“Truth is indestructible. It seems history shows (and it’s the same way today) that the innovator is more often than not met with some degree of condemnation; usually according to the degree of departure from the prevailing modes of expression or what have you. Change is always hard to accept…. Quite often they are the rejects, outcasts, sub-citizens, etc. of the very societies to which they bring so mush sustenance… Whatever the case, whether accepted or rejected, rich or poor, they are forever guided by that great and eternal constant – the creative urge. Let us cherish it and give all praise to God.”
John Coltrane

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

Inside First

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Shulamit has, over the past few months, brought to my attention the idea of Restorative Circles. I have read a couple of articles and my thoughts & feelings about it are mixed. The last of these articles consolidated my thoughts.

I have not invested enough time and attention to properly describe what Restorative Circles is – so I will call upon the words of it’s founder Dominic Barter:

“Restorative Justice is effective when our intentions are those of social cohesion, community resilience, healing and sustainable changes in behaviour towards underlying values of well being, inclusion, mutual aid, learning and responsibility. The restorative approach looks not at who has done wrong but at what needs are unmet. It seeks not to label and condemn but to alert us to our place in the web of relationships, to our power to act and our power to mend.”

That is a wonderful outlook but when I first read it I had some reservations about it’s applicability. I have no doubt its a good direction to go, but there has to be both personal and social readiness to approach it. The applied tools of Restorative circles as I understand them are based on communication. Communication relies on other subtle skills such as observation, listening, speech, openness. These are not trivial skills, they are not inherently available to people in modern societies – and their absence may be one of the root causes for the very conflicts Restorative Circles tends to:

“Restorative practices rely on social conventions and emotional literacy. Such conventions are far from new – in fact some believe they are older than our current, punitive view of justice. However they have been marginalised and devalued for centuries. The process of remembering and revaluing them is still gathering ground. The capacity to articulate our feelings and needs without attributing blame is also both ancient and only recently rediscovered in urban cultures.”

My initial feeling was and remains that an approach such as Restorative Circles cannot (yet!?) replace punitive approaches. When dialogue is possible dialogue should prevail, when it isn’t then punitive interventions are required (maybe punitive systems can be improved by taking the opportunity to gift social-outlaws with communication skills that can give them access to the alternative restorative approach).

“The idea that biological crimes can be ended by intellect alone, that you can talk crime to death, doesn’t work … The instrument of conversation between society & biology has always been a policeman or a soldier and his gun. All the laws of history … Constitutions & the Bills of Rights & Declarations of Independence are … instructions to the military & police.”

( Robert Pirsig from Lila on the relationship between social, intellectual & biological )

But here’s what I found truly interesting. Here is a quote taken from a recent interview with Dominic Barter:

“Being afraid and not listening yourself and avoiding conflict, that’s what’s dangerous. The conflict has to speak louder to get your attention. The way to raise the volume is to violate others.”

I recently spent some time at a cancer-radiation facility (visiting a relative). The center provides one of the most lethal self-inflicted interventions invented by man. The body is exposed to lethal radiation aimed at cancer cells. The center is equipped with modern machinery and is overbooked/overloaded with work. There are both hospitalized and out-patients waiting in an ever-busy queue to get their lethal dosage of radiation.

I sat there wondering how has a so-called modern society reached the point where cancer wards are over-populated and people are lined up for lethal radiation? Can no one see that something is terribly wrong? Can no one see that the “internal conflict has become so loud because we are not paying attention to it“? Is it reasonable for us to pursue an advanced idea such as Restorative Circles when we are unable, as individuals and a society, to achieve basic biological health and a corresponding peace of mind?

I feel there is an inner Restorative Circle that everyone of us has to nurture, develop and maintain. That is the point of greatest leverage available to us. I feel that “fixing society” is becoming an escape, a fashion of our times that is actually diverting our attention from where it is direly needed. If “fixing society” gives you hope and inspiration then harness that inspiration and turn it back inward – maybe one day you will arrive at a humbling realization that there is nothing outside that needs fixing.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Observing Pranayama – September 2010

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This period of observation continues the previous 10 days and brings it to a total of 30 days.

My current morning Pranayama practice is:

10 –  0  – 15 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
10 –  0  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 10 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 0   – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 –   0 –   6 –   0 x6 Ujjayi

My current evening practice is either the same as my morning practice – or a slightly altered version (generally more exhale weighted).

