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Sticky Ideas

Sticky Ideas

The problem with ideas…
 I love nothing better than a fat, juicy, original idea. Old, renovated ideas are good too, especially if there is a new spin that makes them relevant to something going on currently. But the problem with sticky ideas is that we get far too attached to them, and we don’t understand or recognize their power.

Often we don’t examine them…
Much of our identity and our sense of self is simply based on some idea or another. We have religious ideas, cultural ideas, philosophical ideas, and scientific ideas. Our tendency is to pick and choose our ideas based on how they coincide with our personal experiences—our histories, families, relationships, habits and proclivities. Often we don’t examine them. We’re not even aware that we have them until someone wears a Niqab to a citizenship ceremony, or we’re invited to take part in a war somewhere. When we cling too tightly to our ideas (like in our current partisan politics) we lose all of our creativity; we lose touch with the ability to listen; and we can become blind, deaf and willfully ignorant. We can’t problem-solve, we can’t innovate, and we certainly can’t build bridges or resolve conflict.

Common sense is not what we think it is…
Many of our ideas go unquestioned even after they’ve been proven to be false. Common sense is what is most commonly believed in a group or a population, not necessarily what is true. This is why we need scientists, why we need philosophers, why we need novelists, film-makers, musicians, and artists. And also why we need yoga.

There are paradoxes everywhere…
The central teaching of yoga is to be fully present with what is happening in this moment. To tease out the difference between feeling a sensation versus telling a story about it. We try to stay with what is happening in every breath and in every pose. Coming back to an object, usually the breath, over and over helps us to see our habits in both body and mind. We begin to see where we are fearful, where we are kind, where we are envious, and where we are clinging to our stories about the world and our own place in it. And we begin to see paradoxes everywhere. There are multiple possibilities in every moment, and contradictory assertions can both be true at the same time.

Getting past adolescence…
My teacher has said that there is an adolescent phase to yoga: a point where we have to choose between just practicing to feel good, or practicing to look deeply and honestly at where we are stuck (which doesn’t always feel good). We could afford to do the same with our culture, our politics and our religious beliefs. That takes yoga out of the realm of stretchiness and spandex and into the realm of liberation and creativity. And that’s an idea that I can totally get behind.

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Yoga and meditation teacher, writer, reader, cat-momma, environmental warrior, friend

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