Looks like we’re going to be here a while… [ESSAY]
Culver City, California – A tired and poor black man shuffles by the Starbucks. A motivated-pencil-skirted young woman strides briskly into the store. A hip-hop based soundtrack plays over the scene from a Mercedes-Benz idling at the stop light. Jacaranda-tree-filtered-sunlight gently fills the outdoor patio. The question occurs to me at that precise moment. What is this place? What am I doing here?
This query seems to stir up a desire to be of help to others. As that thought rises up through the self-conscious soup of my mind, I can’t help blushing at the unoriginality of it.
It feels both presumptuous and arrogant to think I can be of help to anyone. Up to this point I had thought, if I knew more about yoga and its psychological implications than most people, I would be allowed to play the part of teacher or expert. In a quiet moment of self-honesty, however, this seems hopelessly grandiose.
As that hopped-up caterpillar sitting on his toadstool puffing on his hookah would rightfully say to me, “And whoooo are YOU?!??” After all, my life has hardly been a paragon of principle and virtue. I have lied, cheated, stolen, and participated in countless amounts of self-indulgence. However, having been there, done that, the longing to be a little more selfless and perhaps encourage others to share this journey of self-reclamation with me persists. Why invite others to come along on this journey? The words of Mark Twain come to mind, “Misery can be experienced on its own but to get the full measure of joy you have someone to share it with.”
Inviting others to share any type of journey or event, however, is fraught with peril. Not just the peril of presumption that arises from thinking one knows better than others, but even worse, the risk of over-thinking and mechanized parts of life that are meant to stay organic and spontaneous.
The good news for the reluctant explorer is that the journey suggested in these letters is predicated on Yoga (the ancient transformative one, not the sweating and bending one.) The wisdom reservoir of Yoga has a plan for defusing the tension and tendency of over mechanizing the journey of self-discovery.
Yoga’s built in fluidity compensates for time and circumstance (see my summary on the history of Vedanta.) Yoga additionally suggests an approach that begins with an expedient amount of structure and discipline but blossoms into irrepressible spontaneity (see my article the hidden history of Yoga.)
The goal of these letters (articles, blogs, electronic offerings…) is to hew to the fluid, structured, spontaneous nature of Yoga while exploring the lesser-known face of Yoga: a system of psychology, a healer of identity and the synthesis of celebration and scholarship.
The goal of the author is to offer his services as valet. Allow him to hold your coat and baggage while you enter and explore the working dimensions of the world of yoga psychology.
The goal of life is to learn how to be a modern yogi: balanced, focused, kind, connected to spirit, and happy to serve; all while grabbing a decaf mocha latte, answering your iPhone and surfing the waves of 21st century life.
See you soon.
Your servant with love,