“In his absence, Brook asked Myers to take personal responsibility for work on another show, The Ogre Show, which would be performed that night. Pleased and flattered, Myers accepted the job as the group’s new boss. He found out later that Brook had given the same to job to everyone else.”
Doshas are a fundamental concept in Ayurveda & Yoga. They describe the physical body as a manifestation of spirit and matter. They are very useful tool for assessing health and illness of the body in a way that relates to Vedic philosphy and Yoga tools. They offer a fresh and holistic perspective for personal observation. They can also be confusing and misleading – so we’ll be taking small and careful steps as we explore them.
Doshas tell a story of a Fire that we all have burning inside. This fire is intricately related to a Yogic energy system of the body. Understanding this relationship is a key to understanding, and avoiding misunderstanding of the Doshas. An understanding of the purpose of the fire within is an anchor for exploring the Doshas.
There is a natural tendency to associate Fire with energy – the hotter the fire and more intense the flames, the more energy is generated. In Yoga the relationship between fire and energy is more subtle and elaborate:
First we need to recall that in Yoga, energy is about quality and not about quantity. We have a given and fixed capacity for energy. “Low Energy” is actually defused energy. “High Energy” is actually concentrated energy.
Second we need to recall that in Yoga energy flows through channels (called Nadis) in the body. Concentrated energy is experienced when the channels are open and energy can flow freely. Defused energy is experienced when there are blockages that prevent the energy from flowing freely.
Cakras are major junctions of energy channels, when they are blocked they are called Granthis – literally translated as knots. Healing occurs when energy can flow freely, illness occurs when it’s blocked.
Therefore Yoga practices are not about creating more energy. Yoga practices are designed to remove blockages and obstacles that prevent the flow of energy. This is purification which is achieved through the use of fire. Yoga practices effect the fire that burns within – a good practice will foster a steady and healthy fire. A healthy fire purifies – removes obstacles that inhibit the flow of energy throughout the body. A healthy fire means we sleep well, digest well & excrete well – in body and mind.
As we continue to explore Doshas, please keep in mind that we are not aiming to increase energy but intervening in a more elaborate relationship of elements:
Fire Purifies >>>Clearing the Channels >>> Energy Flows Better
This post is inspired by this presentation by Brent Spore:
Brent touched on designing for WordPress and faced quite a challenge – facing an audiences with diverse knowledge, experience and expectations. He touched on some good ideas and I have the pleasure of sitting at home in my own time, relating to his talk.
Are you a Driver or a Mechanic?
I believe that in order to relate to the topic of designing for WordPress the first question you need to ask yourself is “Do you want to be a blogger or a designer… or maybe both?”. It’s kind of like asking “Do you want to be a driver or a car mechanic…. or maybe both?”. The skills, tools and discipline required for the two tasks are very different. Designing for WordPress often comes across as simple – because so many people are playing around with it – but there’s really nothing simple about it. Just to give you an example..
Someone asked Brent about modifying a theme’s Photoshop file. Even a “simple” task like replacing a header image assumes at least the following technical proficiencies:
Getting Photoshop (pretty expensive for non-professionals) … or finding a suitable alternative.
Learning the Photoshop basics … it’s a powerful program but not very intuitive … the initial learning curve is demanding.
Learning to work with layers
Learning to work with guides and selection tools
Learning about saving graphic formats for the web
Learning how to insert your header image into a theme
… and that’s the bare minimum and that list doesn’t cover anything having to do with the aesthetic and functional aspects of design.
I believe that websites are all about content. Expressing yourself is a huge thing – it’s about asking yourself “Who is ‘myself’? What do I want to say? Why do I want to say these things? To whom do I want to say them?”. Blogging, writing for the web is a technical expression of a personal journey – and it is an art and a skill in it’s own right. WordPress is very much in tune with all these things – spiritually and technically.
… in fact I believe that the Internet is dominated by and gravitating towards personal expression. So much so that if you’re thinking of, or someone is trying to convince you to put up a website with just a few static page – that its most likely a waste of your time, attention and money. If you put up a few static pages and expect someone to find you through Google you are mistaken. No one will find you because:
There are probably zillions like you and no way (for people or for search engines) to tell you apart from the rest.
You can’t use keywords to cheat the system, because lot’s of others have tried that, search engines picked up on it and … it simply doesn’t work anymore = don’t waste even more money on search engine optimization con-artists who will promise to magically lift your dead-in-the-water website up in the ranking of search engines.
There are probably a few people who are making an effort to express themselves in your area of expertise (with a very good chance they are are using WordPress to do it) – and they will be found on search engine results and by people looking for you!
This sets the table for a deeper look into what design can be … and instead of making it a tedious academic lecture… let’s use another example Brent put out for us. ..
If all dishwasher guy wants to do is get more customers – then instead of creating a static dead-in-the-water website he should list himself in some local online directories , place a few more adds in local papers, hand out a few more magnets for people to place on their refrigerators (or dish washers?)…
On the other hand a website creates many new interesting opportunities. What can a dishwasher guy possible write about:
What can you do to keep your dishwasher working and in good condition?
What cleaning materials are recommended or should be avoided?
Are there eco-friendly materials thaht can be used? What if they don’t get the stains out?
How to use the dishwaser effectively? Should dishes be accumulated?
How about the quality of the water – does that affect the dishwasher lifespan? Would a filter onthe main pipe help?
How did dishwashers begin? What did the first one look like? What is the future of dishwashers?
How to buy a dishwasher? What should we look for?
Are there recommended dishwashers? Product reviews? What do other people have to say?
Where is a good place to get a dishwasher?
And amazingly, the list goes on and on and on… even for a dishwaser technician… if she cares and is willing to take on the formidable task of writing for the web!
This, to me, is what designing a WordPress site is all about. It is about finding a way to express yourself – it is a wonderous undertaking, and there is so much more to it then choosing a header image, colors and fonts. A superficial, beautifully designed website with nothing interesting to say will last a few seconds. A consistently updated site with sincere & curious content will be captivating and keep people coming back, almost regardless of it’s visual design.
Maybe this is what people like Merlin Mann are talking about when they say find your niche – even dishwashers have a niche:
I recall some months ago I was preparing a salad for breakfast. I was peeling (and later seeded) a pair of cucumbers – and as I was doing that I thought to myself ‘Why am I peeling the cucumbers?’. Of course, there is a ‘logical’ answer – since we can’t afford organic vegetables we prefer to remove any potential traces of insecticide which, we assume, concentrate in the peels and in the watery center. But then it hit me that this recurring act of peeling is actually an internal movement of doubt – doubt in the intentions and methods used by the farmers that grow my food. Doubt had become an unconscious yet constant part of my nourishment.
Also some months my wish for a new Shakuhachi came true – and a semi-professional flute entered my life. The purpose of this flute was to open a door to studying with a teacher. I was under the impression that a more fine-tuned instrument is required for formal studies. Indeed shortly after it arrived I found a teacher who is kind and generous and fulfills my indulgence for a lesson once in a while.
During the first lesson my teacher attempted to assess the quality of tuning of the flute – which is difficult to do over Skype. Getting a correct pitch in Shakuhachi is a challenge – it depends on the tuning of the flute, on breathing technique, the embouchure (shape) of the lips .. and on the weather (bamboo changes pitch in varying temperature and humidity conditions). Knowing the flute enables my teacher to better guide me (or maybe more importantly not misguide me) in my playing. I was left with a doubt about the tuning of the flute. Doubt, again, this time in Shakuhachi, an instrument I took on as a part of my meditative practices.
