Here I am, writing instead of practicing… writing as a practice…
In the book “Cave in the Snow“, Tenzin Palmo (I don’t have the book with me to offer a precise quote) says that you shouldn’t be on the mat unless you are present on the mat. Preoccupations prevent us from being present. The mat is special, it’s a space dedicated to a practice of presence. So if you’re not there – you may as well be somewhere else.
My days that begin with a Yoga practice are different then days that don’t – they are better. In a similar way, the first asana of a Yoga practice affects the rest of the practice. Tonight I chose to not get on the mat. The first “asana” in my practice is choice. I did not want to get on the mat. Recognition of that choice triggered an internal dialogue – second guessing myself with a diversity of less & more convincing arguments.
The original choice remained… and I chose to act on it. I feel that had I gone on the mat I would not have been present on it – and the practice would have distracted and agitating – I have tried this many times in the past.
I am now present – writing this with a movie playing in the background. I am present with my impatience, self doubt & disturbed-energy. Getting on the mat would have been an attempt to escape from this – it probably would have failed. Instead I am:
Doing what I felt like doing – sinking towards sleep with the help of a movie.
Doing something I didn’t expect to do – writing this post.
Looking forward to a fresh morning practice.
Thinking back on the day, trying to see if there is something I would like to try doing differently tomorrow.
… and awaiting an unplanned visit of a friend seeking help with neck pains.
On the mat, off the mat … in the end it all comes together… nicely!
I live in a small village who’s residents work in agriculture – specifically fruits and eggs. If you approach the village in the late evening hours – when it’s getting dark – you will be greeted by hills covered with stripes of light – these are the chicken coops (the lights are kept on to keep the chickens feeding – which increases egg production).
One of the “perks” of living here is free eggs (and fruits in season)! Whenever I need eggs I help one of the coop-owners collect the eggs (its a daily chore) and in return I get a tray of 30 eggs. They would give them to me anyways – but I prefer this exchange. But “free” has a high price – and I am not at peace with my choice. The chickens are kept in terrible conditions – they are kept 3 or 4 in a small cage with barely enough room to move, industrialized food is supplied automatically – and they live that way for 2 years after which they are replaced and processed for their meat.
But here’s the thing. If I were to setup a small protective coop with two or three free-to-range chickens in it – they would supply enough eggs for two or three families. They are very low maintenance and the cost is practically nothing (you do need to feed them and collect the eggs). I know it’s a naive question – but it’s been with me for some time now – why doesn’t this scale up? Why does this process, when scaled up, compromise so many qualities – which are naturally there in it’s basic nature?
I really do not have the knowledge to answer this. I realize that cities are not planned with space and conditions to have free-ranging chickens. Maybe the problem is the cities? We had 5 or 6 consecutive days of rain in Israel. I live in the north, where it rains much more then in the center area, where my parents live. My parents reported floods and power failures. Here there were no such problems – the land is now a rich dark brown – saturated with water, the plants all seem grateful – the air is cool and clean.
This model offers a perspective on how the contents of a Yoga practice change as a function of age – from a practice that is dominated by asana (physical practice) at a young age to a practice that is dominated by meditation at an older age.
In childhood and adolescence the practice is made up mostly of asana. This makes sense – if you think about children and young teenagers – it’s not practical to expect them to sit through elaborate and subtle Pranayama (breathing) and meditative practices. They need to be kept involved otherwise their attention gets pulled away. Asana is the primary tool used to keep them engaged.
Adult life is about creating a life – family, career, etc. There are many distractions and preoccupations. The body is not a supple as it used to be, and there is typically much less space and time for practice. Asana is a shorter practice and used mostly to prepare for Pranayama and meditation, which in turn provide a counter-balance to the business of life.
Old age is typically another major shift – from business to contemplation. As responsibilities take up less space, there is room for exploration. Departure and death become a more substantial part of life. This phase of life leans towards a meditation.
This model depicts Pranayama as a key ingredient of Yoga practice. It is introduced early in life and maintained throughout. It evolves from a goal (of Asana practice) to a means of preparation and support for meditative practices. It also demonstrates that Yoga practice moves together with the cycle of life from gross to subtle.
I am a fan of open-source. This started with WordPress and is gradually expanding to cover almost all of my information needs. I am writing this post on an old latpop I resurrected with Ubuntu and purely open-source solutions. In some cases, such as Open Office, I have had to surrender many niceties and make do with simpler and more limited tools. In other cases, such as Firefox, I have found a better overall solution and even some new useful features I didn’t have before.
Open source generally suffers from a poor user-experience. This is an issue for most software tools and developers, but commercial solutions have an upper-hand in this domain. They can afford to make design efforts to either make their products better or at least make them look cosmetically better.
Open-source is rooted in a passion for developers to express themselves – to create software the way they think it should be (technically -and morally). Open source is therefore dominated by developers. Most of “open-source” is hidden from end-users – it is a highly technical environment and social process in which developers in remote locations work together to create software – it’s a pretty amazing process. Though it’s called “open” it’s actually a very private party – you need to have a developer state-of-mind and technical capabilities to participate. This pretty much closes the door on many other disciplines that are essential to making good software.
For some time I’ve been wanting to partake and contribute to open-source products. I have some experience in product design and user experience which I believe are greatly missing from open-source. So far, all of my attempts to help have failed. Actually they haven’t actually failed – I never even got through the door. Actually, it feels like there isn’t even a door for me to knock on.
WordPress is a wonderful tool. I’d like to see it evolve into my one and only home on-line. I’d like everyone to be able to get a WordPress website as an alternative to Facebook (and I think BuddyPress is the wrong way to do it). I think that one of the greatest obstacles to moving in this direction is the complexity of the administration interface (which is one of the best in the open-source world) – which is way more then what many non-technical people can handle. WordPress has actually been able to bring graphic designers into an open-source development process – but I don’t think that nice icons or a color palette are enough to make WordPress more accessible.
In this video (3:38) Matt speaks about what he feels is the greatest misconception about WordPress – and he points out that people think it’s only for professional bloggers – when actually much work has been done to make it accessible to everyone. If a lot of people are thinking it, maybe it’s not a “misconception”?
I don’t know what the solution is – but I have some ideas. I’d like to be able to present those ideas and discuss them with others. I’d like the WordPress developer community to be open to product, graphic and user experience designers. But even that is something I don’t know how to do – it’s a great challenge.
I care, I want to contribute, I want to participate, I want there to be a dialogue. I’d like to have an opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas. I don’t know of a place for me to do this, and all my attempts to reach-out so far have met thin air.
This recent initiative from Mozilla Labs is exciting. I have been wishing for something like it for a long time and it’s even a part of my vision for WordPress. After reading what information was available about it – my mind begin churning and I began looking for a place a discussion can take place. The Raindrop Community page offers several options:
Design is a collection of screen-shot images on Flickr – which I really can’t see as a place to converse and innovate.
I was referred to the Ideas section (all the rest are technical/developer oriented spaces) – where the most popular suggestion is about a missing icon.
So again I was left scratching my head. I continued to collect my thoughts and reflections but I don’t know where to share them with the community – which has left with me a feeling that maybe the community doesn’t even want to hear about it.
It’s a frustrating experience – I haven’t given up yet. I’ve been thinking about this post for some time – a post I read today at Weblog Tools Collection finally prompted me to write it.