Thursday, March 25, 2010

These are my principles (If you don't like them, I have others)

I love civil discourse. Dig a frank dialogue. Heart a heated discussion. I am all over a charged debate when both sides have something to say and the verbal skills to do it intelligently. I appreciate having my assumptions challenged and being asked to clarify my statements. I may sputter a bit in the process, get my feelings hurt a little, but--ultimately--it makes me that much more secure in my convictions...or forces me to change my mind.

I'm pretty sure I'm an endangered species.

Never mind the nonsense in the US Congress or on reality TV. I'm talking about here in YogaBlogLand. I am so appreciative of my fellow yogis who are willing to go out on a limb and have an opinion and back it up (it's all yoga, baby; Yogaspy; Linda's Yoga Journey; Yoga for Cynics, Yoga Dork; the writers at elephant journal; everyone's favorite thinker Bob Weisenberg). Not only do they take a stand, but they are willing to engage all comers in the discussion.

What I don't heart (dislike button), is the crowd who hides behind the Anonymous title or accuses people of missing the joke (lame--work on your ironic tone, or show me what I missed) or, worst in my mind, advises more yoga so the writer in question will calm down. Generalizations, name-calling, unsubstantiated claims should be beneath us.

I'm not going to link to any of this (also lame-- but I don't want to seem like I'm flaming any one), but look around at this week's postings and you'll find all of it.

C'mon everyone! We're writers and readers, that's why we're here. We think. It's cool to think. If I don't agree with you, tell me why I should. If you think I'm misguided, cite me a source, chapter and verse. Prove your case. I'm a big girl, I can take it.

There are some really compelling ideas floating around...some lovely, challenging interpretations of this practice we so love. Let's talk about it. Who knows, we might learn something in the process.

But don't leave in a huff. (If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff).


Bob Weisenberg said...

I'm with you all the way, Brenda. (And thanks, by the way, for the extreme compliment.)

Generally my experience has been excellent on the blogosphere. I was half thinking I might be cyber-tarred and feathered and run out of town on a cyber-rail when I decided to start sharing my critical questions about Buddhism with Boulder Buddhaphiles on Elephant. But I threw caution to the wind and just wrote what I was thinking.

(See "How Do You Get 48 Comments on a Light-Hearted Article Featuring Rod Steward Singing “If You Think I’m Sexy”?" )

What resulted instead was a series of deep, funny, rambunctious and highly enjoyable discussions with some really knowledgeable Buddhists who engaged with me, took my questions seriously, and even started debating this and that among themselves because they disagreed.

All in all, a very satisfying experience. I ended up knowing a lot more about Buddhism, but also confirming my strong preference for Yoga philosophy. And these people have become my friends.

I did have one really bad experience recently. I wrote an overly hard-hitting comment on a new blog, and the blogger wrote back a scathing personal attack on me, then said don't bother writing a reply because he would not respond. I immediately deleted my comment and apologized for offending him, but he refused to accept my apology.

That's the only time I haven't been able to work things out in the end. It's too bad, too, because I think my provocative comment would have generated a great discussion, but as it stands there have been no further comments on his blog.

I like what you have written here. You've certainly captured what I love about the blogosphere. Great to see that other people are enjoying what I'm enjoying.


Bob Weisenberg

Anonymous said...

you need to lighten up.

Jen said...

Nice post. As usual, I couldn't have said it better myself. If you haven't heard it already, I think you might appreciate the "life raft debate" segment on This American Life:

Linda-Sama said...

thanks for the link love, dear. I'm with ya. If you're gonna talk the talk, then back it up.

You probably remember the broo ha ha that occurred at my blog with some knucklehead who left unkind comments about me....tee hee....and I called her out and she never came back.

People are very brave when they hide behind "ANONYMOUS." Just think what their real lives are like. ;)

Erika C. said...

I am glad to find a yoga blog like this. I found you on the Yoga Journal Teacher Training site.

I am a committed yoga person but wear a lot of other hats as well and my blog is an attempt to synthesize some of it.

I know I am not addressing your topic here but just wanted to say hello.


emmablue said...

Thank you for posting this. This is exactly what I was trying to express just the other day. I love to have discussions and try to understand things from multiple perspectives.

WE ARE an endangered species!

Also my husband who is a huge critic, has loved both of the most recent entries, this one and the one on the Goddess trend.

Keep it alive!

Anonymous said...

Very timely and right on...Vicious attacks in politics and lowbrow media are now expected...but, in mellow (!) Yoga culture? Whaaaa? I'm still naiive enough to be stunned by the nastiness, the judge-y-ness (shut up, it is so a word!) and the general immaturity that crops up now and again. To paraphrase the great Michael Scott,

"This is an environment of welcoming. Now you get the hell out."

And, Namaste to you, too!

Brenda P. said...

What irks me to no end is people who shut the conversation down...whether with mean or dismissive comments, or by silencing dissenters. How juvenile. "I'm taking my ball and going home!"

Have the cajones to stick up for your convictions, or I'm going to think you weren't all that convinced in the first place...

Emma said...

...but without talking for the sake of just talking. do you really have something to stand behind, or do you just like a good debate?

YogaSpy said...

Thanks for thinking of me (despite my long silence due to a same-city move). I find two things extremely helpful to clear thinking: (1) writing; and (2) dialogue/debate.

