The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yoga and "ethnic-baiting"

"I didn't pass rules for seduction to my daughter--I have to
be honest and admit that I love the line from EdTV: 'Men are the gas. Women are the brakes.'"
OTOH, people can have more control over their lives and ensure their happiness better when they
don't rely on someone else to be the brakes to their gas. Even if they're male. :)
True. But a guy without a certain drive to get laid in his youthful days would worry me a bit. The art of control requires time to gather wisdom.

"OTOH, does masturbation count as "messing with sexual energy" too? Should a kid wait until moving out for *that*?"

Nope. Self-pleasuring is one of the great good things in life. I feel very sorry for anyone who is too guilty or ashamed to explore their own bodies.
####'s word processor actually looks pretty good. Microsoft is still lagging behind, and overall Google documents interests me most...although they have a
ways to go. Can't WAIT until I can create a collaborative novel in such a venue.
The question of Barack Obama's middle name "Hussein" came up again. Is it race baiting to use it? Maybe...but "ethnic baiting" or "religious baiting" (if such a term exists) yes. And it is definitely a play to trigger negative responses from racists, which is just as bad. Here's how it works: Imagine 1950, ahalf half Japanese-American was running for office. His name is James Asako Powell. His opponents continually refer to him as "J.A.P." Then they roll their eye innocently and say: "what's the problem? Those are his initials, aren't they..?" This is a very similar game to what I see here.
Yoga. Dan and others are experimenting with it. Here are a few thoughts:
1) Yoga isn't a "fitness" activity. It is a HEALTH activity, of greater primacy. Consider it recovery work. In other words, work out HARD and then go to a yoga class to re-align the joints, sweat out the toxins, etc.
2) Yoga is not a stretching exercise. However, flexibility is the first challenge faced by most who practice, just because the flexibility of the typical American is in the crapper. It is, however, an exercise in relaxation and focus--the qualities necessary to produce the result called "stretching."
3) The most important thing to focus on is your BREATHING. More important than everything else, combined. Begin your class by centering your breathing (imagine your breath coming to a point just below the navel). you begin moving, treat the entire class as if you are practicing cursive writing: stretch out the breath, twist it, invert it, squeeze it: BUT NEVER BREAK THE THREAD OF YOUR BREATH. If you ever went a 90 minute class without once breaking your "thread" you would have a quality of concentration rare in the human species.
4) Five times a day, at every hour divisible by three, stop and breathe for sixty seconds. As you do, relax.
5) The single most important pose is the last pose, Savasana..."corpse" or "resting" pose. Everything else is designed to teach you to go deeply into this space, utterly relaxed, but still aware. It is the doorway to the "Yoga Nidra," the yogic sleep state, where your body is asleep but your mind is awake. This is STRANGE, dudes and dudettes. Until you have laid there listening to your body snore, you don't know what weird really is.
6)Every pose has a slightly different "tone." An inner "sound" which, if you find it, makes an apparently difficult pose far easier. Search for it. There is an "easy" way to do each pose. You will only find it through experimentation.
7) Keep the lower abdominal muscles slightly tensed, and the same with the anal sphincter.
8) Bikram "hot room" yoga adds another level--heat/humidity. Relax deeply and you won't feel the heat at all. The experience of heat is a measure of your resistance to it.
9) Remember: stress does not hurt you. It is STRAIN that hurts you: stress warping your body and mind. Use the yoga as a chance to move into "stressful" experiences without experiencing "strain." It is a fabulous working metaphor.
10) Kareem Abdul Jabbar once told me that yoga was the perfect foundation for sports, and had given him extra years in his career. If you can't trust Kareem, who can you trust?
Always go to a yoga class seeking to learn something. It is not "exercise" in the western sense (making your body "do" something.) It is exploring the CONNECTION between mind and body. Eventually, you will begin to glimpse the illusion of physicality. Move beyond the twitches and itches. Go deeper, deeper, piercing skin, muscle, and finally bone, until there is nothing but breath.

Even if we were nothing but meat, this process is insanely productive. But if we are more than this (which I deeply hold), in the moments of greatest concentration and surrender, out of the corner of your eye, you will glimpse Truth.


Mike Ralls said...

Hey Steve,

Quick scenario; lets say that John McCain's middle name was Adolf. He was born before WWII, so it could have happened. Do you think that his opponents would not be stressing that middle name at every opportunity?

