to die. I had just served lunch in the garden at home . . . I had a vague feeling that I was going to faint, and I wasn’t forming thoughts correctly. I got a searing pain in my head, I couldn’t speak, and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a stroke.”

Gwynnie after she fainted lounging on the divan...(Photo: Vanity Fair)

Gwynnie after she fainted, lounging on the divan…(Photo: Vanity Fair)

8) The yoga scene wants to come across as “hardcore” or “badassed”…but isn’t.
Yoga: Sadie Nardini. Nuff said.
Gwynnie-poo: A nine-course tasting menu is NOT “punk rock”.

Both of you seriously need to get a clue.

Both of you seriously need to get a clue.

9) The yoga scene can get “old” very quickly.
Yoga: How much Krisha Das do I need to listen to, bushels of kale I have to eat, and conversations I need to have with people who do nothing but navel-gaze before I become a “yogi”? Is there a support group for recovering vegans? Recovering Yogi’s website shows that I’m far from the only one harboring these thoughts.

Gwynnie-poo: Gwyneth, do you realize that you’re one of the most disliked Hollywood stars in the world? Do you realize that being everywhere, doing everything and bragging about it all to the entire world endears you to no one? Stop being so obnoxious and start being a little more humble, take it down a notch and take a back-seat sometime. It’ll do wonders for your image. And your “heart condition” too…

gwyneth-paltrow-pic-peopl-c1-thumb-450x303-21227

Categories: Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

The Rainbow Tribe

"Controversial" ad by Benetton

“Controversial” ad by Benetton

“The Rainbow Tribe consists of everyone, of native and non-native blood, that believe that in our coming together as a tribe of people, of all colors ,that we will make the one true tribe of two-legged ones that we are.  The Rainbow Tribe is actually many small groups that are coming together in understanding and celebration of the diversity of people and who understand their importance and their obligation of love to the Mother Earth and all that is here.”

The Spiritual Network

I have steadily been watching various discussions online about the lack of inclusion in the yoga world this past year. Anarchist yogis “The Babarazzi” does a fantastic job of periodically putting out wonderful, thought-provoking posts on this issue. What comes to mind was a post they did back in October called “Is De-Culturing Yoga an Act of Good Faith or a Promotion of Xenophobic Ideology? /// A Light and Easy Subject”.

Taking the "Indian-ness" out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool.

Taking the “Indian-ness” out of yoga to make it more palatable to the Venice Beach crowd is not cool. This is a form of cultural appropriation

Moonlit Moth, by blogger Andrea MacDonald based out of Vancouver is also taking an anti-imperialistic stance in taking on the issues of accessibility and anti-oppression in yoga.
Andrea writes:
“I strive to make my classes anti-oppressive. By anti-oppressive I mean anti-racist, queer, trans and LGBTQ friendly, patriarchy resistant, anti-colonial, body and ability positive as well as affordable for my students and sustainable for me as the teacher. In order to create a safe space for all my students I will do my best to address oppressive language and behaviour in the studio. Usually I find open, honest discussion can help make the classes safer for everyone involved.”
Kula Yoga Toronto is also offering “Brown Girl Yoga” and “Queer Yoga”  in an attempt to reach out to those communities and create a space where others can feel comfortable.
From "Essence" magazine

From “Essence” magazine

I applaud all these initiatives and discussions and while I think these issues of inclusion, diversity and accessibility are now being talked about more than ever online and off and are a far cry from that fall evening back in 2002 when I first stepped into a Bikram yoga studio and found myself as the only person of color in a roomful of pony-tailed golden boys with wash-board abs and a host of tall, lithe Caucasian trophy wives  discussing their Filipino nannies in the change room, I still think there is a long way to go.  I did not even have to look further than to scroll down  to the comments section of my article on EJ to see how far the so-called “enlightened” yoga crowd have to go.
Rabbit Pose - Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

Rabbit Pose – Do you honestly think anyone can do this pose on their first time ever doing yoga?

White entitlement and white privilege are in essence, almost taken for granted. They have been institutionally sanctioned for a couple of hundred years now, mostly in advent of  European imperialism and colonialism. It’s only maybe in the last 50 years serious questioning and scholarship has started to take place, mostly in academia and it has slowly started to filter down into mainstream culture.
W.E.B DuBois - serious academic and activist on racial issues.

W.E.B DuBois – serious academic and activist on racial issues.

That’s beyond the scope of this blog post but any discussion of race is going to cause fireworks to go off no matter what. Someone always ends up getting pissed off. People don’t like to think of themselves as racist or bigoted and they certainly don’t like it being pointed out to them even if it is done unconsciously.  And it would seem yogis, for all their talk of oneness and spiritualism, they positively hate to have it pointed out to them and have their artificial balloons of security and illusion popped especially by someone who is not white.
racist-eggs
One of the things I had to undergo when I did my stint as a spiritual caregiver at a hospital trauma unit as well as when I studied cross-cultural management for my undergraduate degree was something called diversity training. In essence, it’s about learning how to deal with people who are different from you in ethnicity, color, socio-economic background and culture without disrespecting them, their heritage, background etc, being mindful of the differences in order to bring out everyone’s best for the sake of improving overall teamwork and outcomes. In all honesty, I think more studios, more instructors, more training centers need to start including this as well, if all this talk of inclusion and plurality is to amount to anything.
diversitySymbol
I had to watch this film in the course of my studies. “The Color of Fear” is now considered a classic in diversity training and cross-cultural management seminars around the world and I think it merits several viewings. There are some comments alone which will force you to stop it and look at yourself and your own reactions. I think Victor Lewis probably has the most powerful voice here in expressing why some people are more equal than others. I warn you, it can be an uncomfortable watch but I think if we want that dream of a Rainbow Tribe to ever materialize, some hard questions and soul-searching needs to take place. This is as good as a beginning as anything else out there.
Categories: Ascension, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Trident of Clemency

I admit it, I watched Lance Armstrong’s admission of guilt last night with Oprah Winfrey.

While I was not particularly interested in watching the interview to understand all the whys and wherefores of his cheating, his colossal asshole personality and his arrogance which seemed to know no bounds, I was more interested in watching him closely, his facial expressions, his eyes and watching the body language of apology and admittance in general.

My verdict: I think he’s sorry he got caught. I think he’s sorry that his name will forever be in the mud now. I think he’s sorry how much he’s screwed up his legacy and the sport of professional bike racing. I think he’s sorry that he’s no longer on the A-list and won’t be able to bed Hollywood actresses as easily as he used to. In short, I think he’s sorry for what he did but I don’t think he’s sorry for who he is and what he became as a man and*that’s* the problem for me. I didn’t get any sense of genuine remorse and sincere apology. I almost get the feeling he’s timed the whole thing because he has plans for something else and this apology and admitting is a necessary stepping-stone which needs to be over and done with so that he can move on to something else on his horizon. It seemed too mechanical, planned and rehearsed.

Kate Hudson and Lance about to smootch...

Actress Kate Hudson and Lance about to get smootchy.

In all honesty, I could really care less about Armstrong in general but it got me thinking about the nature of apology, forgiveness and redemption. We have all done and said things in the past which we’re not proud of, that’s a given. We’ve all had bad things happen to us by the hands and words of someone else, no doubt.

But when I watch “comeback” stories, people who have literally gone through the wringer for something they did or said, gone a few turns on the wheel of fortune, through a few levels of hell and come out on the other side, not only whole, but somehow wiser, kinder, more understanding, more authentic, there is one quality which seems to be the common denominator: Humility.

Ahem.

Ahem.

Humility also comes in the same territory as taking full responsibility for your actions, admitting what you did was wrong and then trying to make amends, I think. People, like the Lance Armstrongs of this world, seem to think that a “I’m sorry” is enough and walk away as if nothing happened. I guess it depends on the seriousness of the consequences of your actions but that’s like just saying “I’m sorry” to a mother after you plowed down her son while driving drunk. It just doesn’t cut the mustard.

6a00e551f9630d8833016304baf349970d-800wi

Amends also have to be made, not grudgingly but one of complete admission and humility. In my tiny opinion, it needs to come from a place of truth if it’s to mean anything. It’s a 3-prong process, admission, seeking forgiveness and making amends. Depending on the severity of the incident, sometimes these things take years to unfold. Unfortunately what I see nowadays is the sensationalizing of admission and some forgiveness but not much on the amends part.

the reverand Jimmy Swaggert crying his crocodile tears when he got caught with his pants down...literally.

The Reverand Jimmy Swaggert crying his crocodile tears when he got caught with his pants down…literally.

Canada’s Native and First Nations communities have come alive in recent weeks with the “Idle No More” movement. There have been blockages are strategic border crossings and rail-lines, all in support of Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. She is asking for a face-to-face meeting with our horrible Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss the myriad of legitimate grievances which First Nations have put up with for far too long.

Right-wing, pro-oil, pro-cattle nut from Alberta (aka Texas North) VS Chief Spence

Right-wing, pro-oil, pro-cattle nut from Alberta (aka Texas North) VS Chief Spence

The trauma of residential schools, the humiliation of the Indian Act, a piece of legislation written up in times of racial and cultural ignorance and bigotry, that Canada’s rich natural resources are stolen, mined or sold and not a whit of the profits go back into these communities but rather, lines the pockets of corporate fat cats in Calgary and Toronto. Communities which often don’t have proper drinking water, among the highest suicide rates in the world and the lowest life expectancy rates in the West.

idle no more8

Canada, along with countries like the US, Australia and New Zealand due to British and French imperial powers, along with what Spain did in places like Mexico and Peru, have yet to make proper amends to Aboriginal communities for the genocide, planned assimilation and deliberate ruin of those civilizations and cultures.

El Presidente!Hugo Chavez, Fidel castro and Evo Morales.

El Presidente!
Hugo Chavez, Fidel castro and Evo Morales.

Yet when a Hugo Chavez in Venezuela or an Evo Morales in Bolivia shows up (both leaders with Indigenous backgrounds incidentally) and decide to add extremely progressive and sensible legislation to their countries like considering the natural world a legal entity of its own with rights which need to be respected, they are written off as flakes or Marxist dreamers. A “sorry” here, a reservation there, a dinky treaty written under imperial laws and decrees, just doesn’t cut the mustard.

This culture of faux-apology is everywhere. One yoga instructor I heard about took advantage of his privileges as a yoga instructor and not in a good way. Things finally caught up to him with the unfortunate result that he lost many friends and business contacts. Sadly, despite the fact that he was a pretty good instructor from a technical point of view, he now has a bit of a questionable reputation among the more established yoga community. From what I understand he’s trying to get back his credibility but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. He never bothered with that 3-prong process I mentioned. (OK, I’m talking about  John Friend of Anusara Yoga fame and his attempted recent “comeback” called Shri Daiva Yoga.)

