When you take your yoga off the mat and start digging into the philosophy (me, all day long…) we come up against several different concepts that boil down to this basic idea:
I’ve been doing a lot of reading. With the African sun beating down, I don’t have much energy for a vigorous yoga practice, so I find a nice shady spot and if I’m lucky, one that comes with a breeze, and I’ll settle in with a book. I was gifted with many electronic versions of books ranging in subject from yoga to Reiki, fiction stories to historical non-fiction.
The fact that the books are electronic posed a bit of a challenge, given the constraint of electricity here. I’ve mentioned before that I’m lucky to be in a city that has electricity even for a small window most days. Out in the rural areas, electricity only comes from a generator, and those are few and far between. I’ve discovered, though, that the smartphone I have will hold electronic copies of books, and will also be recharged by my computer. Thus, I bounce back and forth between laptop and cell phone devouring book after book.
I’ve been reading a lot of Dickens, as well as more contemporary fiction and non-fiction set in the late eighteen hundreds and also encompassing the two world wars. I’m struck by the descriptions of the poor because they mimic what I’ve observed here in Africa.
Dickens describes a world of poverty coexisting next to a much smaller realm of wealth and privilege. He speaks of trash building up in the street and the smell of human waste running open in throughout London. While the human waste disposal here does not run in the streets, the trash is omnipresent. There is also a huge disparity of wealth, with a small sliver of the population living well above the poverty level that most Guineans occupy.
Perspective is everything. It’s well known within the yoga world that five minutes in a headstand will shake up your bad day and improve your mood. Yoga inversions move the physical body up side down, sending our feet reaching towards the sky and our heads rooting towards the earth. This change in our physical bodies gets our blood flowing to the heart, drains the lymph system, and invigorates our energetic body. It also uproots the emotional and thought bodies, subtly shifting persistent thought patterns to allow us to see through the illusion that is unhappiness and connect to shri, the true joy of the present moment.
Moving to Central America has created a change in how I define happiness. Our Western culture often teaches us that happiness equates to acquisition. Read: get happy by chasing your desires. I spoke here about how corporations launched a successful campaign on the public to convince them to buy what they don’t need. The reason that campaign had so much impact is that jumping from desire to desire is part of the One Human Condition. Continue reading “Happiness is Already There”
I like to think that American society is finally moving on from the culture of consumerism. I’d like to think we’ve come a long way since George W. Bush told Americans after the disaster that was 9/11 that the solution to our problem was to spend the weekend shopping.
I was recently gifted with a number of higher-conciousness movies, programs, and snippits of technology that help drive people to be a part of the solution. One of these programs, The Century of the Self, speaks about how American corporations and politicians worked to use Freudian theory and analysis to control by convincing them they didn’t have enough.
It’s interesting listening to the description of how most people lived their lives before this psychological campaign started. Continue reading “Leaving Behind Consumerism”