Monday, May 7, 2012

Shit hits the fan, Yoga is for Peter Pans

"Things fall apart,
Shit hits the fan,
Yoga is for Peter Pans,
But what one gives up,
Eventually comes around."

Totally useless haiku by Nobel Ang
1:00 p.m. CDT
Monday May 7th 2012

Gosh... at work the last few days, shit has been hitting the fan so hard that I can barely see amidst all this slimy, gooey stickiness. I'm not going to go into the details here, but try to picture a shitload of excrement spewing from the A-hole of the universe, hitting a rapidly moving wind turbine, sending said excrement ricocheting in all possible directions in my corner of the universe. Get the picture?

Of course, if one wants to be yogic or Buddhist (or whatever) about it, one would say that there are times when there is so much shit pent up in a particular corner of the universe that if it doesn't come out, it will only fester and become toxic and really, really kill you later on. This is quite definitely one of those times. But while it's all very nice to be yogic or Buddhist (or whatever) about it, it still doesn't change the stinky, slimy ugliness of the shit in the all-too-present immediacy of its visceral hitting-the-fan glory. Ha! Talk about living in the moment...

This is definitely not the best of blogging times here at Yoga in the Dragon's Den, if you haven't already noticed, what with the low volume of posts being generated lately, and with the rather shitty nature of the few that do come out (pun totally intended). But perhaps there are still a couple of yogic insights that may yet be gleaned from such lean times. Yesterday, I was having a rather candid conversation with my close friend L. L and I have known each other for years, so much so that we are often quite comfortable saying things to each other in a brutally honest, pull-no-punches kind of way. In a way, I do appreciate this: L often serves as my reality check. Anyway, here's how yesterday's conversation went, roughly:

L: Sorry to hear about the hard times you are going through at work. Mind if I say something not so nice?

Nobel: Sure.

L: I know that this yoga thing is the love of your life and all that. And that's great. But you do spend a lot of time practicing yoga (not to mention blogging about it). And you also take time off to go to those workshops with Kino, etc. And your employers know about your yoga workshop trips. Sure, you can say that what you do in your own time is your own business, and none of your employer's... but I can't help thinking that your employers are thinking that you are less serious about your work or less committed to it because of all this time that you are spending pursuing your hobby. And now I hear you are going to India for a month during the summer. Don't you think that maybe if you don't spend so much time and energy pursuing your yoga dreams, you might well be further along in your career now?


L: I mean, do you think all this is working out to your favor?

Nobel: Yeah... why not?

L: Don't you think you need to grow up? Maybe you need to get real, and get your priorities straight. After all, you are just barely starting out in your career...

I honestly don't really remember exactly how the conversation proceeded after this point; I mean, it was civil and all, but I kind of blanked out around the time I heard the words "grow up." But maybe this is just as well: I don't think I need to bore you with the nitty-gritty details of the rest of the conversation...

Wow. Grow up, eh? Right now, I feel kind of like the Peter Pan of Ashtanga... or maybe Ashtanga yoga is really yoga for Peter Pans, anyway: I mean, think about all these senior teachers that look like they are in their thirties even though they are actually in their fifties... get the picture?

Man, doesn't this guy need to grow up...
[Image taken from here]

I could really launch into a super-long existential-angst filled rant about whether I need to grow up. But I have a long day ahead, and who needs to read an existential rant at the beginning of spring, anyway? So I'll spare us all this agony. In any case, did Patanjali ever say anything in the Yoga Sutra about growing up? Anybody know anything here?

But very often, in these lean times, hope and inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places. I'm starting to feel that perhaps what I need to do right now is to give up. Yes, give up. As in, give up thinking and angsting about whether to grow up, or whether to this, that, or whatever, and just try my best to see amidst all this shit and move forward somehow, even if just a small step forward. In particular, I find the following lines from James's recent post to be very inspiring and uplifting. Thanks, James! So perhaps, on this note, I'll leave you with these lines:

"I gave up.

I gave up trying to impress people so they would put me on TV.

I gave up trying to get people to think I was important enough so they would publish my books.

I gave up trying to start the perfect new business.

I gave up trying to be the best father in the world.

I gave up trying to be something I wasn’t to my friends and family.

I gave up everything. I was going to die.

And I looked around and saw that many people wanted to give up but I suspected were afraid to. Maybe, like me, they were afraid they would be less happy, that less people would like them, that they would be invited to have less opportunities, that they would make less money. That fear, by itself, was actually doing the opposite – it was keeping the boundaries of their existence tightly wrapped around their egos."


  1. Hey Nobel,
    Interesting Haiku format. I think you should enter Richard Freeman's contest: How Yoga Ruined My Life. But of course, you're not on Facebook. Alas. Perhaps that's what's holding you back in your career. There you go, grow up and join facebook! But I'm sorry to hear you're having a rough time. Hope all heals well soon. And James is right. Give up and then there's nothing to lose. Give up and let go. All the best, Erica. xo.