South Africa was able to get past it’s awful Apartheid past when they instituted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission under the moral leadership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu . The ANC offered amnesty to those who tortured or killed others under apartheid in exchange for admission and truth.

Happy dudes, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Happy dudes, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Is it that hard to take those same principles and apply in our own lives?

Here’s brilliant vlogger Jay Smooth taking Chris Brown to task for assaulting Rihanna a few years ago  and why he needs to get a grip on himself and why it’s NOT ok to play the victim when you knowingly did something wrong….

Categories: Ascension, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Towards a New Economics …in Yoga?

This is something which has been brewing in my mind for quite a while now. I frequent quite a number of yoga-related sites and blogs and over and over again, I regularly read blog posts about yoga instructors, aspiring yoga instructors and the like bemoan the fact that as much as they adore the work that they do and the kinds of positive changes they witness in people’s lives due to the yoga, there just simply isn’t much money in it (unless you decide to go the route of a yoga celebutard) and keeping body, mind and soul intact is quite often a struggle.

Many aspiring yoga instuctors dream of a lifestyle which looks like this....

Many aspiring yoga instructors dream of a lifestyle which looks like this….

...but often have to pay their dues in settings like this.

…but often have to pay their dues in settings like this.

The options are usually limited and not very encouraging. Either become an aforementioned rock-star yoga asshole and climb that corporate-based model, or join the thousands of yoga instructors who have flooded the market in recent years and barely get by as a freelance worker, operating out of a variety of studios along with hitting the pavement to look for private clients or volunteer at community centers.

Corporate yoga!

Corporate yoga!

Either way, the fluctuations of your income will largely be dictated by the demands of the market place. If for instance yoga’s popularity declines because something else takes over, we can expect to see many unemployed yoga instructors hitting the internet to look around for something else, en masse.

I work in the managerial and financial side of health services. It is “health” on the curative side of things, unlike yoga which would (normally) fall under the preventative side of the definition of “health”. Increasingly, health services of BOTH varieties has become privatized and is largely following the private model of administration, financial compensation and management.

Like ABBA once sang, Money, Money ,Money"

Like ABBA once sang, Money, Money ,Money”

Of course within yoga, just because of how wide and diverse the community itself is, there are many co-op, pay-as-you-go, sliding scale and other initiatives following alternative economic models. None of it is very wide-scale unfortunately, a shame in my opinion, given the brain-power, creativity and general forwardness of the of the people normally involved in the community.

Setting aside exceptions to the rule and speaking in generalities, my biggest economic critique of most yoga studios, instructors, schools and the industry as a whole is that they just simply follow the business-as-usual model—-> i.e capitalism which usually works along the lines of “You control the economic resources, but I have the man power, so I work for you, you pay me, I go home”. It’s a reactive stance, not a pro-active one.  My own anarchist and leftist bias and sympathies should be pretty clear to anyone who reads my blog regularly so it should come as no surprise when I say, I think that model sucks royally.

Keep on droning, you evil workers you!

Keep on droning, you evil workers you!

I will not go into the evils and ills of capitalism. Any simple Google search can yield you numerous articles on that point. Instead I’d like to focus on a little-known economic model which I think the yoga industry, as a whole, is strategically placed to benefit from. It’s called Participatory Economics or Parecon for short. Before I go into Parecon, let me explain why I think the yoga industry is in a unique place at this time.

Progressive family doing yga together.

Progressive family doing yoga together.

Yoga is booming and is part of an annual $7 billion+ plus global wellness industry. Aside from it’s health and relaxation benefits, its therapeutic qualities are also becoming clearer over time. Demand for yoga is skyrocketing the world over. Setting aside any spiritual argument for the moment, as any basic micro economic class might have taught you back in college, economics is all about demand and supply. Where those two lines intersect on the graph is usually where price per quantity will be determined. If something is in short-supply but demand is high, then chances are prices will be very high. If supply has flooded the market and demand is low, no one wants it, then prices will be very low. The demand for yoga is there and growing. Progressive yoga schools, instructors and studios are therefore in a unique and powerful position to determine supply. Furthermore yoga is diverse enough to experiment with Parecon. The community is still large enough for experiments to go ahead and yet still small and alternative enough vis a vis the general population that it can do so and not ruffle the feathers of the  corporate-state system which, alternative economics if practiced widely and globally, ultimately would undermine (I can dream, can’t I?).

If the Demand curve shifts to the right or left and Supply stays the same, the (P)rice  at that (Q)uantity will change. Same thing happens if the Supply  curve shifts and Demand stays the same. If both Demand and Supply , change, new prices and quantities are determined.

If the Demand curve shifts to the right or left and Supply stays the same, the (P)rice at that (Q)uantity will change. Same thing happens if the Supply curve shifts
and Demand stays the same. If both Demand and Supply , change, new prices and quantities are determined.

Developed by M.I.T alumni Michael Albert, Parecon is an alternative economic system which ideally should be used in conjunction with parallel systems in politics, culture and kinship. “It is marked by equity, solidarity, diversity, workers’ self-management and efficiency. (Efficiency here means accomplishing goals without wasting valued assets.)”

Michael Albert  at right with Professor Noam Chomsky to his left

Michael Albert at right with Professor Noam Chomsky to his left

According to Wiki:
It proposes to attain these ends mainly through the following principles and institutions:
1) Workers’ and consumers’ councils utilizing self-managerial methods for making decisions
2) Balanced job complexes
3) Remuneration according to effort and sacrifice
4) Participatory planning

If you mosey on over to Micheal’s Parecon page over at Znet, there are many examples and discussions of HOW this is done. (If you are more theoretically or academically inclined, there are criticisms posted there as well.)
===========================================================
Let’s illustrate Parecon in action in a yoga-based context with a practical example. I’m going to use Micheal Albert’s own summary of Parecon but slightly modify it by overlaying it with yoga-based examples. (I apologize in advance, but the following language isn’t particularly sexy or exciting and you’re going to be asked to think through things just a little since it is a long read. No worries in skipping this article)

30 different yoga instructors, all all ages, ethnicities, orientations, styles and backgrounds have decide to get together and form a yoga co-op collective studio and have agreed to use a Parecon model to organize themselves. They have found an old firehouse and pooled their resources and have worked together to renovate it and create it into a space for sharing, instructing and learning.They vote together when someone would like to join the collective and individual members are free to leave at anytime.

The Yoga Collective's logo, from Stratford, Ontario

The Yoga Collective’s logo, from Stratford, Ontario

Like Michael Albert, all 30 instructors believe that “parecon, describes core institutions for an economy to generate solidarity, equity, self management, and an ecologically sound and classless economy. It recognizes that what seek needs to be worthy and viable.”

1) The group have decision making influence in proportion as they are affected by the decision in question. It’s not just one person one vote, majority rules, three quarters rule, consensus, or one person dictates. Each of these approaches makes sense in some situations, but not in others. Self management by each individual instructor is the ultimate aim, including having different approaches for different situations. There is no one-size-fits-all-model to decision-making processes.

fitall1

A self-managing council makes decisions and rules for tallying preferences that reflect with some accuracy their wishes. Issues affecting only one instructor, that instructor decides, albeit in context of broader guidelines, things like the length of their workday, how many classes they will offer, vacation time or definition of job responsibilities (will they only work with kids, paraplegics or seniors?) are decided more widely. Issues affecting overwhelmingly the whole team, the team decides, again, typically following broader guidelines, for example, opening hours of the studio, prices to charge, maintenance, cleaning and upkeep duties, which styles to offer, maximum number of students during peak hours, covering each other’s classes during time off etc.

Sometimes the best way to get self-management for all involved is to seek consensus. Other times one instructor-one vote majority rule is best, and still other times, other methods make sense. For real self-management, those involved must not only have easy input but also fostering a culture and atmosphere which allows engaging in relevant discussions, and setting agendas. If participation is formally inclusive, but people lack means to do what formal rules permit – that is not self management.

The second feature Parecon offers is the idea that financial compensation should not be for power, that you get what you can take. Nor should remuneration be for property, that you get in proportion to what the property that you are welcomed to own adds to output. Nor should it be for your personal output, that you get in proportion to what you yourself produce, with various tools, by your own labors.

Instead, Parecon urges that your share of financial compensation should in part reflect your special needs so that those who cannot work get average income, by right and all who have medical needs have those addressed, again by right. And beyond that, remuneration should reflect how long you work, how hard you work, and the onerousness of the conditions under which you work, at socially useful labor.

Pareconish equity therefore means you get more income, entitling you to a larger share of social product, for working harder, longer, or under worse conditions, as long as you are producing socially valued output.

If we look at any economic actor, the benefits and costs they face should be like those that others face, because we are all people and all entitled to comparable conditions of life. This doesn’t mean, we should all get the same income even if we do different work. Rather, think of the implications of our labor and of our share of social product for our “conditions of life” and seek that the sum of benefits minus associated debits equalize from person to person. That is pareconish equity.

Imagine two instructors, Sabrina and Joey, who both teach Ashtanga classes, for 30 hours a week, at advanced levels, under the same conditions, and so have the same income. Now, suppose Sabrina wants more income to go on a retreat in Nicaragua. Parecon says, that shouldn’t be forbidden. It is perfectly predictable and reasonable that people should have differences in their tastes for consumption goods and services. But, says Parecon, it wouldn’t be fair if it was done by fiat. What would make it fair is if Sabrina wanting more compensation to afford the trip arranges to work longer (maybe 40 hours a week), or harder (with under-aged behaviorally-challenged criminal offenders), or happens to work under worse conditions (not at the comfortable studio but at a local detention center with limited facilities).

Sabrina wants to go here!

Sabrina wants to go here!

Vice versa, suppose, instead, Joey doesn’t care too much about consumption goods and services, but wants more free time to meditate on his chakras. Parecon says, again, that that shouldn’t be forbidden, but neither is it fair if it is done by fiat. What would make it fair is if Joey can arrange to work less hours (maybe 25 hours a week) or easier (with 5 year old kids) or happens to work in easier conditions (at a 5-star local spa-like daycare with trophy wives), and then, in accord, takes a smaller share.

Joey wants to teach here.

Joey wants to teach here.

In each case, the overall impact of work and consumption taken together on “conditions of life” for Sabrina and Joey remains equal. This is Pareconish ethics. One may or may not like it. Similarly, one may or may not like Parecon erasing the idea of people getting income for property, for power, for having better tools, for happening to produce something of higher value, for having been lucky enough to be genetically endowed with particularly productive attributes like their flexibility or strength.

