Sunday, May 5, 2013

Coming Soon: Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie




Dear friends,

Today I am busy at work finalizing my upcoming book "Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie", about the pitfalls I experienced on the yogic path and how you can avoid them. The book will make its debut at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in the UK later this month. In the meantime, though, here is a teaser for you to enjoy:


We use the word “junkie” loosely. You can hear it uttered with enthusiasm when someone expresses particular zeal for something. They may be addicted to that thing. But the offhand use of the word can easily mask what may be a shady underbelly lying in the darker recesses of their psyche.


The word “junkie” ultimately refers to someone who is an addict. As such, it points painfully to a human being who erroneously identifies with some elusive external substance, person, place or thing as his or her source of permanent happiness. There are many forms of addiction deeply interwoven into the fabric of our culture. Addiction is somehow a part of the modern, human psyche. The popular, casual use of the word “junkie” seems to give us unspoken permission to broadcast our compulsions in a way that does not ask us to look more deeply at them. Inadvertently, the word illustrates how we culturally enable repeated choices that do not bring us lasting joy.

We can see these cultural shadows easily if we look at the prevalent, and often socially accepted (or at least tolerated), addictions rampant today, such as, alcohol, cigarettes, shopping, sex, food, overworking, and overworking out. We encourage this fight and flight to perfection - the perfect house, the perfect mate, the perfect body, the ideal sublime - through a deep-seated, often unconscious distorted relationship to our self, to each other and to the divine. This in turn, feeds our sense of dissatisfaction and attachment to the perfect something out there that we “need” to make us – finally – feel happy.

When I was in architecture school, some of my fellow competitive, rise to the top, type-A classmates seemed to exhibit a fascination with insanity and compulsive behaviour. Somehow, the weirder, wilder and more off your rocker you were, the cooler, more avant-garde, edgy and creative you had become. This fascination was not born in a freshman architecture studio. It may have come to the forefront there. But in each student who showed those characteristics, a previous tendency for such already existed in their personality. It could have been incubated at home, at school, in institutions, through the media, in society at large or perhaps with friends. Wherever it had been fed, the drive and work ethic that my classmates and I shared illustrated a tendency that is socially prevalent and highly encouraged, yet whose shadow is seldom discussed.

Because of a deeper, spiritual malaise, our lives are driven by restless wanting. They seem to go on and on, as though we were helplessly tied to a merry-go-round built on fa├žade and temporary pleasures. We may be too numbed out to willfully pause, take stock and embrace positive change, until something dramatic happens that shakes us from complacency and wakes us up from the spell. We conveniently float in a stew of short-term getting by above a dark underbelly, until our lives come to a crashing halt due to illness, injury, failed marriages, job losses, even death of a loved one. It is only once we have been knocked to our knees and are closer to the ground, that we can see the shadows we have carried with us all along.

I have seen overt addiction destroy marriages, ravage careers and occasionally take a life. But I have also seen covert addiction to an ideal sublime wiggle its way into the lives of spiritual aspirants, who have shifted the focus of their driven personalities from social or cultural success, to a spiritual drive for what is perceived as “good” or spiritual. In the same spell-like state, they too may feel above it all, but the same shadows still lurk below.

Whether or not one is an addict, in the spiritual community it is surprisingly easy to make a lateral move and appropriate a spiritual identity in exchange for one we deem less desirable, all the while sidestepping our shadow. I know, because I did just that.    


Enjoy the gift of this day,
Parvati

No comments:

Post a Comment