    1. Many thanks for your kind words and thoughts, Erica. Perhaps sometimes, going through the rough time is part of the healing process.

      I'll think about joining Facebook :-)

  2. Yes, that is a good way to look at it... also, if there is THAT much coming at you, it does merit a moment...

    Recently I saw an interview with a woman who lost everything with the Madoff scam. She was being interviewed by Eckart Tolle, she said she had 30 years as a Buddhist meditation practitioner, but in the first conversation with her mother, the first thing that came out of her mouth in the desperation was "This is NOT the time to be spiritual"

    When everything hits is scary, and yet such an opportunity to experience full presence, like James says, to stop pretending, be real, scared, scarred, naked and all that, yes... but it is important also to give yourself a break! Not yet another pressure the likes of "growing up", it just is what it is...

    1. Thanks for your very encouraging and wise words, Claudia. I've read your comment about three times now, just to allow everything to sink in.

      You know, I think a time like this is both a time to not be spiritual and yet also a time to be spiritual. It forces me to not be spiritual in that "woo", "b.s." kind of way. But it is also a time to be spiritual, because I really feel every single thing that I am doing in both my daily yoga and Buddhist practice. Everything has a certain immediacy to it that's quite impossible to put in words.

  3. Don't be hard on yourself, Nobel! "This too shall pass"

    Good old Patanjali talks about the nine obstacles to practice. Doubt is a big one!
    (Here's a good overview.

    It's comforting to know you are not alone and that many have been there before you, thinking, "Why am I doing this and does it really help me?!?"

    Shit and fans are hitting each always, to varying degrees. That's life. And your friend, while well-meaning, is also perplexed by your dedication to Ashtanga, and so, gives advice about it from his viewpoint as someone who (I assume) doesn't do the practice. Take his advice with a grain of salt - graciously, but also with some pragmatism and perspective - and you may see if there is a grain of truth in what he says. Or, he could be wrong, too.

    Has your practice been, in times of great trouble, both in work and in family life, a solace and a support? Or are you drained, do you feel more harried and hectic because you chose to do practice vs. "work"? The practice can bring relief, healing and equanimity or it can bring up obsession, stress, desire. Ask yourself if you feel that the practice supports you in other areas of your life, or if it helps you in these areas. Daily practice should not adversely affect your means of living, your relationships, putting you out of whack or causing stress. If it does, then, perhaps, you need to do a shorter practice on a daily basis, even just 15 minutes. Focus on one-pointedness as Patanjali suggests, and do more Primary to ground you during the tough times.

    Growing up is overrated, btw!

    1. Thanks Michelle. I'll go check out what the big P (Patanjali :-)) has to say about the nine obstacles soon.

      Yes, shit and fans are always hitting each other to varying degrees. I guess right now, in my corner of the universe, they happen to be hitting each other at a much higher speed than usual... My friend does Ashtanga from time to time (from the point of view of us hard-core Ashtangis, I supposed he would be a "dabbler"). He thinks that the whole getting flexible, strong and having a Madonna-like Ashtanga body is all very nice, but not worth jeopardizing one's livelihood over. Which sounds very sensible. I'm still mulling over his advice.

      I like to think that my practice has helped me be myself in the midst of all this stuff that is going on. During practice the last few mornings, for instance, I couldn't help thinking of that famous Zen saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." I think the same is true of our practice too: "Before enlightenment (or whatever the big event is), roll out mat, take practice. After enlightenment (or whatever the big event is), roll out mat, take practice." It's really wonderful to know that this practice is the one constant amidst all this rapid change and flux. I feel very grateful for every downward dog, every Surya Namaskar that I am able to do. Actually, even Kapotasana feels easier with this attitude. :-)

    2. Right on! Just keep going. :)

  4. Some people live to work, and others work to live...I know that's a bit of a cliché, but there's truth in there. Hope things lighten up :)

    1. Thanks Sojii. I also think that many cliches contain at least a grain of truth. The trick is to sift out that grain amidst everything else :-)

  5. hey nobel.
    shit's hitting the fan's cosmic, just part of these shifting (shitting...haha..) times. that means, more than ever, it's important to stay committed to your practice!
    so take your friend's advice with a grain of salt, don't ignore it completely but see what/if something about it rings true to you and follow that, not what you think you "should" do just because someone says so, you know?
    it's a big year for this planet and we have to remember that when it feels like our own mini-worlds are falling apart. you are not alone! i know that sounds woo-woo, but wow, all the evidence points to that being true right now.
    stay focused on what's right for you and what your heart tell you. don't beat yourself up over uninspired blogging - that too will pass!

    1. "shit's hitting the fan's cosmic"

      Cosmic shit? Hahaha...

      Thanks for the inspiring words, Frances. I shall try my best to let this (and everything else) pass. :-)

  6. Joy: Finally doing headstand unassisted, holding a new born anything, you get the idea.

    Success: Whether that action was perceived as popular by those people you care about.

    Sometimes joy and success attend events together, sometimes they party separately.

    1. Joy and Success... much food for thought here. Thanks.