2) The second underpinning of Pareconish equitable remuneration has to do with the idea that a vision has to be able to work with real people in real settings. Most people think the issue now at stake will be incentives, but Parecon’s view of incentives is nearly upside down from most people’s intuitions. And there is another issue, having to do with information and people’s judgments.

The usual carrot and stick model doesn't work in Parecon.

The usual carrot and stick model doesn’t work in Parecon, even if it is vegan.

Regarding incentives, the usual formulation goes something like this: Consider the physiotherapist who has to go to college, medical school, become a resident, and only then be a practicing physiotherapist earning full therapist pay. The pay needs to be very high or he or she won’t follow the path. Take away high incentives for being a therapist, people won’t do it. And now you can fill in for therapist: doctor, lawyer, accountant, professor, high level designer, scientist, and so on. Thus, lacking high incentives for these jobs, we will die for want of essential social services.

Of course, presented that way, this is not true. To test the claim, think of telling a student leaving high school and hoping to be a therapist that a big change in society has made it the case that therapists’ salaries, instead of being, $150,000 a year, are now going to be $70,000 a year. Will the student then forget the idea of going to college, medical school, being a resident, and then being a physiotherapist – because she would rather go directly into waitressing at a diner tomorrow, for the next forty five years, even if we suppose waitressing pays $90,000 a year? Try asking some students. Not one will switch. Incentives are needed when one is being asked to do something more onerous, or time consuming, or intense – but you don’t need more incentives to get less duration, less intensity and less onerousness.

People do many things, very often for the sense of accomplishment it gives them or for the help it provides other people, including volunteering, playing, studying things of personal interest, helping folks, etc. These activities compete for people’s personal time, and also do not exhaust all the things that need doing. Some time, even in a worthy economy, has to go to work that isn’t as intrinsically rewarding as playing, or studying, or just resting, or being with family, and that is time that is unavailable for more pleasant and fulfilling pursuits. Some time also has to go to onerous work that is unpleasant and unfulfilled (like housework and cleaning), itself, even when we understand and are motivated by the benefits it bestows (keeping germs and illnesses like bubonic plague away). So, in the choice we make between how to spend our time, incentives make a difference.

From uglyhousephotos.com Seriously keep your kitchen clean. Rot attracts roaches, vermin and other unpleasantries.

From uglyhousephotos.com
Seriously, housework has it’s benefits. Rot attracts roaches, vermin and other unpleasantries.

Someone might reply to the above, “no, we don’t need to correlate income and work. We just need people to understand the importance of each and what is the responsible and moral choice to make, and they will act on that understanding.” Suppose, the same person says, “Parecon has great incentives which will yield a great allotment of people’s energies and of the social output that is just, fair, and rewarding for all. Even if that’s true, I believe we can get that same allotment without bribing folks with payment for labor. So why shouldn’t we?”

A first answer is that thinking of income rights as bribery for our time and effort is a bit odd – unless we are talking about income as it is in capitalist economies – but set that aside. In fact, if we break the link between work and income and have people work as they choose, however much, and at whatever they want – and have people consume as they choose – however much and whatever they want – and we don’t require a connection between the two decisions, we won’t get as good an allotment as with Parecon’s approach. People will typically choose to work too little for the social good to be optimally met, and people will choose to take too much for the system to even work because the available output will fall well short of available demands for income.

This first answer is accurate, not because people are either greedy, lazy, or irresponsible, but because people have no way to know what is responsible and moral and should not and will not ignorantly police themselves into working too much or having too little income.

Good people in a good economy should in fact prefer to work less hours, less intensely, and less onerously for a given income. And the same people should want to receive more income, for a given number of work hours, intensity, and onerousness. And indicating that they want less work and more income is critically important, actually, to the economy innovating to make it happen, to the extent it is possible and desirable taking into account social and ecological implications.

Pugs certainly understand the use of their time.

Pugs certainly understand the use of their time.

No one can know, abstractly, what is a “fair” amount to offer to work, or what is a “fair” amount to ask to consume. What is “fair” depends hugely on available tools, resources, knowledge, needs, desires, and so on. It is not an automatic, but has to become clear from a discussion, of what people, as consumers, want as income, and what the same people, as workers, want as their work conditions and duration. By disconnecting these two aspects of economy, we lose the means to know what is responsible and people are then left to curb their own appetites and desires, rather than express them. It probably shouldn’t need saying, but for completeness, people being able to work at anything they want is also hugely problematic. I would like to play professional hockey – but it has no social value – it should not be compensated.

The flip side of the above “incentive issue,” that has already largely changed into an information issue, the second answer to the concern raised earlier that we can get results without connecting work and income, is that without indications not just of people wanting yoga – where yoga is some product, or some leisure, or some types of work, or clean air, and so on – but of how much they want yoga relative to their other preferences, there is no way for producers to know how much yoga is appropriate to produce, or where to invest.

Self managing councils and equitable remuneration are very often pretty closely adopted in real circumstances by at least some real workplaces. Instructors co-ops that have no owner, don’t reward property, power, or output, and do have a council for decisions, are an obvious and frequent example. So are Occupied factories say like in Venezuela. In such examples, the owner either leaves or is ejected or didn’t exist from the get-go. Salaries are equalized but then typically vary for duration. Councils function democratically and often, even with teams deciding their own circumstances and using different tallying methods for different situations.

A problem often arises, however, when workplaces adopt these two Pareconish structures. In co-ops and occupied workplaces, often, over time, initial enthusiasm starts to fade. Most instructors s find themselves eventually skipping council meetings. Few people end up being the decision makers. Income differences widen. Alienation follows. And finally, instructorss often blame themselves. “This is who we are,” or “they think “or “It must be in our genes to have growing disparities of income, power, and circumstance” or “There really is no alternative.”

3) In such depressing situation, the third feature Parecon offers is called balanced job complexes, wherein all jobs are “balanced” so they each have roughly the same overall empowerment effect.

All jobs include various tasks. In corporate divisions of labor, about 80% of the workforce does jobs whose component tasks are usually disempowering. These jobs tend to fragment workers from one another, separate workers from decisions and from information about decisions, involve workers in rote and repetitive activity, and cause workers skills, confidence, knowledge of workplace relations, and familiarity with making choices, to steadily decline. In contrast, about 20% of the workforce does jobs whose tasks typically enhance ties to others, increase social skills, acclimate decision contexts, enlarge confidence and knowledge of workplace relations, and, in general, better empower people to participate in and impact decisions.

Parecon’s claim is that the corporate division of labor creates a class division between those who monopolize empowering work and those who are left with overwhelmingly disempowering work. Their position in the economy conveys advantages, up to and including even ruling class status, to what I like to call the coordinator class, in coordinatorism.

When adopted in occupied factories like those in Venezuela now, or in co-ops all over the world, the corporate division of labor leads to 20% of the workplace not only setting agendas and choosing actions, but eventually reimposing inequitable incomes, finally leading to ruling class status for themselves.

This means that in addition to self-managing councils and equitable remuneration, one needs a new division of labor if one is to have real self-management and real classlessness. This is why Parecon advocates balanced job complexes to be sure all are equipped to participate effectively, making self-management real.

4) The fourth feature Parecon offers has to do with the mechanisms which arrive at workplace and consumer inputs and outputs and their rates of exchange throughout the economy. History offers three main choices for allocation:
a) markets
b) central planning
c) voluntary self-regulation.

Markets impose anti-social motivations and unequal compensation norms as well as huge power differences and ecological irresponsibility. They violate self-management, and even create a “coordinator class” above workers.

Central planning (i.e communism) creates that same class division, and even more obviously violates self-management. It also tends to violate ecological responsibility and accumulates excess wealth for the planners (and whole coordinator class) while forcing obedience and domination, characteristics which often have an insidious way of spreading to other sides of life.

We are NOT talking about communism here...

We are NOT talking about communism here…

Voluntary self-regulation is a great idea – but in most formulations avoids important underlying issues. To have instructors self-regulate in accord with worthy values and real possibilities you need a way for people to determine what is responsible regarding both work and consumption, and a context which allows people’s well-being depend on and enhance the well-being of others, as well as a process that allows and self-managing input to each. Parecon’s allocation system is built on the idea of viable, collective self-regulation.

Good allocation should permit and facilitate wise and informed collective self-regulation to arrive at economic inputs and outputs that meet needs and develop potentials while also fostering solidarity, enhancing equity, and enacting self-management, all this in light of accurate awareness of the true social and ecological costs and benefits of all choices we address.

This is a big list of virtues, but it is what Parecon claims to achieve. The fourth defining feature of Parecon is called participatory planning. Instructors councils present proposals and by continually refining them interactively cooperatively negotiate, self-regulate inputs and outputs which are consistent with the decided upon methods remuneration and balanced job complexes, and in ways implementing collective self management. There is no top and bottom. There is no center. It is not a competitive rat race. There is no yogilebrity culture. Solidarity is literally produced, not anti-socialness which is the worst expression of hyper-individuality. But it doesn’t assume a population of omniscient and morally saintly people. Instead, simple structures enable, facilitate, and make such results serve the aim of everyone.

There are many things to address about Parecon’s institutions, even without mistakenly trying to turn them into an unknowable, impossible, and inappropriate blueprint. Arguably the most important matter is why would an anti-capitalist project, movement, or organization be better off if its members were Pareconist, regarding goals, then if they were simply anti-capitalist but didn’t have any shared conception of defining institutions to replace capitalism?

Capitalism in action.Bikram Chowdhury driving his Cadillac. (This is yoga?)

Capitalism in action.
Bikram Choudhury driving his Cadillac. (This is yoga?)

Categories: Politico, This is why the planet is screwed up, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

When The Dark Night of the Soul becomes a week, month, year or decade

I just finished reading Roseanne Harvey’s very honest blog post over at “It’s all Yoga Baby” on her experiences with depression lately and yoga, working or not working as the case may be.

I can relate completely.
I too have suffered from depression, mostly the situational variety (when enough bad things happen to you, that it puts you into a funk). I tried counselling, yoga, acupuncture and fish oils (I’m against meds) which were all short-term fixes but the underlying sense of ennui remains.

We've all had that feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, at some point or other.

We’ve all had that feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, at some point or other.

I do think there is something inherently evil and dehumanizing about capitalistic societies. Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen and before them, Karl Marx, said it right, that capitalism is a radical philosophy in that it is nothing more than the eventual commodification of all human life and all aspects of the natural world. In order to live in that market economy system, you have to join it and become a part of that machine. That machine has specific rules and even has it’s own language and philosophy.

From Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

From Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”

Like Roseanne, I too am in the midst of over-hauling my CV and the kinds of verbs and adjectives you can use are quite specific. It’s the language of the technocrat, it’s the language of “The Big Sell” and you’re the item up for sale. Only now, they couch it terms, of “marketability” or “adding value”.

A pretty apt description, methinks...

A pretty apt description, methinks…

As bad as job-hunting can be, whether you are currently employed, unemployed or under-employed, as bad as depression can be, whether that it is situational, clinical or chronic, I do think there is another factor at work here underneath the “itchiness” of late which seems to be affecting quite a number of people.

In my posting about the age of gurus being over, I had included this article from Wayne H. Purdin.

From page 32-33 of that article:
Thus, while the planetary energy spike may cause cataclysm, it will also transform our consciousness. The reason why was discovered by Dr. Valerie Hunt, Professor Emeritus of Physiological Sciences at UCLA. Hunt established the relation between electromagnetic field strength and consciousness and behavior in experiments using a shielded room, called the MU Room, in which the levels of electromagnetic energy, magnetism, and particle charges were manipulated. Dr. Hunt placed subjects in the MU Room and removed virtually every trace of electromagnetism. Hunt observed that the interaction between subjects increased. Subjects complained of tiredness, confused thinking, and they began to cry. Their nervous and endocrine systems reacted as though they were in peril. They lost their sense of boundaries, and their sense of body image disappeared. When the electromagnetic field was restored, all returned to normal. When it was increased beyond normal levels, the subjects’ thinking became clear and they reported an expansion in consciousness. (Hunt, 1996)

Get ready folks, because I do think that electromagnetism levels are going to skyrocket sooner than we think.This is just the darkest part of the night before dawn.

Sky9.17.04

No, it’s not the Mayan calendar ending and asteroids hitting us, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and the Planet Niburu making a surprise appearance. It’s not the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelations. It’s not Pee-Wee Herman going back on TV to host a new “Gong Show”.

Heaven forbid...

Heaven forbid…

We’re about to leave the Kali Yuga and I mean that literally. I’m going to leave it to wiser minds than my own to explain this particularly Hermetic astrologer Santos Bonacci. This is probably the best video I’ve seen on the shift of the ages and what 2012 is really about. It’s a long watch, but I promise, it’s worth it.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Those unseen things, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Anger is an Energy

from captainawkward.com

from captainawkward.com

Captain Awkward has an excellent post today on “How to train your Rageasaurus”. It’s probably the very first article I’ve read in months which actually makes sense and probably has some of the best advice on handling anger which I’ve read in quite a while.

I had already posted about a psychopathic yoga instructor I had a few years ago. What I did not post about was how deeply angry and hurt the fall-out was to not only me, but many other yoga enthusiasts and students who were also affected by the lies, the literal violence and the betrayal of trust. Afterwards, when talking to other people about it, I’d hear the usual platitudes of “let it go”, “forget about it and move on, you’ll heal faster that way”, “forgive and forget” as if switching off those feelings of rage were as easy as flicking a light switch. In short, the message was “Grin and bear it, forget it ever happened”.

This shit doesn’t work.

This was also compounded by the yoga community’s usual “blow love and light on it” jargon and the complete inability to acknowledge and understand the emotional and psychic implications of that anger. Moreover, no remedies or ways of addressing this sort of thing were offered in case this sort of thing happens again. To put it bluntly, that individual is free to repeat what they did in another town with another name and there are no mechanisms in place to prevent it.

From Captain Awkward:

“This Rageasaurus that you’ve created? It is wearing you out, but it also wants to protect you. The reason that you’re feeling hurt is …because these people lied to you, because they consistently cross your boundaries, because they expect you not to be hurt by their behavior while doing little to make amends, because they behave poorly and unreliably, because they expect you to take on too much of a burden, because these people who are supposed to care for you are making it clear that you have little priority in their shared life. Because they expect you to smile and eat potatoes when they want to play happy , and because you are not in a place where you can do that yet. Because they drain you,. They take an awful lot of your sparkle away, and they don’t give you much back….And your Rageasaurus stands up and roars when this happens. And they are coming from the places where your boundaries are being crossed….In its awkward, clumsy, saurus-y way, your Rageasaurus is standing up for you. When your mother breaks a date, you, the Glue of the Family, accept it. This makes the Rageasaurus roar even more, and you beat it with a big stick, because you think This Is How To Be Good. Then you feel worn out and cowardly. I’d like you to listen to it next time, and accept what it has to say: “No, this is not okay! I don’t like it when people treat you like this! RAWR!”

“You’d better pay attention to moi”

Society tells us that anger is bad. It especially tells women that anger is ugly and unladylike and that we’d be better off squelching those feelings into dust to then sprinkle them on some flowers. There’s no point in getting advice from friends because they pretty much have the same message in store for you. Spiritual books and teachings also are no better. They treat anger like a poison or an imp that you acknowledge but ignore it and it will eventually walk away.

Society tells us we need to act like Holly Hobby when we’re angry….

…when really, we sometimes want to act like Linda Fiorentino in “The Last Seduction”

I disagree completely. Like weeds which show up on your garden, those weeds are signalling mineral and nutritional deficiencies in the soil itself.

Anger, rage and discontent likewise are showing up places where you’re either being disrespected, used or hitting your injustice buttons. There is nothing wrong with anger by itself, it’s just another emotion like happiness or sadness, it’s how you choose to express it which counts. You can channel it into activism, you can set up a foundation, you can take up Thai kick-boxing or you can write a story out of it. But before you get there, you need to see it for what it is, anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Here’s former Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten, now John Lydon in his second band PiL, Public image Limited and the song “Rise” which perfectly talks about anger, I think:

They put a hot wire to my head
‘Cos of the things I did and said
And made these feelings go away
Model citizen in every way

Your time has come your second skin, cost so high the gain so low

Anger is an energy
Anger is an energy
Anger is an energy

Categories: Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Yoga | 9 Comments

The Unsound among us

Have you ever gone on a date with someone who does nothing but talks about themselves and doesn’t give the slightest indication that they might even remotely be interested in anything you have to say?

I’d be bored too.

Do you have friends on Facebook who post inappropriately close picture of themselves and their various body parts, like their amazing abs, or doing oiled up yoga poses on remote beaches or in tropical rain forests?

Do any of your friends post pictures like this of themselves on Facebook all the time?

Do you know people who keep asking you for help like when they need help to paint their apartment yet when you do the same, they’re suddenly nowhere to be found or are “very busy”?

Have you ever hung out with someone, at a party or at a gathering of some sort, where the person comes off as super-charming and super-nice yet when you meet them again, it’s suddenly like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

Mood swings are very common among psychopaths, narcissists and sociopaths.

Did you ever come across a pathological liar, a person who can lie as easily as they sleep, with exactly zero empathy for what other people may be experiencing and has insane mood swings?

Welcome to the world of narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths!

If the DSM-IV is right, then we’ve all encountered personalities of this type somewhere along the line. Psychopaths are supposed to be 1 in every 100. I’m willing to bet money that in the yoga and New Age communities, you need to increase those odds by 1000%.

Psychopaths are defined by:

– being extremely egotistical
– being very charming, appear very friendly, come across as easy to like
– being very manipulative of people around them, try to mold them into something they can use
– a stunning absence of empathy for others
– seen as someone without a conscience
– an ability to look at other people as mere objects for their own ends

Most psychopaths don’t look like this. It could be anyone.

I had the unfortunate experience of encountering a yoga instructor who, in hindsight, was and is most definitely a psychopath. I did not know it at all at the time. Like many people who encounter psychopaths, I was initially taken in and because of the whole yoga thing, the person seemed genuine and was a great instructor, but over time, something was off. I saw them humiliate students in class for not doing a certain pose. I saw them yell at a student for not listening to them. I even saw them make students sit in the corner because they were a few seconds late. This person even went up to me once and said that because I’m Indian, I have to try harder and speak louder because no one will look at me otherwise.  It took a good year for the stories to finally come out, and when they did, the studio refused to fire this person, because they had a following and brought in customers and cash. So I left along with many others. The backbone of the yoga community knows about this individual, but for those who are just getting into the business and the younger, impressionable instructors, many of them don’t know any better.

But it’s not just me.

Even a cursory stroll through the articles over at recoveringyogi.com and it would seem bat-shit crazy yoga instructors are the boon of most yoga enthusiasts. Or the male instructors are sleeping around creating soap opera situations at the studio. Or instructors are so obsessed with creating their “brand” that they overlook the most elementary aspect: the practice itself.

New Age cults are rife with personalities who are psychopaths and narcissists. Rick Ross’ website gives a very comprehensive listing of characteristics to look for and questions to ask, especially with respect to cults. I would hate to imagine another narcissist like David Berg emerge in yoga. I don’t know how people can learn about this stuff beforehand and using their wits and intelligence to discern real, authentic teachings from someone’s own nebulous “visions” which might end up doing more harm than good.

At the same time, it also makes me angry how these “teachers” or “leaders” can be so cavalier with their “teachings” and not realize how it can negatively impact someone down the road, that they can play on someone’s vulnerability to line their own pockets or inflate their own egos.

Don’t stop questioning, don’t accept anything at face value, never suspend your thinking and using BOTH lobes of your brain.

My own feeling is that people have to speak up more. Enablers have to be outed and confronted as well. Abuse of power, or trust, like all forms of abuse usually happens in silence and secrecy, in the dark and away from the gaze of others. Abusers almost count on the abused’s silence to keep continuing their behaviour. It’s when they are routinely confronted, that maybe something might click eventually and they will stop. There’s no guarantee but staying quiet won’t do anymore.

Use your voice intelligently and through the proper channels.

 

Categories: Ascension, Raise your EQ, Yoga | 11 Comments

Why New Agers/Spiritualists are probably among the most useless people in the world

From “As the World Burns: 50 things You Can Do to Stay in Denial” By Stephanie McMillan and Derrick Jensen, page 6, Seven Stories Press

What this cartoon depicts is something which has bothered me for ages now. It’s a certain passivity and lackadaisical worldview among the New Age/Spiritual and even at times, the yoga set.

Most of them employ a type of thinking which is called “magical thinking”. That somehow by meditating on a certain idea, or by “dedicating your yoga practice” and doing 108 Sun Salutations, that some magical aura of positivity will emanate from you, like a fuzzy gas cloud your dog just farted out and then goes around to transform the world into your version of the Garden of Eden.

Doing 108 of these in a row, will give you killer arms and abs, but it will not stop Japan from reactivating their nuclear power plants.

