Before I start, there are a few important details you need to know. This wonderful resource, which has been crowd-sourced and curated by Angela Jamison of Ashtanga Yoga Ann Arbor, has recently been published into a pamphlet by Laura Shaw of Small Blue Pearls and Laura Shaw Design. The pdf version is downloadable here for free (you just need to sign up for a MagCloud account); in addition, a print copy can be obtained in exchange for parting with USD 3.84 of your precious monies.
As I have already intimated, this thing is good stuff. Whether you practice at a shala or by yourself at home, this resource provides a wealth of insight that will help you to develop a most efficient and effective practice for your personal--and, by extension, the world's--self-transformation. There is, frankly, not much else I can say here that wouldn't be redundant and add to your discursive mind (if you don't know what this is, read the pamphlet). But since this is a blog post (and what are blogs, really, if not discursive extensions of our already very discursive everyday being-in-the-world selves?), I should probably say a few things anyway.
To begin, there are a few things that Angela says about mental hygiene that really resonates with me. One of the things that will inevitably arise in the practice when you do it regularly is difficult emotions. There is just something about the nature of the practice and the mind-body atmosphere it generates that brings difficult emotions to the surface. Some of these may be repressed feelings or memories from long ago, others may consist in rather mundane stuff (something somebody said to you or about you the other day, etc.) that it didn't occur to you to be bothered by until you stepped onto the mat. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that they are difficult to have to confront and be with. Mental hygiene, briefly, is the art of managing and holding the space for these emotions to be as they are, without letting them bend you out of shape (because you already are bent out of shape on a physical level :-)). Angela has this to say about this easy yet difficult art: "Let difficult emotions and thoughts arise and move on... Do not repress your experience. This deepens emotional blocks and increases unconsciousness." At the same time, however, one should also "Be cautious about repeating negative thoughts or verbal talk... It is possible to cultivate positive emotions and thoughts while accepting and studying any negativity that arises."
Angela also has some valuable things to say to folks like me who practice mostly at home without the benefit of a regular shala to attend. In the "Relationship" section of the pamphlet, she writes:
"If you are doing mostly self-practicing and are wishing for support, you are not alone. Many people practice mostly at home... The most nourishing way to receive this sort of inspiration [from a true master teacher of this method] is to keep your eyes open for a teacher who excites you and who knows something you don't. Go to them at their home base, not a workshop. Spend time practicing in, and being in, that setting. Just be yourself there. Deliver your whole mind-body to the experience. Do honest practice. Pay attention. Hang out with the teacher's other students. Prioritize listening over performing, and over trying to get approval or quick answers. Then the following year, do it again."
There is a whole lot more in the pamphlet (yes, go read it!), and I hope this has been enough of a teaser-trailer to get you motivated on getting started. I could probably ramble on a lot more if I want to, but why ramble more than you have to? So I'll leave things here. Have fun reading and exploring!
Speaking of teaser-trailers and movies, I think I'm going to go see the recently-released World War Z, after all. I had originally decided not to go see it, because the screenplay differs so much from the novel that it may as well be an entirely different story. That, plus the fact that the preview trailer gave me the impression that it's basically a Brad Pitt vehicle, featuring Mr. Pitt running around and looking like, well, Brad Pitt.
All of which is true. But the reviews I have read thus far have been quite positive. It seems that many critics have concluded that although the movie departs greatly from the novel (which is a necessity, because the original novel did not have a linear narrative, but was, rather, a collection of oral history accounts of people who survived the zombie apocalypse; hardly the sort of narrative structure you can easily translate into a Hollywood blockbuster), the director (Marc Foster) has done a good job of crafting an original story with its own character. So I'll think I'll give the movie a chance, and go see it. If any of you out there have already seen it, feel free to let me know what you think (I already know the ending from reading the synopsis on Wikipedia, so you can't spoil anything for me).
Update/Addendum: There is something else I want to say here that I forgot to talk about in the earlier (as in, twenty minutes ago) version of this post. I just read this very brilliant and insightful post by Patrick over at Ashtanga Yoga and Stuff about the ambiguous relationship between yoga and mainstream American culture. As with all of Patrick's posts, Patrick writes in a ranting, insightful and no-bullshit incisive way that I can never hope to imitate (although I think some wise guy once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...). Anyway, I thought I'll mention this post, as it's really worth a read. Check it out.