Friday, October 15, 2010
The Mind/Body Politic
Watch out. I'm on a rant - of sorts.
But let's first start with the zen of yoga. Yoga is a spiritual practice that connects the mind and body through the breath. In Hatha Yoga - aka Vinyasa Yoga or Flow Yoga - every movement that a practioner takes on a yoga mat is accompanied by a breath, either an inhale or an exhale. In this manner, mind and body function as an organic whole. This is the zen of yoga.
Have you ever noticed that some people are not very adept at body movement or physical activity? The body is doing one thing - moving, shaking, eyes going every which way. The mind is essentially disconnected from the body. In other words, the mind cannot stop the body from its disassociated movements. It's plain and simple helter skelter. We always say in yoga: quiet eyes; quiet mind. When the the body is functioning on its own and the mind is going in another direction, we might notice that the person is clearly not present. Then what? There will be very little real communication and that's when the going gets very, very difficult.
My Jungian therapist once told me that when two people have a conversation there are really four people speaking. The Man: he is speaking from his anima (his female aspect) and from his animus (the male aspect). The Woman: she is speaking from her anima (her female aspect) and her animus (her male aspect). How complicated is that? No wonder conversation between the male and female is fraught with difficulty! Connect that concept to our national dialogue and it's no wonder than we have a nation at sixes and sevens.
So we've got people who have issues with mind/body connection and we have people who are speaking either more from their masculine or feminine side and there is miscommunication all over the place.
I'm not in favor of dismissing this situation with a clever bon mot, as in "it is what it is." Yes, it is what it is but unconscious communication this default system produces can be emotionally and psychologically damaging to a heathy mindset - to the body politic. Besides, it produces mounds of dysfunction in the form of lies and innuendos, self-deceit and egomaniacal behavior. I don't think politicians have ever heard the yogic phrase: Park your ego at the door.
The lack of a mind/body connection reminds me of America's Realpolitik at the present moment. The recession has brought out the very worst in people. As Maureen Dowd wrote in her op-ed piece in the New York Times, October 17, 2010, American's got a few too many mean girls extracting more than a pound of flesh from those "socialists" democrats as they campaign to become members of the legislative branch of government. "Man up, Harry Reid." It gives the term "mean girls" a new context.
As a result, our political landscape is subjecting itself to heaps of dysfunctional (unconscious) conversation among various individuals who represent particular groupings of like ideologies. They are much like talking heads. Their rants are is very disturbing. We are subjected to a wealth of opinions fabricated out of thin air and definitely not based on an intelligent understanding of economic facts and how these facts might play out in the future. Friday night I saw the head of the Tea Party from one of our states going "head to head" with a prize winning economic journalist from The Wall Street Journal. She couldn't be wrong on facts because she had committed them to memory and he obviously had no research behind his remarks because he, well, Neil Walker was just a journalist for The Wall Street Journal.
The spread of dis-information becomes emotionally pervasive and produces reactive and negative responses that, in turn, produces more of the same. No way to get off this treadmill. Closing the eyes won't help because you'll just fall off and get a huge black eye and a broken ankle.
Heaps of anger produces rage. And the rage is accompanied by irrational words that take the form of emotions; subsequently, the mind and the body become less and less connected. If one is full of rage, it's difficult to remember that the cataclysm began with the economy's collapse and Obama's election. And when things go bad, people demand a fall guy because none of the bad guys went to jail or paid any meaningful price for their crimes of greed. Greed upon greed... The name calling began in earnest on election day because for many hope was a word without meaning and a platitude without substance. And the real body politic fell away.
We boomers had our Cuban Missile crisis, our Vietnam, our Pentagon Papers, our Watergate, our Iranian hostage situation, our Iran Contra, and our skirmish in Grenada. We had plenty to be angry about in those decades, but our mind/body connection stayed relatively in tact.
Anger solves nothing, produces nothing but chaos. Then the mind descends into irrationality and paranoia. The empathic nature of man is nowhere to be found. And fools appear everywhere. There is gay bashing and witch hunting, as in "don't ask, don't tell," and bogeymen Madoffs, and Islamophobia, and identity disorder. All the while we are given the privilege of wearing guns at Starbucks and at political rallies and we bail out executives who lost our money and our homes while we suffer the results of deregulated financial institutions. And we are told in anger that we came out on the losing end. And it's always someone else's fault because we weren't paying attention to our government.
This economic recovery is agonizingly slow and no one has precise answers to make our future better. Those who are in positions to make decisions are sometimes as lost in their morass of facts and graphs and charts and sleepless nights and frustrating days as are ordinary citizens. Our nemesis is our need for instant gratification and the inability to see the macro - the larger picture of how to obtain a positive outcome to our economic malaise. The larger spiritual problem is that our minds and bodies do not act in consort. Until they unite in a compatible construct, we will stay in a state of suspended in unconsciousness instead in a state of grace.
I suggest the body politic take a pill and meditate.