It’s nothing new. A few weeks ago I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s most excellent book,“Bright-sided: How The Relentless Promotion Of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America”.

Eye-opening read.

In the book, she outlined the historical basis of how all this magical thinking has seeped into the general culture, from corporate seminars with the likes of Landmark Education, to runaway trash best-sellers like “The Secret” or movies based on pseudo-science like “What the Bleep do we know?!”.

Fit for the bin.

It goes back to the end of the 19th century, oddly enough when industrialization and mass production also started. At that time it was called “New Thought” and it set up the base for the New Age movement decades later.

I’ve also seen it at the yoga studio. Where every autumn and spring equinox, there’s usually a Yoga Mala being held somewhere. Donate your $20 for a local charity, do 108 Sun Salutations and achieve World Peace! Sounds groovy, right?

I don’t think so.

If anything, it is a form of the corporate state to control the masses and it is a form of extremely deceptive thinking and it goes something like this. “If we can deceive you to just sit at home and meditate on world peace or meditate on abundance or Ganesha’s third eye, and take no other real-world action, we can still go ahead and send in drones to bomb Pakistan or instigate Israel to start a war with Iran (so screw your peace). If we can deceive you to read books like “The Secret” or “The Power of Positive Thinking” and fall for them, you’ll be too distracted to see what we are really doing behind your back. Plus you’ll be too afraid, too distracted and in too much debt to ever take real, meaningful action, like fight us in the streets and expose us to the world and what we really do.You feel bad about all this bombing and world hunger? Well, just give your money to some charity to ease your guilty conscience, we’ll be able to buy them out anyway and make sure the status quo is continued. Guaranteed.”

While I agree keeping a positive frame of mind is important for day-to-day life, it cuts down on the irritation and your blood pressure  when a rude driver cuts in or when someone with 15 items is in front of you in the 10 items or less line at the supermarket, it’s just not everything.

Road rage isn’t good for you either.

Achieving things like world peace, equal rights and abundance FOR ALL takes work. Serious grunt-work. It means getting involved in grass-roots movements, going to demonstrations, boycotting companies or entities which are hurting people and the land. It means being an active citizen of the world. It means doing research, reading up on the issue of your choice and then really doing something about it. Just hiding out at your yoga studio, temple, church, mosque etc. does not achieve anything. If you’re really serious about changing the world for the better, your ideals have to be coupled with action. This video below shows how slavery had a lot to do with the sugar trade and and what people had to do to stop it. It’s an example worth thinking about and analyzing seriously.

I’ve also noticed something else in recent years. That radical activism has a sheen of coolness to it which these corporate types and enablers have tried to siphon back on themselves, to make themselves look cool (and somehow that translates into more followers and more money).

I thought it was extremely disingenuous when the likes of Russell Simmons, Deepak Chopra, Sean Corne, and Elena Brower showed their faces at Occupy Wall Street in NYC last fall.

Every last one of them personally benefit from the capitalist system and have yearly annual incomes well over the 6-digit range. That they can somehow show up in Zucotti Park with people who have lost their homes in foreclosures, students with PhD’s and MA’s who can’t find work, people who normally would never be able to afford in 5 back-to-back lifetimes to go on an overseas yoga retreats with someone like Brower, in my mind, stinks of opportunism and phoniness.

If these New Agers and Yoga “Teachers” are serious about alleviating the suffering that many are going through, they also have to help in dismantling that very system which created it in the first place, instead of trying to work around it or within it. Nothing less will do. But as it is, they benefit too much from it, so why ever say or do anything which will have real impact?

So chant all you want, pray all you want, meditate all you want, wait all you want while the world burns. Nothing is going to change out there unless it’s coupled with informed action.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, This is why the planet is screwed up, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 49 Comments

Change? Umm…not quite

Tomorrow is 9-11.

11 years to that fateful day when all hell broke loose and the Neo-conservative  hounds were unleashed on the world. I’ll be very upfront here, I’m one of the “conspiracy-weirdos” who do think 911 was an inside job. To me, it’s just a question of time before some crucial piece of undeniable evidence falls into place and the whole bloody thing is called out on and exposed for the world to see. Just like some nasty, hard-core, triple X sex video involving George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice proving they had something going on right underneath everyone’s noses. I can’t wait for *that* day.

11 years on and no one seems any wiser and we look like we’re about to repeat history again for the umpteenth time. Just replace the “Q” with the “N” in Ira_ and you’ll see what I mean. Our fucktard Prime Minister Stephen Harper has officially cut off all diplomatic relations with Iran, closing our embassy in Tehran and kicking out Iranian diplomats out of Canada.

Birds of a jerky feather, flocking together.

This got me thinking about the real nature of “change”. Do people really change? I personally don’t think they do unless they have no other choice and are forced to, like a smoker who suddenly develops emphysema, or a drinker who loses her liver or a domestic rapist who  gets  his member cut off. I know that sounds a bit harsh and by no means do I advocate these mechanisms of “change” but I have to wonder about human beings sometimes.

Would this picture make a smoker change their habits?

We’re creatures of habit, we actually don’t like to change things too much. Next to divorce, changing jobs and changing marital status are listed as the biggest stressors in life. Who hasn’t seen their friends complain about a particular idiot boyfriend or girlfriend who breaks up with them to only see these same friends date another specimen of the exact same variety, over and over again? And complain about that new person, over and over again? No interior work whatsoever in between. Or what about friends and neighbors who complain that they hate their back yard or their jobs yet when you give them some concrete suggestions which might make them happier, suddenly there’s a rationalization why things aren’t *that* bad after all and that they will manage. And a few weeks later, the complaints start up again? I’ve learned to listen with only one ear now. People who really want to change themselves and their lives for the better, don’t talk about it, they go out there and do it.

I suppose the same can be said of governments, only with money and power involved, the intentions get much more sinister and the motives are driven by self-interest.  Look at the push for biotech and the rush to map out the genome of practically every living thing on this planet. The popular press and politicians make it sound like if we can just do that, we’ll have medical discoveries literally at our fingertips and cures will be found within months for a whole plethora of illnesses. Sounds benevolent and grandiose and amazing, right? Hardly.

The push for the Human Genome is not for entirely altruistic and benevolent reasons.

The push for any sort of technological development, particularly in the West, has always been motivated by military defense and profit. That includes the internet which came out of military technology. That the internet could have all these uses for the public was a secondary and tertiary thought. If this paper by the ultra-conservative Project for the New American Century is anything to go by, the push to  map out the human genome is a push to develop weapons which attack specific genotypes to militarily control, kill or use those population groups. That’s all investing into biotech companies  will lead to.  And people keep doing it so they can keep making money and a mute, comfortable public stays quiet and hardly puts up a  fight. Where’s the change there?

I hate Neocons.

11 years on and the world looks like it is about to repeat themselves all over again and I don’t think humanity learned anything at all. Change is hard and difficult, I’ll admit that. If there was one thing that yoga did teach me is that holding some uncomfortable poses/asanas showed me where I was weak and inflexible in my body and it was hard and difficult to change those bits and pieces. It still is. But it also taught me that change is much easier to manage when I direct it rather than wait around for someone else to direct or impose that change on me. It becomes much more powerful still when I can see the changes in me reflected in the group and circumstances around me as well.

It still hurts when I do this pose, especially the balancing version.

Wake up, people. It’s all nice and dandy  when you say that you want to be the change that you want to see. It’s another thing entirely when there’s a clock timing all of us  somewhere.

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, Conspirio, Politico, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Think like the Illuminati, This is why the planet is screwed up, Yoga | Leave a comment

Interview with an Exorcist

As some of you know, I recently finished reading up a few books on demonology, and I was quite surprised to understand that this supposedly antiquated office of the Catholic Church is alive and kicking, and even thriving in some parts of the world, particularly in Rome where priests practically have “drop-in” exorcism clinics. After reading “The Rite” by Matt Baglio, it would seem that there’s even a demand for priests to learn the rites of exorcism, especially in the United States.

Exorcist Fr Gabriele Amorth

If Christian demographics are anything to go by, the Catholic Church has been losing members for years now for many reasons. The church cover-up of sexually abusive priests no doubt has something to do with it as well as their positions on abortion, their views on homosexuality, the role of women in the church and the fact that, for whatever reason, traditional Catholic doctrine just does not resonate anymore to many people.

Fr.Thomas Euteneuer sexually assualted women.

“The Rite” cites that according to the church, there has been a steady increase of reported cases of demonic possession, demonic infestation and demonic oppression mostly because what the church considers to be the occult, is now so widespread and accessible to all. But what I found surprising was what precisely the Church defines as “occult”. It is not just their traditional targets like Satanism, Freemasonry, witchcraft, Wicca, shamanism and pagan religions, but it also includes New Age ideas, yoga (!), Harry Potter, astrology, Reiki, good luck charms and amulets, all of which was news to me.

Harry Potter is a no-no for some Catholics

Intrigued, I wanted to find out more but didn’t have the faintest clue on how to get some answers given that I’m not even Christian, let alone Catholic and normally the names of exorcist priests are only known by the bishop and that requests for exorcism usually go through that channel. I looked up the International Association of Exorcists in Rome and they graciously referred me to a local priest who shall remain anonymous and for the purposes of this post, I will name Fr.Henry.

Here’s our discussion:
FH: Fr. Henry
EER: Earth Energy Reader

EER: Fr. Henry, let’s say I’m someone who doesn’t believe in demons, does not practice the occult arts, not particularly religious in any way but do consider myself spiritual in that I believe there is a deeper more real spiritual reality underlying this physical one, I might visit a website or two to cast my horoscope, I go to yoga at my local YMCA three times a week, would I be someone vulnerable to possession?

FH: It would depend on the circumstances but yes.

EER: How so?

FH: Well, let’s deconstruct all those items you mentioned.

Hummingbird pose attracts what exactly?

EER: OK, how could yoga be considered occult? It’s a serious spiritual practice for many people in this world and has helped many change their lives for the better. For millions more, they do it as a way to relax or a form of fitness and there is nothing spiritual in it for them or for those who offer it at exclusive health spas and gyms.

FH: First I would ask, are they chanting mantras?

EER: Not all yoga studios do. Why is that important?

FH: Because with mantras, you are creating a vibrational field around you by chanting them. It operates on principles of magnetism. When you do that, how do you know what sort of thing you’re attracting to yourself? Can you tell? Can you be certain? What sort of environment is it?

EER: Many yoga studios are very relaxed and are filled primarily with women but I have been to studios where everyone is hot and sweaty and it can be a sexually charged or suggestive atmosphere and the women outnumber the men 8:1. Is that what you mean?