10 –  0   – 15 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
10 –  0  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  0  – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 10 – 20 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  0 – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 – 0 – 6 – 0 x6 Ujjayi

On Sep12 the evening practice was changed to reduce the brahmana quality and increase the langhana quality:

10 – 0 – 15 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
10 – 0 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 5 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 5 – 20 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 5 – 20 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 0 – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 – 0 – 6 – 0 x6 Ujjayi

Observations

Date Time Observations
Aug 31 Morning
  • Heaviness in body reluctance in mind, blocked nasal passages
  • Shakuhachi + short standing sequence + pranayama
  • Feeling of congestion eased throughout the practice. At the beginning both sides felt congested, byt the end the right side was better then the left( as usual)
Evening
  • No practice
Sep 1 Morning
  • Again nasal passages feel more blocked then usual. Avoided (where possible) head-down postures in practice sequence. OK practice.
  • Slight internal pressure pain at left temple
  • Feeling of congestion partially resolved by pranama practice.
  • Left side more blocked then right side.
Afternoon
  • Surprising space opened up around 15:00 for practice.
  • Short forward bend sequence + Pranayama + long savasana
  • Slight internal pressure pain at left temple
  • Left side more blocked then right side
Sep 2 Morning
  • Almond oil arrived – started using it
  • Full morning practice + pranayama
  • Slight internal pressure pain at left temple at beginning of practice, then more subtly present in Prayaname practice.
  • Left more blocked then right
  • Some effort requires to sustain full pranayama practice.
  • Presence OK
Sep 2 Evening
  • Shakuhachi + short standing sequence + pranayama
  • Usual practice – usual qualities.
Sep 3 Morning
  • Started practicing late – had to cut the practice short as I felt Andreea’s presence, she was silent bu needed to make food – turned out I was right so …
  • Shakuhachi + full standing sequence +Pranayama
  • Nicer then usual Pranayama practice – better flow in both sides (almond oil?)
  • Smoother beginnings of exhales with better sustain (felt invited to approach 20 second exhale again).
Evening
  • No practice, dropped down and fell asleep watching a movie
Sep 4 Morning
  • Full practice + pranayama
  • Left way more blocked then right
  • Disturbed presence
Evening
  • No practice

I’m headed into a week of disturbance – including 4 or 5 days away from home:

Date Time Observations
Sep 5 Morning
  • Shakuhachi + pranayama practice (no asana)
  • Disturbed pranayama practice – I may have skipped a step in the practice – not sure
  • Left blocked compared to right
Sep 6 Morning
  • Visited with death yesterday – returned home late an night
  • Full standing sequence + Pranayama
  • Nice pranayama practice – peaceful
  • Left blocked compared to right – but slightly better then usual flow
Evening
  • Much fear.
  • Forward bends practice – seated and standing.
  • Pranayama – nice, present (despite noise from outside).
  • Low endurance – had to find support from within towards end of practice.
  • Left more blocked then right.
Sep 7 Morning
  • Forward bends practice – seated and standing.
  • Pranayama – nothing to note
  • Left more blocked then right – today there’s congestion
Evening
  • Lousy, disturbed practice
  • Very blocked left nostril
Sep 8 Morning
  • Day of travels today – so a bit on the clock
  • Nice pranayama – the usual left blockage.
Sep 9 Morning
  • 10-0-15-0 x 24 ujjayi breathing practice + counter postres + savasana
Sep 10 Morning
  • A constricted body – left soulder accumulating tension and sensitivity
  • Did the morning pranayama practice without the crown formula.
  • Counter postures + savasana
Sep 11 Morning
  • A short meditation (no asana and no pranayama)

Back from travels – looking forward to much less movement:

Date Time Observations
Sep 12 Morning
  • Shakuhachi + short standing sequence + pranayama + meditation
  • OK presence
  • Less difference (though still there) between left and right
Evening
  • Shakuhachi + short standing sequence + pranayama
  • First time practicing the modified evening practice – which was surprisingly accessible (first time in a many weeks since I’ve moved to a 20 second exhale).
  • Absolutely no inclination towards staying for a short meditation – there was no rush to finish the practice either – just finished, lay on my back for a little counter-posture and the practice was over.
Sep 13 Morning
  • Nice standing sequence + pranayana + short meditation
  • Much better then usual left nostril flow – even better then right side.
  • Difficulty sustaining crown practice – exhale required effort and then inhale was pushing to go
Evening
  • Nice practice + pranayama + meditation
  • Surpisingly pleasant pranayama – it’s been a while since I have been reminded of the direct effect of presence on the ability to sustain a quality exhale – when there is good stead presence – exhale takes on new level of refinment and feels like it can go on forever. This also led to an experience of a meditational journey quality of a long exhale – counting seems to become clear and continuous – and there is a sensation of physical elation. Nice lead into meditation.
  • Nostril seem to be in a similar state.
Sep 14 Morning
  • a few forward bends + Pranayama + creative savasana (creative things on my demanded a space to manifest and I obliged them).
  • Left nostril flow better then right nostril flow
  • Presence poor – things on my mind struggling for stage time – but practice OK
Afternoon
  • Just pranayama – at a surprising time
Sep 15 Morning
  • A complete asana practice + pranayama + short meditation
  • The first complete asana practice since returning home – it was a nice practice but it also exposed weakness – still not fully collected. Right knee in warrior pose acted up – hasn’t happened in a long time.
  • Nice pranayama – left and right fairly balanced
Sep 16 Morning
  • Pretty much the same as the previous morning.
  • Left and right fairly balanced – right slighly better.
Sep 17
  • No practice
Sep 18 Morning
  • Tired and heavy – short standing sequence + savasana + pranayama.
  • I didn’t feel I could make the transition from savasana to sitting – but I did.
  • Pranayama was soft and subtle.
  • I drifted off in the first sequence and ended up doing 8 breaths instead of 6 – so I stuck with 8 breaths for the entire sequence.
  • Overall the flow throgh nostrils felt lesser after the practice then it did before.
Sep 19 Morning
  • Again tired and heavy and also stiff – short standing sequence + long savasana with a “body-scan” meditation + pranayama.
  • Pranayama was nice and subtle … refined despite the heaviness (or because of it?).
  • Again overall flow through nostrils felt lesser after the practice then it did before.
  • I am not feeling a well – but the pranayama practice left “me” feeling “apart from” my feelings.
Sep 20 Morning
  • Still stiff, tired and heavy … getting out of bed was hindered.
  • Shakuhachi + Breathing practice + Short Meditation
  • I did 12 rounds of 10.015.0 AU and when I realized that I didn’t have the vitality to carry on with the practice, turned off the metronome and stayed in free Ujjayi breathing around the same ratio.
  • Still not feeling well – today it is less remote and more encompassing.
Posted in Pranayama, Pranayama Journal, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-19

