For anyone feeling an inner calling to… “something”
Be it change, growth, review, adaptation, or letting go, this year has triggered or accelerated one or more of these things in each of us.
For this final blog post of 2020, I want to leave to one side the specific external events of the year, and go deeper and beyond. If you would like to, come with me on this contemplation…
Much if not all of western medicine has been based upon “fixing” health. We live longer and we can medicate so many conditions that used to kill or not even be known about before they knocked us off this mortal realm. We can prolong life and sleep, and prescribe against anxiety, pain and infections. No doubting human and scientific endeavour here, and it continues.
But… to what cost to the soul and how we live? Why is it while on one end of the spectrum, science and technology can do so much, while on the other, we are in infancy – or, you could argue have gone backwards – when it comes to knowing what liberation feels like. That is, the systems that have brought in progress, also constrain us. They bring in standards and expectations and new addictions that we are then saddled with.
Much if not all of modern politics and the structuring of the systems that hold together the life that we then (have to) step into from the moment we are born, revolve around “gain” in the material realm. I’ve nothing against gain. This is not a naïve polemic on capitalism. I like to have a home and things that inspire me, and I absolutely know from personal experience the need for a certain amount to actually live and survive, and then with some kind of balance, and not wake up each day in an underworld of perpetual fear and need of the basics. But these structures that supposedly benefit us, also hold us in their grasp and tightly so until we die – unless, we question.
Moving from the body literally and the politic, to our inner life… well, much if not all of western psychology, in its various forms, has been based upon “growth” or “perfection” of the individual. For a long time, if you suffered a stress or a confusion, or a trauma, or had existentialist angst over your purpose in life, this would not have been dwelled upon. There wasn’t the space or approval to do that, nor the encouragement to share your mind and heart’s needs or brokenness.
This dramatically changed in the twentieth century, when talking and opening up about what concerned you became an accepted practice. This is a massive revolution, not only in the psychological fields but for humankind and one that is still in progress, that is, the leap change from keeping silent to coming forward and speaking to someone is a shift that is still occurring in its own way, in various cultures and places around the world.
A second revolution on how we “deal with ourselves” has occurred much more recently, in the last two or three decades alone. This is connected to the personal development realm. Not only is it acceptable to acknowledge you have a need and to speak to someone, we have sped forward to a place where we are perpetually actively encouraged to consider the gaps in our needs, hopes and desires and to do something about it. Now, you would not just speak to a professional or invest in a course, you would share publicly, or you would turn your need into a career, or a passion, or let it partly dictate how you operate in the world.
While there is much to applaud and welcome in the field of human “personal development”, a lot of it has backfired.
Development, achievement and status has conflated with wellness.
Which is why you have states and regions and neighbourhoods where a near half of the population are addicted to a substance or chemical, or struggling to survive, lying side by side to a region or state or neighbourhood where people might not be reliant on external chemicals or thriving in the material sense, and fellow humans, even those living in such close proximity, are not of their concern.
We won’t want to see how our individual needs feed the system that created them in the first place, or fuel an operating system that in order to reward some, must bring down others. This system is integral to our daily living, however healthy or spiritual we think we are. Be it the education system, work (be it yoga studio or bank), how people relate to and evaluate each other (hence the stratospheric rise and influence of social media channels and communication) and, yes, how our brains and nervous systems have evolved since we are born. It is said most of our “emotional” and feeling hardware develops in the first ten years of our life. If we dare see how a lot of so called personal development actually keeps us in the chain that started it, or, how it avoids the source of our inner wound or desire, we would probably be left with a sense of helplessness and facing the overwhelming question of, “what else is there? and how else do I navigate my being on this earth?”
So we don’t go there, not in general. as a species. Or if we do – and I bet if you’re reading this blog, you probably do! – what then?
And how do we meet that big, black unknown space of… who am I and what is underneath the labels and conditioning?
Well, however overwhelming, or too heavy, or too confusing, or too “I don’t have time for this”, or “I have to put food on the table, shut up with your deep and meaningful” these questions might be, I believe they are key to living a life that is “alive”.
Dare you ponder?
Might you let a part of yourself be with these questions, not just at the end of the year, not just in the new year, not just during a lockdown, not just when you lose your job, or lover or home, not just when someone close to you dies, but…
As the new year beckons, I will still need to do the things that put bread on the plate and roof over head. I will still post nice images on social media. I will (probably) study with a teacher or two, and read books that open my mind – or just make me smile before I got to bed at night.
But I aim to open up to my inadequacies on this planet, on a far deeper level. Why? Because it’s in our holes, gaps, losses and insecurities that the bigger questions – and potential answers – lie.
If any of this resonates with you, we can do this together. Yes, we can practice yoga and do meditation together, and my hope is we will get to go on retreat again this coming year.
And as these practices bring us in connection, so we can have the space, the invitation and the opportunity to dare… to get closer to why each of us is here and not be afraid.. to go there.
As one of my heroes put it:
“For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern” – William Blake
Thank you for already being part of my journey. Yoga with Divya (whatever that or she is) wants to continue to grow with you. Come along, bring your input, and we can live beyond the narrow measures this modern world suggests we are confined to, but we need not be…
-image, The Great Red Dragon, William Blake (1805), representing sexual, political, religious liberation.