FH: Yes, exactly.

EER: But what about the people who are just doing it for fitness reasons, no chanting, no reading Hindu scripture, like when it’s offered at the local gym? People go to the gym to sweat and for fitness, say for aerobics classes. How is that any different?

FH: Ah, see people might be thinking they’re doing yoga, especially here in the West, for “fitness reasons”. But those postures were not initially developed for “fitness reasons” in India, they were developed to attract certain qualities and induce certain states of mind. By doing them, you’re inadvertently playing with magnetism again and by doing so, how do you know for sure “what” you’re attracting to yourself?

EER: I never thought about it in that way before. What about if someone gives me a good luck charm bracelet? Why would the Catholic Church take a dim view of something that harmless?

Think twice before accepting that new charm for your charm bracelet

FH: See this pencil on my desk?

EER: Yes.

FH: Say someone gave it to me as a souvenir good-luck present from Cuba. And I accept it and here it is, sitting on my desk. How do know that they did not consecrate to the devil before they gave it to me? And they just gave it to me saying it’s a “good luck charm”? And if it was consecrated beforehand to a darker entity whether it is a pagan god or the devil, by allowing that object to sit on my desk, that is basically an opening, a door or gateway, if you will for the demonic to enter my home or place of work.

EER: Really? But you can argue about that for just about anything then. Gifts, food, clothing?

FH: Yes, absolutely and we do. We don’t think that there’s a demon lurking beneath each chair. However, we would caution about accepting gifts or amulets that are supposed to be for “good luck”, ingesting food and drink given to you by someone who practices the occult, wearing clothing given to you as a gift because “this color will bring you luck”. If any of these things have been consecrated to the occult beforehand and you have no knowledge of it, that’s an opening for the demonic to literally walk right into your life.

EER: Fr. Henry, there’s a lot of people I know who do practice things like astrology, Reiki and Wicca and do it to help other people and come from a place of genuine service. I suppose you can almost say it’s a form of white magic. They would be as repelled as you are to things like Satanism. Don’t their good intentions count for something?

Reiki: another no-no for some

FH: The Church’s position is that white magic and black magic are playing with the same force, the same origin, only their intentions differ.

EER: How is that any different from sincere prayer?

FH: Prayer, which invokes the Lord, belongs to the Lord. Prayer which invokes another spirit, even if the intention is pure, is invoking that spirit. Again, how do you know that prayer is going where you want it to go? Is it being directed to the entity you called up and not another? For us Catholics, the only no-fail, mistake-proof way of getting prayers heard is to direct it to the Lord, Jesus.
(at this point I wanted to bring up Catholics praying to specific saints and the Virgin Mary but I felt the discussion would then just go off into theology and I wanted to stay on-topic).

EER: Why are astrology and Harry Potter books considered so dangerous in the Vatican’s view?

FH: Astrology works to predict things, like tarot cards and the Ouija Board. When you ask these things questions and you receive a reply in the cards or by looking at charts, who or what answered your question? Do you know for sure? Are you sure of their intentions towards you? The future is not ours to know, we can only go into it with faith.

EER: And Harry Potter?

FH: (laughing) The books themselves are charming and harmless, but it’s the ideas they might implant in children about casting spells and making the black arts seem glamorous and powerful. You have read CS Lewis’ books?

Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole trying to get back into Narnia in CS Lewis’ “The Silver Chair”

EER: Yes, the Chronicles of Narnia are among my favorites, and wasn’t CS Lewis a Christian apologist himself?

FH: Yes, he was. You must have read “The Silver Chair”?

EER: Yes, I did.

FH: Do you remember how the boy and girl got back into Narnia?

EER: Aslan, the Lion called them back.

FH: Yes, he did but before that?

EER: No, I don’t remember.

FH: The girl suggested drawing a circle in the ground with symbols and invoking Aslan. The boy dismissed the suggestion because it implied that by doing that ceremony you could somehow control the will of Aslan. In the same way, playing around with ceremonies implies that you can somehow control the will of God, and it doesn’t work like that. That’s why the Vatican takes a hard position around the Harry Potter books, it doesn’t help anyone for children to think they can do that.

EER: I have been involved with Native ceremonies for years, and they have always called up the Great Creator. Why is that any different that calling up the Lord? Isn’t it just a difference in wording?

FH: Because we call upon Jesus Christ, we view Him as the only way.
(by now I know if I push this, it will go into nothing but theological differences and those arguments never go anywhere and decide to leave it at that).

EER: Thank you Father Henry, I have to admit, I learned quite a number of new things today and you’ve given me plenty to think about. If I have any more questions, can I contact you?

FH: Yes of course, thank you and God bless.

Categories: Those unseen things, Uncategorized, Yoga | 12 Comments

Let’s try this again…

As some of you may or may not know, my yoga article got picked up by Elephant Journal a few days ago and after a few thousand hits, several hundred FaceBook shares and many, many comments on EJ as well as Reddit, I think a few details need to be clarified.

1) I’m not an anti-white racist bigot, despite what many of the thinly-veiled racist comments there indicated.
Anyone who has read my blog and picked up my vibe knows how insanely crazy that assertion is. I mean really, Indians are actually considered members of the Caucasian race as well. One of my family branches is white and so are a great majority of my friends and neighbors. I harbour the most insane  naughty fantasies crushes on a bunch of white dudes like Henry Rollins, Michael Fassbender  and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien. My article is basically about pointing out the lack of diversity, the cultural (mis)appropriation and the excessive commercialization of yoga these days.

Who in their right mind would be racist towards *this*????

2) I don’t hate yoga, I dislike the commercialized and contrived culture which has grown up around it. There are a few of us left who look at yoga as a spiritual discipline and the immense healing potentialities it offers and actually don’t want to have anything to do with this “market or spa yoga”.  Ditto for “rock star yoga”.

Not!

3) Yes, I’m angry and frustrated at what’s happened to yoga. So shoot me.
It would seem airing anger and frustration is some kind of a taboo now and even more galling by someone who knows how to spell properly. As one reply on EJ rightly pointed out, anger is just a feeling. What’s important is how you express it and deal with it and I expressed mine in that article.

There are far more constructive ways of expressing anger.

4) Rocking the boat will not make you popular and neither will writing a controversial article.
I wrote that article to air my opinion and perhaps it was strongly worded but sometimes the only way real and meaningful dialogue can happen is by being as blunt and direct as possible. I think by being excessively diplomatic or politically correct, you end up with an argument that almost looks like a white-out and goes no where – sorry, I couldn’t resist 😉
5) Relax, people it’s an article, not a hand grenade.
I was hoping the article would provide some food for thought and even some self-reflection. Why are you really doing yoga? It was never meant to offend anyone or their practice…Except maybe the Lululemon clad mall rats who were going to go to GLBL Yoga in Central Park.
So to my naysayers, chill. Like seriously. Chill. Wanna come over sometime for home-made curry, samosas and pistachio kulfi instead? My Punjabi Lamb shanks in spinach and tomato sauce are known to be restaurant level gourmet fare (sorry, I’m not vegetarian but I can always offer you Aloo Gobi and Pakoras instead) We can sit on my porch, eat with our hands and discuss. Just bring a bottle of wine (Vinho Verde, Pinot Grigio or Reisling) or some sangria please.

There’s no such thing as too much sangria!

Categories: Raise your EQ, Yoga | 18 Comments

Spiritual Attachments

Some folks have emailed me personal messages asking about the topic on how do you learn to discern and avoid bad folks (something I mentioned in my intro to the posting on the patient I dealt with in ICU).

 For the record, I’m not any sort of expert. I don’t perform exorcisms and I am not psychic (though having such gifts would be really cool). I just have my instincts and go with my gut feeling.

 Bad spiritual attachments are nothing new. For example, the old Catholic Church used to call them demons and even had an entire branch of study devoted to it called demonology. They have since let it go and do not talk about this much anymore. And while you would be hard pressed to find a Catholic priest willing to talk about exorcism these days, the rites of exorcism are still a part of the Catholic canon. In every diocese, there is one priest who knows how to perform these rites and the only person who has the name of this priest is the archbishop.  Requests have to go through him first.

Scene from “The Exorcist”

 Each tradition and culture has it’s own interpretation of these spirits, but these bad attachments by and large, seem to be human, non-human, separable souls, or discombobulated or disincarnate spirits which have never inhabited a body.  I’m sure you must have heard of stories where people say something along the lines of, “I don’t know what came over me, but something suddenly made me do it,” and the person then goes on to do something horrible which he normally would never do. You can easily Google “demonology” and you’ll get almost half a million hits.

Low-frequency entities on the astral plane

 It doesn’t seem to be a topic of discussion anymore these days except perhaps among ghost-hunters, those in satanic circles or those who practice Black Magick. I personally don’t know since I don’t fraternize with such individuals and don’t frequent these circles. It’s just based on what I pick up from the internet. I think the only other person who speaks of them these days is author Stuart Wilde, only he calls them ghouls.

It’s not as simple as saying, “Oh well, I had a bad attachment and it made me do it.” That’s only half of it. They will figure you out and take advantage of whatever weakness they detect in you. In other words, if you provide a suitable environment for them, it makes it much easier for them to operate. Therefore the burden of responsibility falls on you to not allow them in. Clean your “house” and your issues and they can’t find a hook to hang their hat on.

He made me do it!

 They are known to be tricksters. Very manipulative, very cunning. They have a way of making all the things in your life go wrong or tricking you into making decisions you later regret. They play up on your insecurities (which is why working on your fears is of paramount importance). In the Native sweat lodge, people go into to the lodge in a clockwise direction. The 4 rounds representing the 4 cardinal directions also are done in a  clockwise direction. I have been in lodges where an attachment was finally cut off from a person, like a parasite finally cut off from it’s “host”, the attachment started moving in a counter-clockwise direction and the lodge Elder had to be able to contain it and release it properly. In the hands of someone less competent, the attachment finds someone new, a new host right away.

People are expelling all sorts of negative, toxic psychic energies in healing places like sweat lodges but also in places like hospitals. Some ancient sites, where great evil took place has them too (which is why I refuse to go to Mexico and go near that bad human-sacrifice Aztec mojo). It’s a toxic dump on the astral plane. People just don’t realize it because no one talks about this stuff publicly anymore and more importantly, no one talks about fighting this stuff off. Places like bars, nightclubs, raves, casinos, strip joints, places where you have an excess of sexual energy that has no true love, an excess of gambling, alcohol and drugs, are full of these entities.

Another place worth mentioning, which might surprise some of you, is the yoga studio. Yoga is extremely sexual and the intent on which you practice it is everything. Like I posted earlier on why I left yoga, yoga is increasingly becoming a new pick-up joint/meat market.

