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I’m currently in Byron Bay experiencing incredible music at the annual five day BluesFest Festival. I’ve invited my friend, and fellow yogi, to write a guest post for today on a topic that’s at the heart of yoga for me. I’ll be back next week.
For the first time ever, it occurs to me that Winston Churchill may not have been completely right when he urged “Never, never, never give in”, meaning presumably win at all costs. But is winning the war always worth it? And what would Churchill have made of the vulnerability movement?
We are being urged to be “vulnerable” – particularly those among us who are males, especially old male warriors like Churchill. On the face of it, this appears ridiculous. Soldiers going back to the Roman legions know what it means to be vulnerable. It’s from their language, Latin, and means “able to be wounded”, therefore open to pain, maybe death. Why would anyone want to be vulnerable?
Well, it turns out that the latest research – as we are told with such annoying frequency – demonstrates that, paradoxically, being willing to be vulnerable may give us more of what we actually want.
Leading the charge is a tough, funny Texan called Dr Brené Brown, who might be called the Queen of Vulnerability. An academic researcher and speaker, in Houston in 2010 she delivered a TED talk called ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. To date it has had 14 million internet hits. (To make it 14 million and one, go to the link below.)
After 10 years’ study of vulnerability, or rather its source, which she says is shame, Brené Brown suffered a self-confessed breakdown (though her therapist called it a spiritual awakening). But she found that we need to confront and acknowledge our personal shame – the fear of being inadequate, not belonging, or not being loved – in order to “find our way back to each other”. The biggest, most dangerous myth about vulnerability, particularly for men, is that it is weakness. On the contrary, says Brown, vulnerability – emotional risk, exposure and uncertainty – is “our most accurate measure of courage”. It is also the key to being loved, to “finding our way back to each other”. Her mission is now helping people to connect.
Having listened to Brené Brown – and tested her theory – here is a two-word confession from an old male warrior: it works. In conversation with my partner of many years, I discover that sore points, which for decades have needed defending with grim Churchillian fervour, may soften and even disappear. Drop the armour and there’s more amour!
Perhaps another Roman tradition helps explain this need for pain. When Cupid wounds us with his arrow, we fall in love – long identified by rationalists (read: men) as a form of madness. Why then do our poems and songs constantly proclaim our yearning for love? And why do those same rationalists, struck by the arrow, succumb so willingly?
“Make love, not war” was the song of a generation, protesting against the Vietnam war 50 years ago. But a necessary step to make space for love is to admit our vulnerability and shame – and without doing that we will never put an end to war.
The Brené Brown speech on vulnerability is at http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability. Her speech on shame is at http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame
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The LinkedIn Team
Last night I slept on a thin futon on our friend’s floor. Their apartment is small; Daniel got the couch.
During the night, I started to experience my first hip pain since having the replacement more than two years ago. Not arthritic pain, just bony bits meeting too firm a surface. Ouch.
The ache in the hip went on for most of this morning till I could finally adopt a few yoga moves. Walking some distance lubricated the machinery, so I’m in good nick again.
Moral of the story: I’m too advanced in years and too skinny for floor surfing. Blow up mattress, more salubrious lodging or I get the couch next time!
Don’t we love these April days when the daytime temperatures are clement, the sun shines brightly, and the nights are cool for sleeping?
It’s easy to do dynamic yoga practice at this time of year because you won’t get overheated and sweaty. And, strong practice prepares you for seasonal transitions and any dreaded lurgy waiting to ambush you come winter.
Here’s a beautiful sequence with plenty of standing poses and backbends.
Supta Baddha Konasana
Supta Urdhva Hastasana
Ardha Jatara Parivatanaasna
Setu Bandhasana (Dwi Pada Pitham)
Adho Mukha Virasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Adho Mukha Vrshkasana
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana with block between knees
Uttanasana with block
X legged @ wall
The other day my computer crashed. I felt like a baby that had lost its dummy. My first thought was: do I have back-ups? I wasn’t sure, and that’s bad.
I wonder if other people get as mad at their computers as I do with mine when it won’t bend to my will. My thinking is that a computer is this labour-saving thing that is supposed to make my life easier. Most of the time it does. Then, just when I’ve been lulled into thinking we’re working as an efficient team, the machine does something completely aberrant. Or, I expect it to do something spectacular that I think computers are supposed to do, but it can’t.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I get mad at my husband, too, when I can’t work something out on my computer. He’s a smart IT guy, steeped in computer nous, and a brilliant problem solver. When I ask him why the blasted computer isn’t working properly, unbelievably, he sometimes doesn’t know. He might even say, “Reboot!”
Well, on the day when I thought my computer had died, Daniel did manage to resuscitate it.
I promised the Powers That Be that I would not be so reactive to my Mac or my husband, and that I would check on my back-ups.
“What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne
Yoga friends are forever…well, at least the best ones.
And sometimes they invite you to their significant birthdays and encourage you to dress up.
Here’s Eve in her best 70’s Glam attire, and her new friend Barry Gibb or is it Bjorn?