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  • first time reading a book in PDF – scrolling is a bummer compared to flipping pages … locks me into my real world … #
  • a business that overlooked the potential of blogging as a business-tool: http://bit.ly/codTDV #
  • It seems that the only place I can "be" in a community (online and offline) is on it's fringes #
  • marriage is a ha-tha yoga practice #

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Better Business

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Yes there is a way to do better business. Matt Mullenweg of Automatic, the company behind (amongst other things) WordPress.com has announced that Automattic has donated the WordPress trademark – a major assett – to a separate legal entity the WordPress Foundation to ensure that it remains protected and free:

“Automattic might not always be under my influence, so from the beginning I envisioned a structure where for-profit, non-profit, and not-just-for-profit could coexist and balance each other out. It’s important for me to know that WordPress will be protected and that the brand will continue to be a beacon of open source freedom regardless of whether any company is as benevolent as Automattic has been thus far.”

Posted in AltEco, Business, Open Source, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

My Client

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I’ve long wanted to write about and acknowledge the one client (software design) I’ve truly enjoyed working with over the years. Today they inspired me to do it. I have no idea why this video-clip was created nor what game/competition it has been submitted to – but it is a great way to introduce Cyber-Ark:

I first met Cyber-Ark when I was working in a design consulting firm. The first project’s scope was limited (it was, to the best of my knowledge, their first product design process – so they were carefully testing the waters) to a web-client of one of their core products. Like many software/technology products it’s user experience reflected mostly the product’s internal/technical capabilities rather then a captivating user experience. The design process unveiled a very different product – way beyond what they were expecting. They were very attentive and receptive (they really are great people to work with) – but what amazed me was their brave decision to drastically delay their release schedule to make the time to create an excellent product. It paid off greatly and it’s effects spread throught the company (and we continued to work together with other projects and products).

The design firm has since closed it’s doors yet I’ve had the pleasure of doing additional design projects with Cyber-Ark. I am grateful for the recurring trust they have demonstrated in choosing to work with me and accommodating my approach, circumstances and wishes (which are not very conventional).

Though I generally consider my career to have ended 4 years ago, the crown of my career was the last project I did with Cyber-Ark (some months ago). It was the purest design process I have performed. They came to me with a core idea they wanted to develop into a design concept. The objective was to develop the core idea into something that could be communicated with others inside and outside the company – to collect feedback and make an assessment if the idea warrants further development. There was a time-frame but no deadline and the software development team was not breathing down our neck to deliver something they could create by yesterday. It was a patient and intriguing movement from an abstract thought into a potential product.

Mostly I look back at my career with doubts and questions. Most of my career I encountered debilitating mediocrity that wore me down and eventually out. I don’t know if it’s just Israeli hi-tech or if it is a general quality of hi-tech companies – but I didn’t enjoy my work – especially during the design (and final) phase of my career – most projects ended up feeling like missed opportunities. Cyber-Ark’s team, management and ultimately (selling!) products are the one (and only) confirmation I have (and  need) that I was doing something right and that quality can prevail in business.

This is great opportunity for me to acknowledge and thank the people at Cyber-Ark that trusted me and confirmed that I was doing something right. Thank you friends.

Posted in Business, Expanding, inside, outside, Quality | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours