Sunday, May 18, 2008

Vulnerability is the Key

As a yoga practitioner and yoga teacher, yogic concepts have been very powerful growing tools in my life. Two of those concepts, compassion and presence (i.e. the act of being present), are simple to understand but difficult to embody. I mean I, for one, have difficulty with my family of origin and my next-door neighbours compassion-wise. And, while I have not found the usual absentizing substances useful for me for a long time, I would happily take a holiday from myself and read detective novels and eat cookies and popcorn in bed for three weeks if I got the chance. I am no shining star.

In my day-to-day life I also watch myself and my social discomfort. I often feel like I don't belong and that people are judging me. I have various ways I try to defend myself against this discomfort. My defences put people off. I'm just human. What I'm trying to point out is that we all have these kinds of difficulties and they hold us back. Much of our social interaction is about avoiding vulnerability.

When we are overcompensating, when we are not present, when we are not able to feel compassion, we make the wrong choices. This applies on a macro- and micro-level. This applies to the current mess in my own head and the current mess in the world.

Many people are working on their difficulties these days. We want to feel better. We want to be more compassionate. That's why TV shows like Oprah and Dr. Phil are so popular. People want clues. Oprah and Dr. Phil tell people what to do. I suggest this works only to a point. Many spiritual advisers and religions also offer less than practical advice.

For those of us who are ready, there is a deeper place that Dr. Phil and Oprah and Deepak Chopra and many pastors don't seem eager to go to. There is a key to working on these individual icky places and our collective fucked-upness. That key is learning to experience vulnerability. This has to be experiential and visceral, i.e. felt.

In this project, i.e. my particular choice for exposing myself and others to a shared experience of vulnerability,  I'm saying that by dealing with nakedness (mine and those who join me; this self-exposing blog) you are going to feel vulnerable. I'm not saying this makes sense for everyone, but the people who are drawn to this project are looking for that kind of experience. I created this project because I need this kind of experience.

Another yogic concept is the idea of practice. The more practice we have feeling vulnerable, the easier it gets until, who knows, we may get better at being present and compassionate. This will aid us individually and globally.

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