Steven Barnes said...

Yes, some of them would! And I'd think it a low-blow. It has little or nothing to do with who he is, or the kind of job he'd do. It would be specifically triggering negative emotions anchored to a similar name. The ONLY conceivable justifiable reason is if the opponent felt that the name represented sympathy for Nazi ideals on the part of the parents, which might have been passed to the son. Even that is so thin that I'd still have contempt for the argument, unless it was accompanied by evidence of Nazi alignment. Good one, Mike.

AF1 said...

Arnold Schwarzenegger's ties to Nazism didn't stop him from being elected governor.

Hopefully Obama's ties to Jeremiah Wright won't hurt his electability either.

Dan Moran said...

If you can't trust Kareem, who can you trust?

The first time I tried yoga, 20 years ago, it was because of Kareem's recommendation.

Anonymous said...

"'OTOH, people can have more control over their lives and ensure their happiness better when they
don't rely on someone else to be the brakes to their gas. Even if they're male. :)'

"True. But a guy without a certain drive to get laid in his youthful days would worry me a bit. The art of control requires time to gather wisdom."

I was thinking less of a teen boy not having a sex drive than of (to return to the motor metaphor) a teen boy having plenty of petrol *and* good brakes of his own. What if he lusts after someone who doesn't return the sentiment but is too weak (for whatever reason) to keep him off then? Much better for him to apply his own brakes, to listen and hold himself back, than to rape and whine "I couldn't help it" afterwards. That goes for teen girls and all adults and preteens too! :) Driving just doesn't work as well when each driver doesn't have gas *and* brakes, after all. ;)

"'OTOH, does masturbation count as 'messing with sexual energy' too? Should a kid wait until moving out for *that*?'

"Nope. Self-pleasuring is one of the great good things in life."

Yeah, good points.

Steven Barnes said...

I definitely want my son to have good brakes. Excellent brakes. But considering who gets pregnant, it is even MORE important for girls to have them.

Josh Jasper said...

In much of what I consider the civilized world, birth control is available as a public health expense. Once this was enacted in Eastern Europe after the communists left, abortion rates dropped by huge amounts.

In my perfect world, women would always have the ability to choose conception, and the education to make the decision.

Steve Perry said...

Ethnic baiting?

Oh, you Negroes -- always something ...

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

But considering who gets pregnant, it is even MORE important for girls to have them.

To some degree, I think the opposite. At least half the opposite, anyway. I think that, because girls get pregnant, the consequences are already going to be obvious to them (though, given how enticing sex is, they still need some encouragement about brakes), while boys, given the natural human tendency to self-centeredness, are in more need of having the value of brakes explained to them.

Of course, what Josh says about the availability of contraception in the perfect world is also true.

I also think that, though men are, in fact, less choosy and more open to casual sexual encounters than women, on average (never mind for the moment any debate about how much of that is nature and how much nurture), they aren't quite the pedal to the gas, will get laid on a moment's provocation, types that they make themselves out to be sometimes. I mean, when I was young, I did, sure, get lots of approaches from guys who gave not too much indication of interest in any sort of serious relationship. But, with the guys I was actually friends with in an ongoing way, if there was attraction there that didn't get consummated? My impression was that we were both, for one reason or another, putting on the brakes and choosing not to go there. On balance not choosing that particular complication with that particular person.

Steven Barnes said...

People in the "friends" category behave differently from those who are unsorted. Once there, often either there is a serious relationship potential, or nothing at all. Casual sex gets harder, I think.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Yeah, I suppose they do. But, you know, in my single days, I thought of moving from the "friends" category to lovers as the normal way to get laid, and of all of those "casual" approaches I didn't want as random background noise to be brushed away, and that did make a lot of the stuff about how easy to seduce men are resonate weirdly.

Steven Barnes said...

On average, women have an easier time seducing men than vice versa. Only the most confident men have the same level of sexual assurance of even the average woman. I've NEVER heard a guy complaining that "women only want one thing." Hah! Dream on. On the other hand, it sounds a bit like each side can get what the other side wants: men complain about being slid into the "friend" category: intimacy without sex. Women complain about being pushed into the "Booty Call" category: sex without intimacy. That would make sense. With age, I suspect that men and women begin to feel more and more alike about this issue.

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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