The overview effect
“I would love the opportunity to take everybody on 100 orbits around the world with me. You develop an increasing understanding and awareness like watching something grow and flower. And, inevitably, somewhere along the way you start to lose your sense… of ‘us’ and ‘them.’ You lose that sense that the little square that you walk around in is the only one that matters. The more people who could see the immensity of it, the beauty of it, the patience of it, the age of it, the toughness of the world and the precious unique beauty of it… the better we would all be.”
~Chris Hadfield (Astronaut)
The overview effect (according to wikipedia) ‘refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space…. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative.’
We live in a culture plagued by disposables. We eat food that comes individually wrapped in plastic, on disposable plates with disposable plasticware. We have phone plans that renew our cellphones yearly, making them disposable. We buy a couch from IKEA knowing full well that it has an approximated lifespan, but it’s cheap, so we’re ok with it. And so on and so forth. Our planet is feeling it. Natural disasters abound. And we are burying ourselves in plastic and the things we least need or want.
This mentality also seeps into our relationships. If I have a mild disagreement with someone, or if I don’t like something they say I just de-friend them. Disagreeing on one thing is now synonymous with disagreeing on everything. And because the art of debate is dead, disagreements become fatal for the relationship. But de-friending people or blocking them, doesn’t make them go away. They are still out there on the planet somewhere. No matter how you try, you cannot dispose of them unless you kill them. And that isn’t a great option either as their soul will probably haunt you for the rest of your days.
I might be a dreamer, but I’ve always been of the mind that one should start and end things well- as mindfully and sweetly as possible. I know it isn’t always easy or even an option to do right by people, but culturally and socially, there’s something very deep in me that says it’s imperative to try. And sometimes that means coming back to it time and time again. It also doesn’t mean it will be easy or devoid of pitfalls and challenges.
I haven’t always succeeded. In fact, I fail constantly. I’m human and make mistakes. I’m ok with it, though I try to learn from them. Sometimes that learning comes hard after lots of miserable repetition. Because of that, I have come to understand that I must give others the space to do the same and that if they do happen to falter, it’s not always a good enough reason to fully get rid of them. Sometimes you have to fare the bad weather to get to the sunshine and if the ship doesn’t sink, it can be beautiful and contribute something amazing to your life.
It’s a maitri (open heart) meditation practice on your feet. Isn’t that what all these practices are meant for anyway? To live and love better? If we can’t bring them into daily life, they aren’t really useful.
But It requires knowing ourselves, faith and patience that someday the other person will meet you somehow somewhere. The simple act of meeting will undoubtedly shift the energy of the situation. Meeting means that a vulnerability or a softness exists between you. In that vulnerability, one can cross over to the other. Instead of a shutting out or shunning. The true meaning of ‘us’ is in this meeting space. It is where trust, respect, and all things that are intimate and connective live.
I’m not saying one should stay in a toxic relationship. There are times when things are unmovable and systemically so messed up that the only way to find a meeting is to take a knee. When someone takes a knee and you find yourself on the wrong side of things like history it is then your responsibility to get down on your knee, meet them and accept the incredible harm you have collectively done and actively move to change it. Because earth is not big enough to hold some of the riffs we’ve created between us, which means there’s no way out but through.
As Yom Kippur approaches, my favorite Jewish holiday (even though I am not Jewish)- the day of atonement and highest of holy days- it is inspiring me to look at the landscape of my life and the people in it. I’m finding that the very energy of thinking about people feels like love in action. Ruminating on those I have harmed or made mistakes with and those who have harmed me feels like a great Fall practice. Recommitting to being brave enough to reach out and try to bridge the gap between us, if there is one seems timely. Especially with those I feel a strong karmic connection, call it bashert, if you will.
Just listening to the word atonement being spoken out loud, it is easy to grasp that somewhere in its etymology are the words tone, tune or tuning. Creating harmony, accord, unity. I speak a lot in class about how this practice is really the practice of tuning ourselves like a fine instrument. Well, there is tuning ourselves with ourselves, with our source. And there is also tuning ourselves to the rest of the orchestra, which is where the ujjayi breath comes in. We all hold a portion of the mission of keeping the breath going. If I forget or drop out you are there to support me and bolster me and the same the other way. I have written about this before, but when you play or sing with others, when you are in tune with others, your hearts beat collectively as one.
Another reason atonement seems like the perfect Fall practice, (even if we are having August in September) is forgiveness. In order to meet, the willingness to let be has to be a part of it. That’s where healing happens. Healing is an action, it’s not just this passive thing that happens to you. it involves both sending and receiving. We forget to recognize sometimes that the way forward is toward healing. It is easy to get used to carrying our burdens like trophies, forgetting that if we put them down, we will feel lighter. It’s scary to put things down. Who would we be without all the anger and pain? We may loose sense of who we are. We’d have to truly redefine ourselves. It is revolutionary.
If we were astronauts for our internal landscape, or ‘somanauts’ (as Gil Hedley so appropriately coined the word), atonement would be to us as the overview effect is to them. It would be so amazing to have the experience of seeing that ‘pale blue dot.’ Wouldn’t it?
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Trump Era Survival Kit
Who would’ve thought I would ever grow an interest in anything that happens in football, yet here we are. Because these times have been challenging in so many ways, I have started what I am calling the ‘Trump Era Survival Kit’, where I am posting articles, movies and speakers who have helped me evolve my thinking on what is currently happening and move through the mire. I will continue to add to it as they come into my sphere. I hope you find them useful. They have helped me keep my cool and keep plugging away, but have also brought to light blind spots. If I’m missing anything you absolutely love, send it along and if it touches me, I’ll post it. Check it out HERE.
April 23-May 2
Early Bird Expires October 1
The group is coming together and it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime.
And I actually mean that. Dust off your backpack and come with us. I promise I will take great care of you and it will most certainly be worth your while. Few people have been to Bhutan, period. Check it out HERE.
Early Bird Expires Nov 1
This is the best recharge in my year. It is the fourth year in a row and
counting. I can’t recommend this trip enough, especially if you need a break. We will be the only people on lengths of pacific coast beach. Check it out HERE.
Where Is My Head (workshop)
Saturday Nov 11, from 11-1:30
$35 members, $40 non-members
To register click HERE
There can be great confusion as to where the head should go in asanas and what to do with it. Yoga loads the top half of our bodies in a way that is unusual for many of us. Most of us can relate to having neck tension and discomfort in our upper backs and shoulders. So the question
of what to do with our heads, the heaviest part of the body, becomes important.
This is my attempt at giving you the information you need so you can carve out a sweeter relationship to your spine in poses, thus completing your spine in a way that doesn’t tax your neck and shoulders unnecessarily.
The first hour will be an experiential anatomy portion highlighting the relationship of the tailbone to the head. Then we will practice to integrate what you’ve learned into your asana.
The Jam (Complete Practice)
Pay at the door/ Drop ins welcome
This is a full practice with live music, asana, pranayama, meditation, dharma, stories, energy work and amazing assists.