There is a myth about Yoga in the west – that it is a calming and relaxing practice. People come to Yoga from a restless lifestyle and expect Yoga to restore and induce a sense of relaxation. This is one of many misapprehensions about Yoga. Yoga is actually a disruptive practice – it is intended to disturb the system. Like forging a sword, heat it used to make mind & body malleable, then pounded (more literally than you may care to imagine) into a new shape and given time to cool off and re-assimilate. Originally, to quality for Yoga practice you had to arrive calm, relaxed and fit.
I was taught that because of the disruptive nature of Yoga it needs to be applied with care and attention. A physical Yoga practice should be a process of gradual warming, a peak intensity practice and then a gradual cooling off and settling of the system. Over a long period of time mind & body become more resilient and tolerant of heat and capable of sustaining higher levels of disruption. That facilitates a gradual development of “levels of disruption” over a period of time. Without these two elements of settling and gradual increase of intensity there is a risk of over-heating and damaging of nervous system, injuring body and disturbing mind. Unfortunately many forms of Yoga practice in the west are not aware & respective of these aspect and are actually an agitating practice for people who are already agitated enough. Literally an unhealthy practice.
This journey started yesterday on Fred Wilson’s blog – he wrote a post about a hot and trendy topic Free and metioned Andrew Keen. I encountered Andrew Keen by chance on Twitter and his observations caught my attention, though I haven’t invested much time and attention in his work. Fred’s post sent me to his website.
In browsing around Andrew’s website I found he wrote a book called “The Cult of the Amateur” – and a generous excerpt of it is available on his website. This is how the book starts:
“First a confession. Back in the nineties I was a pioneer in the first Internet gold rush. With the dream of making the world a more musical place, I founded Audiocafe.com, one of the earliest, digital music sites.”
I got a feeling of one of those karma-waves hitting me (which is what is fueling this writing), something clenched in my heart. Over the past two years I have been dedicating my life (in what seems like an uphill battle I am doomed to lose) to a similar project in visual arts and I completely relate to Andrew’s observations both as an entrepreneur and an artist.
So I continued reading through the excerpt of Andrew’s book. I felt much resent and pain in Andrew’s words and I feel it is rooted in great personal care and interest that has been met with equally great disappointment in people who are active in shaping what we call “the internet” – and I can completely relate (because I have similar experiences). But I don’t like to live my life in this disposition and so I try to move on.
Andrew, as I read your words I realized that as a fringe artist I didn’t have much of a chance to reach exposure (not even talking about financial reward) in the pre-Internet world (of galleries and museums) and I don’t have much of a chance in the Internet dominated world. The Internet hasn’t induced a qualitative change, it has (so far) been an amplifier of what is already there. My experience shows that mediocrity is a natural human state – it takes great, dedicated, sustainable and conscious effort to go beyond it. There is a long delay until greatness is recognized by society and so those who do dedicate their lives to greatness are usually not recognized or rewarded for it. I carry with me as an example John Coltrane – it took over 40 years until recognition of his greatness reached beyond circles of fringe musicians and artists.
This wonderful amplification afforded by the internet is reflecting back to us what we are – and it’s doing it painfully loud and clear – more then ever before. Everything gets amplified, the mediocre things and the great things. I see vast oceans of mediocrity and emptiness in the internet but I have also come to learn about many more islands of greatness and inspiration. Some forces will embrace, exploit and cash-in on mediocrity (as they always have), but other forces will embrace greatness. I have faith in quality. Not only will it prevail, but it will do so at perfect times and in perfect measures.
Like Yoga in the west, I have a feeling that disruptive technologies are misused. Like Yoga, they have a great potential in facilitating change, but to do so effectively there needs to be some settling and cooling off and a gradual process over time – there are disruptive forces that are inhibiting both.
Andrew communicated agitation. Fred reciprocated with out-of-character agitation. I hooked into that and spent 24 hours in a state of agitation. Another commenter on Fred’s blog picked up on my agitation and took it even further. This is how it works. Thankfully calm and care can spread just as effectively.
The Yoga-Sutra mentions Svatantra – which can be translated as “Freedom”. “Freedom” is also an undertone in this cross-blog conversation – there are many qualities to internet technology that have a potential to facilitate Svatantra. But it is never easy, never fast, it requires care and guidance, patience, time and loads of personal responsibility.
Personal Freedom cannot be given nor taken away from an individual.
Personal Freedom can be offered to an individual.
Personal Freedom has to be claimed and cared for by an individual.