All of my attempts to dispel my doubts regarding the tuning of my Shakuhachi failed and led to unpleasantness. I questioned the maker (who’s life work made it possible for me to hold a Shakuhachi). I resented my teacher (for causing me to question myself and the maker). I pushed myself too hard to play better, to prove that the flute is in tune and that I can play in tune, which ultimately inhibited my playing – and left me with even more doubts … until … a recollection of an incident during a lesson in my Yoga teachers training course rescued me.
We were studying Ayurveda. Our group included numerous students who had come from a background of modern alternative-medicine studies. My teacher indicated at the beginning of the lesson that some of the ideas he will be introducing may strike some of us as counter-intuitive to what we already know and believe. He suggested that we refrain from dissecting and judging the teachings, that we take them with us as a complimentary perspective to what we already know, and that only after we’ve lived them for a few years, we indulge in evaluating their truths and relevancy to our lives as practitioners and teachers. Ironically, a few minutes later, some of the soon-to-be Yoga teachers railed out against the teachings that were offered.
I applied this lesson to my Shakuhachi predicament. I decided to embrace my Shakuhachi settings, including my instrument, it’s maker, my teacher and myself. I decided that I would take a few years before making any observations or coming to any conclusions. This choice has replaced my doubts with faith. It has fostered a softer setting in which I can explore and fluctuate in my relationship with Shakuhachi.
As for cucumbers… it’s getting better but I still haven’t achieved peace. I have been asking myself why I don’t trust farmers in my society… and though I have strong intuitions I have not yet found or formulated clear answers that I can put in writing. But inquiring into the matter has brought farmers and farming in my soceity closer to my mind and heart. I am more in touch with the things I have in common with them and therefore able to experience more sympathy for them and for their choices. Sometimes I go crazy and refrain from peeling or seeding (sometimes both!!) my cucumbers.
Wait, Just Wait
In my consciousness there is an instinct associated with doubt, and it’s programmed to ‘go out and find who’s responsible … and fix it!’. It’s a stubborn instinct (as instincts will be)… and it’s pointless. Instead, waiting, patiently and softly, usually creates a window of opportunity for my attention to move inward, and given time, magical occurs: pushing morphs into embracing and the disturbing energy of doubt becomes a soothing energy of faith.
There is a famous image of Israel’s first prime minister Ben Gurion doing a headstand. I think it’s pretty impressive that a newborn country’s first prime minister was a yoga practitioner. But this morning, it is not a romantic notion that set me thinking on this path, it is a critical one.
Headstand provides a popular image for Yoga – it stands out. It providers an easily accessible metaphor for a fresh perspective on life. For many people it is a challenging posture – and when it’s finally conquered it can bring a gratifying sense of achievement.
Beyond it’s obvious physical qualities, headstand posture has energetic qualities and it can be used to affect the body’s energy system. These energetic qualities are available in additional more accessible postures that provide less distraction and enable a practitioner to go deeper and experience more subtle qualities in practice. They are much less “sensational” and it takes persistence and patience to sense and appreciate them. They require intricate breath work and lead to meditative places.
“Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country … There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So it is simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army.”
Ben Gurion made his mark on life in a time of extremism – a conflicted birth of a conflicted country from a conflicted background in a conflicted world. A country that exemplifies and in which manifests one of the most powerful forces of friction on the planet – a conflict between east & west, between established religion and fmodern politics, between tradition and free thought. An extremism that I feel almost every where around me in Israel, and as the years go bye seems to be insinuating itself all over the world.
I don’t know what Ben Gurion’s Yoga practice was like, but I wonder if instead of doing headstands and making them famous he would have have practiced and made famous forward seated bends with long and quality breath. Would he have made different decisions and planted different seeds in Israeli society, culture & politics? If he was instead famous for inhaling 12 seconds, holding his breath for 12 seconds, exhaling for 12 seconds and holding his breath for another 12 seconds – what effect that would have had on Israeli society? What if this would have fostered amongst popular Israeli traits, things like patience, attention and respect?