Did full primary and second up to Ardha Matsyendrasana this morning. "Chickened out" of the leg-behind-head postures again :-)
Decided to make this a slower practice today, because there were so many thoughts swimming through my Monkey Mind. Decided to try practicing what Eddie Stern told Claudia: Five counts on the inhale, five on the exhale. It took a bit of work in the beginning, especially in the standing sequence (Monkey Mind kept going: "Come on! Haven't you stayed long enough in this posture? Don't you want to get to the exciting postures of Primary and Second series?"), but once I tell my body that it's staying there for those five long breaths, no matter what, the Monkey Mind realizes it has nowhere to go, and gradually shuts up.
During my practice, one thought came to me. From my blog posts of the last few days (you know what I'm talking about, I'm not going to stir everything up again here), I learnt one interesting truth: In this country, any issue that is worth thinking about/potentially life-changing is a divisive one. Abortion, capital punishment, education, fat acceptance (you name it). Why? I don't know. Maybe it is the nature of the people of this country (sorry, I know it is probably politically incorrect to speak like this, but I believe in telling-shit-like-it-is...). Maybe, in yogic terms, it is because all the parties who are involved in these issues have deep samskaric grooves in their lives, and these samskaras manifest themselves in our speech and actions. If this is true, then something else also becomes obvious: If deep and entrenched disagreements arise because of samskaric factors, then resorting to rational argument and scientific proof can have at best limited effect in bringing about change for the better in this world (whatever "better" means to you).
Of course, this does not mean that I will give up my telling-shit-like-it-is style of blogging; if anything, you can look forward to more of this style in the near future! But I also recognize that for true change to occur, we must try to really understand why people say what they say, not just the logical or scientific reasons for their utterances. In other words, we need to understand the existential/emotional motivations that drive people to say the things they do and hold the positions they do. As some wise person once said, "What's the use of being right if you are not happy?" This is something I am still very much working on.
On a lighter note, I thought I'd share something that happened on my way to campus today. On the bus today (my girlfriend and I share one car; she takes the car, and I take the bus), I sat beside this older gentleman. We started chatting about how beastly the weather is (it's presently -9 degrees fahrenheit, -29 with windchill). As we got to my stop, and I got up to leave, he said, "Don't study too hard and burn your brains out, young man!' I was quite amused (and frankly, flattered!), and didn't bother to correct him and tell him that I was faculty, not student. In fact, this happens to me so much that I don't even bother to correct people anymore. I get things like this when I talk to random people in coffee-shops ("Oh, what are you majoring in?") and in all kinds of random places. It's a little bit more awkward when this happens in professional settings. For example, on one of my first days at work at my previous university in Milwaukee, this grad student came up to me and asked me if I was a new grad student! I had to tell her rather sheepishly (Why sheepishly? Hmm.. I don't know) that I was the new Visiting Assistant Professor. And then it was her turn to get sheepish, as she fumbled for an apology...
As I said, I don't get offended by people thinking I am a student. If anything, I am actually a little amused and flattered (I mean, I'm turning 35 soon, and I apparently can pass off as somebody in his twenties :-)). But nevertheless, I sometimes wonder why people think I am a student. Well, I have a few possible theories:
(1) The obvious one (I think): I look younger than I actually am (Yay!). Maybe I should post my picture on this blog, and then you can decide if this is true.
(2) People in this part of the country (the upper midwest) don't meet many Asians, and so they have difficulty telling how old an Asian is when they see one.
(3) The way I dress: I dress appropriately, but I don't walk around in a suit and tie, or anything that makes me look "professional". But this can't be it: Most professors here don't wear suits or ties on most days either, and they don't get mistaken as students (at least not to my knowledge).
(4) I don't look "distinguished" enough: There's probably not very much I can do about this, if this is the reason. I sometimes think that I might look more "distinguished" if I grow a big beard and a big belly (but then my practice will go to shit... no more binding in Mari D or Pasasana. So no, I won't go there...).\
(5) I have a small build: Again, there's not very much I can do in this department. Maybe investing in a pair of elevator shoes might help, but probably not by much.
Well, enough musings for now. Got to get ready for class (at least my students don't mistake me for a student :-))