Friday, February 20, 2015

Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book (part five)

"Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book" is a spiritual journey through several contorted bodily positions, plus a voice of wisdom from a land twelve and a half time zones away. 

Part Five: Child's Pose

Now that you are in child's pose, your body is fully rested. But your mind is still crazy. Your mind is still thinking of shopping lists and TV shows and old regrets. That is why you have come to yoga class. You think maybe you came for fitness? Don't be silly. Your body is fine.

All your discontent is coming from your mind. All your discontent is keeping you up at night. All of your discontent is leading to online shopping sprees and 2 a.m. browsing of Facebook. It's 2 a.m.! Your body doesn't want you to browse Facebook. Your body is ready for the world to shut up!

Close you eyes. Imagine your mind: it's a fortress where all the soldiers are on high alert. That's because you told them something important could always happen at any moment. But you were wrong. Important things don't happen any moment. Important things don't happen that often at all.

So tell the archers to ease out of their position and let their bowstrings relax. Tell the spear-men to set down their pointy sticks and throw the city gates open.

Let your exhaustion pour into the fortress. Let your exhaustion conquer you. Let your exhaustion replace the soldiers' torches with Tinkerbell nightlights and the guard dogs with teddy bears. Then lie down, O General of the fortress of hustling chaos, and go to sleep.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book (part four)

"Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book" is a spiritual journey through several contorted bodily positions, plus a voice of wisdom from a faraway land of the free and home of the brave. 

Part Four: Cat Pose

You don't need to be angry to arch your back. You don't need to smell the scent of some invader's urine or come home to find some stupid human has bought the wrong cat food again.

No, just let your back lift itself up because that's where it wants to be. And let your head hang down, down, because that's where it wants to be. Don't you wish you could walk into meetings this way? In your mind's eye, you can. Go back to your last meeting in cat pose. Watch yourself shift abruptly into cobra pose--then back out. Into cobra pose again!--and back out.

In cat pose, you are at once above everything and disconnected from everything. Keep your back high, your head low. Breath in or out when you want to. You're a cat. You don't need permission for anything.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book (part three)

"Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book" is a spiritual journey through several contorted bodily positions, plus a voice of wisdom from a faraway land where mom is not someone to mess with.

Part Three: Warrior Pose 

Breath in. Extend your arms. Reach forward and backward at the same time. This is what I expect of you, because this is like people expect of you all the time. Reach backward. Reach forward. Get out of my way, I'm driving too fast while I talk on a cell phone and I haven't been watching for my exit. Slow down: no, speed up! Look ashamed when I honk my horn at you! Look ashamed!

Now breathe out. In yoga, we find peace. If you feel at peace, if you feel centered in your own spirit, you are ready to go out into the great bumper car race with other spirits that is life. This world is like an amusement park. It costs too much, it's crowded, you spend most of your time standing in line.

So you have to learn a certain dignity. Breathe in. Soon it will be time to speak from your chest, and say the mantra my mother taught me when I was young and she took me shopping to the market. Let the air rush through you as you repeat after me:

Real price kya hai?!? Discount? Discount? 

Now breathe out. That was great. That brings back memories. When I go home, I'm going to get on the phone to customer service. I'm going to talk to them like mom would, make them wish they'd never been born.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book (part two)

"Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book" is a spiritual journey through several contorted bodily positions, plus a voice of wisdom from a faraway land where most of the streets have no names.

Part Two: Downward Dog

Why are you going into this pose? Get up! You are not a dog. You are better than a dog. You been to India? Take a close look at some street dog next time you go. Mangy skin, matted hair, full of fleas. Tell yourself this: I am part of the universe, but not that part. Never that part.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book (part one)

"Life's Little Yoga Instruction Book" is a spiritual journey through several contorted bodily positions, plus a voice of wisdom from a faraway land where much of the food actually tastes good.

Part One: Table Pose

In Table Pose, you hold the weight of the earth on your back. It is heavy, but don't let go: you'll spoil dinner. Feel the strength flow up through your arms, and from your knees to your hips. Feel the guests come in and seat themselves around you, but don't think too hard about them. You find yourself embarrassed, maybe, just imagining guests with their knees under your chest, forgetting what their moms said and putting their elbows on your back. Why? Only because your mind is filled with illusion. Guests are part of the universe, just as chairs, plates, cups, spoons, and dust are part of the universe.

Breathe in. Don't cough on the dust.

Worrying about what others will think of their experiences is like worrying what the plate will think of the food that gets dished onto it. The plate is made to hold all kinds of food. The person is made to have experiences, good and bad.

Sometimes people come over like plates full of their own food that's none of your business, but they still spill all over the table. Don't get mad, just get a rag. Breathe in, breathe out. Switch to another pose.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reply to a former student

A former student recently wrote me asking about the future of blogging and email technologies. My not-so-concise off-the-cuff thoroughly-researched reply is as follows:


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why I Don't Want the Government to Have My Data

Many people on the internet these days are terrified that the Government will go all Big Brother on us and start adding words to the language, stereotyping us based on our phone records, or forcing us to join patriotic Facebook games. And for some reason, the Government's repeated assurances that it only wants information so that it can infiltrate anti-Government brotherhoods has done little to calm these 1984-inspired fears.

But I would like to say today: I am not really afraid of what the Government will do with my data.

I am worried about what someone else will do with my data once some random government employee leaks it out.

Consider the following nightmare scenarios:

1) A secret court authorizes the Government to monitor our credit cards so that they can see who's buying ingredients for explosives. A week later, all your money has been spent on porn ordered to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, dwelling place of one Mr. Julian Assange.

2) The government starts collecting data from grocery store loyalty cards. Communist gorillas track you down to reclaim all your bananas for the primate-ariat.  

3) A recent hire for a government contractor leaks your phone metadata to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and suddenly your mother is armed to the teeth with proof that you really never do call her anymore.
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