Not exactly the cleanest nor healthiest of  environments…

In the last year, I discovered that I too had an attachment. I won’t go into what finally helped me see this realization but suffice to say I had to find a way to get rid of it and am now very careful about who I spend time with and where I go. I found help from but I also had to reflect on what was going on inside of me to have brought this on which I am also working on.

Part of the solution has meant smudging my residence regularly with either cedar, sage or sweetgrass (the 4 holy plants according to the Medicine Wheel, including tobacco). Keeping orgonite around my home everywhere (will write more on orgonite in another post). Keeping the home clean (attachments like dirt and dust). In essence, consecrating my home to the good in this universe. It has also meant consecrating myself and my life.

Holy Hand Grenades!

This means, I don’t go to bars anymore or to clubs (I’m too old anyway), doing exercise regularly, playing with my pug, eating whole foods, no alcohol, no drugs, no flouride, pure water, no refined white sugar or flour, organic fruits, veggies and organic free-range meat, no sexual promiscuity. Getting some fresh cut flowers and plants for the house and keeping cacti near the door and/or windows. Keeping satchets of sea salt crystals around also. Carrying a small one on me. Encircling my house, outside, with a line of plain sea salt crystals (super cheap at your local drugstore in the bath section, the cooking kind is over-priced).  No crappy music (Lady Gaga, Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Top 40 radio—> check out The Vigilant Citizen’s website if you want to know more about this topic). Turning the TV off, going to the the library and taking out inspiring old movies and DVDs and documentaries. Spending more time in nature. Listening to music or read books that uplift me and keep me there. Not neglecting my health, going for acupuncture, massage therapy, whatever I need, getting my yearly check-up. Getting off of FaceBook, taking off my blinders and offloading friends and frenemies who are either emotional vampires or bring me down or seem to be negativity and/or drama magnets.

Spending time with animals or in nature

OK, all of that is the “outside” work, then there is the “inside” work and that means changing thinking patterns and focuses. Again, I can only say what has been helping me, you need to find out what might work for you because what works or resonates with me, may not for you since we’re all different. Constantly reminding myself that it it not just *ME* . When you realize that it’s not just all you, that’s half the battle right there. Being able to identify it and name it and then walk away from it.

 I don’t mean to be a killjoy or to judge anyone but sexual promiscuity is a big one here.Think of all that energy being exchanged. Sex is really the ultimate in terms of energy tranference which is why it is such a big deal to those persons who practice ritualistic magick.

Occult groups have been practicing sex magick for centuries. Not just Tantra in India, but the Dionysian orgiastic cults in Ancient Greece as well.

Now think about someone who is promiscuous in their lifestyle, someone who isn’t into black magick or anything but just really enjoys sex and has many, many partners. There isn’t just a risk of picking up STDs, there is also the risk of picking up attachments from others partners or from those partner’s former partners and so on. The risk grows very quickly the more partners you’ve had and the more partners your former partners have had. Again there is no judgement here, but practically every person I’ve met who had a reputation for having a promiscuous lifestyle, something always seemed off…Either I didn’t feel safe around them or they gave off this sort of neurotic, hyper-kinetic, jumpy, unsettling vibe. Not trustworthy in the least.

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov had this to say about attachments and entities on the astral plane:

“Men and women think that the sexual act concerns only them because they perform it in private. Well, they are mistaken. And people who have been able to keep a clear mind during all the excitement have realized that what they were experiencing produced emanations that served to feed entities of the astral world. These entities are so greedy that they were obliged to let them feed themselves at their expense, which meant that they lost a great deal of precious energies. But since they are not capable of analyzing themselves, all these ignoramuses shout: ‘Ah, that was pure ecstasy!’, when in fact other entities were enjoying themselves through them. So long as people continue to live a life based on passions and instincts, they will be robbed by these lower creatures. If they live a life of true love, however, they will become stronger, more beautiful and they, not the others, will be the true winners.”

You’re never completely alone…

Readings

“Looking into the Invisible: Intuition, Clairvoyance, Dreams” – Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov , Vol.228 Izvor Collection

“Love and Sexuality, Vol.1” – Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, Complete Works Vol.14

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Categories: Ascension, Raise your EQ, Those unseen things, Uncategorized, Yoga | 9 Comments

Why I left yoga (and why I think a helluva lot of people are being duped)

Like millions of Westerners out there, I too joined the yoga bandwagon about eight years ago after trying out my first Bikram class, moving on to Moksha and then settled at a hot yoga studio which practices all types of yoga in a hot space.

I too fell in love with how yoga made my body feel after a particularly tough workout.

I too fell into the pseudo-spiritual aspects of the practice.

And, finally I too got burned out by the practice, disillusioned and at times, even disgusted at the people who I thought should be setting an example to the rest of us but turns out that they are even more messed up than you realize and the yoga was just an effective cloak to hide their true nature and personalities.

For me, it was and always will be the health benefits of yoga which attracted me and still keeps me around but I also, perhaps in my naïveté, thought the people who were a part of the scene would be as sincere as they appeared to be. I had read every book out there, was thoroughly sick of the new age charlatans claiming to have psychic abilities all in the name of Mr. Dollar and selling their wares, whether it was books, weekend retreats or $1000 seminars and very disenchanted with what the so-called “good life” of a westernized professional was offering (it’s a formula, no more) . With yoga, I finally felt that I found something authentic, based on authentic teachings, plus I was feeling great afterwards. The people seemed nice; they had read and kept quoting all the great seers and sages of the centuries. Aurobindo, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Rumi, Hafiz and more recently, writers like Eckhart Tolle. They were into the green movement, recycling and genuinely concerned about Mother Earth. They wear Toms and donated to legitimate foundations like Unicef, Right to Play etc.

But a few nagging observations wouldn’t leave me.

1) First of all, I’m of Indian heritage. I’m brown. You look at me and you know I’m ethnic. I speak the language and still have many extended family members there and have gone back often. By and large, and I’m generalizing since it’s not always the case, but yoga in the West is increasingly becoming a trendy diversion for the affluent and bored or those who are obsessed with the body beautiful and the cult of hedonism which follows that.  Now I see yoga branching out in such things like “Chocolate Yoga” or “Trance Dance Yoga”, where in short, the culture of the nightclub or rave is being super-imposed on yoga. India is still deeply conservative socially. Arranged marriages are still the norm in the villages and were also the norm in the big cities until maybe 20 years ago. Binge drinking, sexual promiscuity and drug taking, which are elements of the club culture are strongly frowned upon and considered socially unacceptable in many social circles in India but yet it is being passed off as something that is a part of yoga by North American suburban kids and marketers looking for the next big trend, when that is just not true.

yoga-rave-atlanta

2) It is extremely classist. It lacks plurality and inclusiveness. I do not see many people of blue-collar backgrounds who can afford these classes on a regular basis and many of them are precisely the ones who could probably benefit the most from yoga. Most of the studios in my city charge around $1200 for an unlimited yearly membership.  That’s serious coin. I can hardly  envision a stressed, single mother trying to raise her kids on social assistance being able to afford that when she probably needs the benefits of yoga more than the pampered trophy wife who just returned form her 5-star shamanistic initiation retreat in Bolivia. I walk into most of my yoga classes and I see nothing but a sea of white faces, maybe the token black and Asian. Some people may read that as a racist statement but I’m not trying to be racist and this isn’t a reverse racism argument either, it is just my observation. Yoga in North America caters to the affluent and is falling in line with the capitalist system of profit. It is increasingly distancing itself from the roots of yoga.

I can barely make out one non-Caucasian at this Bikram yoga training session.

If anyone can find a non-Caucasian here, let me know.

3) It is really annoying watching some white people try to act ethnically brown when they are not and they never will be. Intention is everything here. I can understand there is a difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, but when the Pussy Cat Dolls show up in saris at some premier, you have to ask yourself, what the intention here is.

Pussy Cat Dolls at the 2008 Fashion week Fashion Rocks concert

Pale women with Shiva tramp-stamps do not look good in saris doing Bollywood dance moves or wearing bhindis especially if they have freckles (Like, really).  For Indian women, this is part of their cultural heritage and identity, not some gimmicky hip trend to try out and pose around in until the next trend shows up.

Happy woman dancing in sari

5) Sanskrit, like Latin, is a dead language. Let it go already. The Catholic Church let go of the Latin Mass after Vatican II back in the early 1960s. Chanting in Sanskrit does not make you look cool nor does it make you an automatic Hindu. Or an authority on yoga, Vedic studies or Indology (Yes, that is a real academic subject). Nor does having a made up Sanskit-derived moniker name make you any more real either with names like Blissananda, Ganeshananda, Serenityananda etc.

Ganeshananda – I’m wondering how many Indian followers does he have?

6) Just because it’s exotic does not mean it’s real or more authentic. Real Indians, in India make fun of many Westerners behind their  backs  and are making money off of their ignorance. Do you see real, native Indians in the fancy, expensive ashrams in India? No. Do you see many native Indians “following” your Guruji? Probably not.  Do you see many Indian women at these open air clothing-optional Tantric weekend couples workshops in Hawaii? Did you ever ask why not?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Many, many of these so-called gurus and God-men (and women) of India are scam artists but because their ashrams and centres bring in so much, much-needed cash and tourist dollars, the Indian government looks the other way and in fact, are in on it too. There is nothing spiritual about it. It’s a cash cow and they are milking many Western followers of yoga for all they can get. Not always, I’m generalizing. There are some authentic teachers left in India but they’re usually just minding their own business and not interested in selling anything or proselytizing people. Unfortunately, the former is happening more frequently than the latter.

(I heartily recommend anyone who is interested in this topic to watch this BBC documentary on Sai Baba called “The Secret Swami”.)

Another yogi who pretty much indirectly admits Caucasians are inferior to Indians is Bikram Chowdhury. In his 60 minutes interview  he said that the intense physical aspects of Bikram yoga is more “suitable” to  North Americans because they need to discipline themselves physically before they can start  on the spiritual and psychic and that it’s not necessary for Indians.  That somehow the physical and mental make up of Caucasians is different from Indians and therefore they need to do an additional step of rigorous physical training before attempting anything spiritual. Does anyone  see the double-speak and double-standard here? ( at 1:15 and 10:10)

Bikram Chowdhury on 60 Minutes

They are promising you Enlightenment just as long as you pay up or keep giving enforced “donations”, but it does not work that way. Why do you think celibate Buddhist monks devote their entire lives living in monasteries under vows of poverty, living off of alms trying to achieve Enlightenment? Because it’s excruciatingly hard work and it takes a lot more than a weekend retreat or two plus reading a best-seller to get there.

Thai Forest Tradition Buddhist monk

7) Yoga can become cultic very quickly and the levels of self-absorption and narcissism can sky-rocket easily if you don’t watch it so keep your radar tuned in.  I have heard stories of certain Jivamukti yoga instructors threatening to cut off friendships with other yoga instructors from other traditions because they were not completely vegan.

Really folks? That’s all you can worry about and think about? There’s a nuclear reactor in Japan which is about to fail and spells disaster for the West coast of North America. Workers in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal are on the frontlines fighting technocrats and bankers who are trying to rob them of their right to live in some semblance of dignity and respect. There’s a Maoist insurgency in central India and peasants are trying to keep their land from mining companies and THIS is what you have to bicker about?

A woman runs from anti riot police during a demonstration in central Athens, Greece

8) The level of cultural awareness among some of the yoga set is pitiful at times and yet this is the same crowd that tries to come off as cultural and spiritual mouthpieces for that sub-continent. It is truly a subcontinent, with vast differences in culture, religion, diet, language, customs, and history. The only commonality you will find among Punjabis, Gujaratis, Marathis, Rajasthanis, Bengalis, Tamils, Goan, Keralites, Nepalis, Uttar Pradeshi, Kashmiri, Assamese, Ladakhs, Orissians etc is possibly the brown skin, if that. Once upon a time, all these provinces and territories were their own kingdoms and countries and were amalgamated and consolidated into one state and created into “India” by the British. Think of them as entirely different countries with their own unique identities. You wouldn’t mix up a Pole with a Russian (and if you did, they’d probably punch you), so why should you mix up a Tamil with a Punjabi?

You have no idea how annoying it is to hear some girl at the yoga studio look at you and say “Oh, I have an Indian friend and her parents made her get married to some computer engineer in San Jose and she had to get this thing signed with witnesses, what’s that about?”

Me: “Was she Sikh?”

Girl: “No, I think she’s Muslim”.

Me: “Well, I’m Sikh so I’m not really sure”

Girl: “But she’s Indian, just like you.”

Me: “Yeah, but we have many different religions in India and practise things differently…”

And it just goes downhill from there….

In the end, I began to see how vacuous the scene was becoming and has become. I still love the feeling I get after doing a session but I just can’t stand to be around the high-school popularity contest atmosphere which has permeated many of the studios these days and some of the more vapid personalities who are claiming to be instructors and taking advantage of their privileges.

yogagroupstockphoto

I know they are not all like that, there are some genuine well-meaning people in that community and some of them are truly doing outstanding work like outreach into prisons and so forth. But for me personally, I’m questioning the profit-driven, hedonistic aspects which seems to have taken over the subculture.

Yogadork recently had an article asking if yoga needs to grow up.

In short, yes. Big time.

Addenda: I will no longer post any comments which quite obviously show that the poster has not taken the time out to either read or watch the links I provided below nor took the time out the read the comments already posted in their entirety but instead feel their drive-by analysis and knee-jerk reactions suffice as a form of discussion.

Other Links

Diversity Training: Do Yoga teachers and YTT programs need it?

Sacred Justice: Where Yoga, Solidarity & Activism Meet (Workshop review)

Let’s Try This Again…

To anyone who needs to understand the difference between anger and hate, sexism, racism, and white privilege.

Why cultural appropriation hurts

Yoga and the exclusion of people of color

Why I really want to give up on yoga

Why I will Never give up on yoga

For anyone who needs to understand WHY issues of cultural appropriation, inclusion and plurality is not about visible minorities “getting over the whole race thing” but rather understand that this is a “white problem”, please watch these videos of “The Color of Fear” (and if you can find a copy of the entire film it is well worth your while) as well as this documentary, “You are Here: Exploring Yoga and the Impacts of Cultural Appropriation”.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: False prophits, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 371 Comments

Why the Age of Gurus is over and how the Truth Vibrations are exposing them

For years now, from as early as 1991, David Icke has been writing and discussing the Truth Vibrations, an energy frequency which uncovers and unmasks all things including this deceptive matrix, which we call and experience as “reality”.

      David Icke: Truth Vibrations (Awakening the Great Spirit) by Jay4Louise

For decades, prophets and seers have been discussing this mysterious cosmic cloud or part of the galaxy which Planet Earth is about to enter, filled with this Cosmic Truth Serum which will help many of us who are open to the Ascension process move out of the old programming and move into the new one and help all of us see who we really are, no more masks, no more bullshit, no more phonies. A particularly beautiful description of what we are experiencing and what is in store for us can be found in this article:

Zen Gardner‘s website has a series of particularly enlightening articles about this Cosmic Cloud:

Icke , was and is,  spot-on.

With happenings like the Occupy Movement, where masses of people are demanding more transparency and accountability from shady and sinister entities like Wall Street and Big Government…

With Wikileaks, where cyber-punk hottie Julian Assange basically exposes the nefarious dealings of governments, military and multinational corporations the world over.

With the talented motley crew of hackers over on the 4chan /b/ board a.k.a Anonymous, who have infiltrated, and in some case, brought down to their knees, impenetrable organizations like VISA, Mastercard, the CIA, the FBI and Bank of America….

So it is also no surprise that people who are operating on anything less than full integrity are somehow being outed for who they really are these days…

James Ray

This includes New Age hucksters like that asshole James Ray, who conducted a sweat-lodge retreat in Sedona, AZ for  $10,000 US/person for the five-day program intended to push participants to their physical and emotional limits.

  

More than 50 people participated in the two-hour sweat lodge, a sauna-like ceremony typically used by American Indians to rid the body of toxins. It was meant to be the highlight of Ray’s “Spiritual Warrior” seminar near Sedona. Two people were pronounced dead at the scene; a third died after spending more than a week in a coma; 18 others were hospitalized. Witnesses described the scene after the ceremony as alarming and chaotic — like a “battlefield” — with people vomiting and shaking violently, while others dragged “lifeless” and “barely breathing” participants outside. 

This is the kind of thing that happens when someone decides to undertake something that he knows nothing about. I’ve done numerous sweat lodges over the years with Elders who had the proper training and proper teachings and not once did anything bad ever happen to me because I was in the hands of people who knew what they were doing and  were working with the lodge as a place of sanctity and healing.

Ray is a New Age fraud who, I’m willing to bet ,probably did a lodge or two, saw how simplistic the sweat lodge looks like and figured he could build one easily and make a killing off these people who don’t know any better.

It’s not as easy as it looks. There are Native teachings around the kinds of branches from what kind of specific trees you can use, the kinds of rocks which are heated, the kinds of coverings and blankets which can be used, the kinds of medicines you can use inside the lodge. In fact, there are teachings around just about every aspect of the lodge itself and if even one is done incorrectly, it can spell harm down the line.  This isn’t something you learn in a textbook or weekend seminar. It’s something which an Elder will transmit to someone who they think is spiritually mature enough and responsible enough to take the teachings of the lodge seriously and recognize that it’s for the people and the community, not for lining your pockets.

John Friend

Another huckster whose bowl of spiritual New Age pablum recently spilled over is John Friend of Anusara yoga fame.

Friend was well on his way to creating a new yoga empire with his brand of positive yoga, named Anusara, a school of thought which not only taught proper alignment but was also infused with a lot of New Age positive talk and phrases like “opening to grace” and”shining your truth”. (I’m not sure how you’re supposed to “shine truth” when  you’re limbs are twisted up in a pretzel, but whatever…)  He was also the brains behind “Wanderlust”, a kind of yoga version of the Burning Man festival.

Friend was a celebrity yoga teacher, in much the same way Baron Baptiste, Rodney Yee and Bikram Chowdhury have dominated the yoga market, a part of the $6 billion per year health and wellness industry. Jet-setting all over the world, teaching to scores of tight-bodied young women at exclusive retreats and seminars, Friend had it all and then blew it.

If you want all the gory details, then I suggest you pay a visit to Yogadork’s excellent site but in short, all hell broke loose when an irritated computer programmer working for Anusara posted up a site which was online for all but a day, but long enough to catch the attraction of yogadork.com  Intimate online chats of Friend and several members of his pagan sex coven, including married women, an employee pension fund freeze, illegal pot runs and allegations of lying and cheating all went online. It struck many as deeply hurtful and hypocritical when Friend himself had come up with a very stern code of ethics for Anusara teachers and instructors. It’s a typical Gurus-Gone-Wild story. Guy gets drunk on too much of his own power and sense of entitlement and starts abusing it and his followers and groupies are left in the lurch. The Anusara empire is now in the process of either dissolving or restructuring completely without Friend.  In the yoga world, Friend is hardly alone.(Check out my posting “Why I left yoga”  on why this is equally applicable to some of the Indian gurus)

All this to say that fakes are now being outed with increased rapidity and there’s no stopping it now.

Which is why I think the Age of Gurus is now over.

It’s true the people continue to spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on pricey weekend seminars with the likes of Deepak Chopra or Wayne Dyer, always in the hope that if they just go to this one seminar, or buy this one book, or take that one Mediterranean cruise with Tony Robbins, then that one big breakthrough which they’ve been looking for all their life will finally come true.

I’m sorry to say that most of these people are fooling themselves and losing a lot of money while they are at it.

We’re at the stage now, that you either get it or you don’t. Those folks who have been steadily working on themselves all these years will be sensitive enough to have picked up on these new energies which are surrounding us now. It will only get more intense and denser and stronger from now on, we’re not even in the thick of it yet, only at the periphery

Those who are still very much into seeking guidance outside of yourself, by following some of these New Age writers, channelers and speakers, who have refused to actually sit down seriously and work on themselves and face up to their own shortcomings and processed their fears and issues are in a for a rude awakening. Nothing external, no book, no seminar, no guru or teacher, no expensive cruise is going to help you when the real shift does hit the fan (and it’s coming fast). Only you can help yourself.

I’ll be the first one to admit it; it is very hard and painful work facing up to yourself. People don’t do it because it is so damn hard. It means revisiting those parts of you and your past you’d rather not look at too closely, revisiting old, hurtful feelings, sometimes opening up old, festering wounds and releasing those old feelings and the programs which go with them.  It requires courage and unflinching, brutal honesty with yourself.

But once you’ve done it, the sense of peace you find and the joy which comes upon you, will last. No one , no husband, wife, ex-lover, enemy, bad neighbor, NO ONE can ever take it away from you once you’ve found yourself. And that’s when real joy, real love, real everything comes into your life, because you found it inside of yourself.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Shift of the Ages effects, Yoga | Tags: , , , | 41 Comments

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