I'm a writer in my career, so perhaps it makes sense that I process thoughts by writing them down. If not, they remain half-baked in my mind. So, blogging for me is a way to bake them to a sharp crisp! So, no matter how offbeat or controversial, I stand by them.

That said, I'm always open to criticism and counterarguments. In fact I like when people state a divergent view. It makes me reconsider. Nothing is set in stone in my mind.

Of course, all parties must similarly be open-minded. When I exchanged messages with the last commentator to my first post on Tara Stiles (, I knew the conversation was rather stuck.

Expect more posts soon! Welcome back, Linda-Sama, whose voice I missed all winter. Hi Bob! Jen, I love "This American Life"!


YogaforCynics said...

"advises more yoga so the writer in question will calm down."

Oooooooooooh, there's little in this world that causes more deep-and-totally-un-yogic pissed-offness to spring up in me than that self-righteous passive aggressive "if you were as enlightened and spiritual as I am you wouldn't be offended" kinda crap...seriously, I'll take honest straightforward hostility over that any day...

Then, maybe I just need to do more yoga....actually, I know I do...but, for what it's worth, I don't pretend otherwise...and I'm glad you don't, either.

A Joyful Practice said...

This is why we love you and keep coming back - even when we don't comment.

How to appropriately respond (and exchange) with the blogosphere is a very timely subject for me because one of my students recently started posting a yoga blog that I find insightful, thoughtful, funny, and (on more than one occasion) absolutely scream provoking.

So far I have not responded (in person or on-line) because I keep checking my response and asking, "What about this point of view is pushing my buttons?" and "How can I respond in a way that clarifies and continues the dialogue without me looking/sounding like a 5-year old pointing fingers?" So far, no good answers - but I feel like I'm closer after reading these posts. Thanks to you all! Namaste.

yogayoga said...

Yes! Thank you! I wholeheartedly agree with you! Especially as we move forward in this time of global access and expansion...definitions are being questioned, challenged and redefined(as they should). I, for one, am excited to be a part of the debate. (That said, I usually do it in the class room or meditation hall...have yet to jump fully into the blogsphere.)

As I continually look at my own beliefs and ideals, it is encouraging to see others do the same.

Thank you!


Yoga Thailand

yogayoga said...

I forgot to add my thoughts on this:
"worst in my mind, advises more yoga so the writer in question will calm down" in my last comment, mostly because it's more of a fun anditotical (I think I just made a new word!) story, rather than a mature participation in the conversation/debate that you so aptly advocated in the post.

We have this running inside joke in the community where I practice mediation and yoga that goes something like this:
There's this husband and wife. They both have a practice of looking and at least understand intellectually that they create their world. Well, they're in an argument and the husband turns to his wife and asks, "Now honey, where is that anger?" And the wife says here and proceeds to slap him across the face.

Obviously, dramatized, but I think it gets the point across well.

What I've come to find in my practice (again of both yoga and meditation) is that "calmness" does not mean "calmness." In other words, just because you have a practice, by no means to you become anesthasized or dispassionate. By no means do you not "yell" anymore. (FYI, this took me/has taken me forever to come to terms with...still not "there" yet.) If anything, I think opening up to pure potential allows you to become more passionate, more outspoken. Shaking up your mind, shaking up what you believe, what you think is real, is not, from what I've seen, a serene process (not to say it can't be ever, I just have yet to see it in action at least initially). It is violent, and passionate, and explosive. It is about finding the calm within the storm and the space to engage fully with life. It is about learning who you are, in each moment, and learning how not to hold back that expression. It is becoming who you always wanted to be but were afraid to try.

And if that comes in a "harsh" package, bring it on baby!!! :-)

Wow, well, look at that, I guess I did have something to say after all.

Thanks again for starting the discussion and letting me share!

Yoga Thailand

Brenda P. said...

Yes. Totally. The "yoga advice" thing seem so sanctimonious, so smug, and is basically just brings the dialogue to a screeching halt, while adding nothing.

Lisa, Dr. Jay, you are so right. Isn't yoga supposed to open our eyes and help us to see, rather than narcotize? I think a hard, honest look at a situation is so much more truthful than blissed-out daisy-eyes and kisses for everyone.

At least it is for me. But, of course, I send out daisy-kisses to all of you...

Bob Weisenberg said...


I loved your long comment above about "calmness" does not mean "calmness".

When I first got into Yoga and started experiencing some of that greater "calmness" in my mind, I liked it, but I was also worried that it was so appealing that I might turn into some kind of emotionless Yoga-zombie if I took it too far.

Like you, I eventually figured out that Yoga liberates me to experience emotions more strongly rather than suppressing them, because they are not ego threats any more to the extent they used to be.

Now I feel perfectly comfortable with all the different sides of me, to the extent that I was able to rewrite my Facebook description as follows:

"Gypsy guitarist smoldering
Beneath the calm surface
of a Yoga writer."

Bob Weisenberg

Linda-Sama said...

as I heard Jack Kornfield (whom I love!) say once...anyone who thinks that those on a spiritual path are not supposed to get angry anymore, bull.....that view is kindergarten view of spirituality.

yogayoga said...

(Because I just keep thinking about this post....)

It's also about not apologizing for who you are, while simultaneously being open to the possibility (the VERY GOOD possibility) that you're wrong and not taking yourself too seriously. (Although I have a long way to go in finding one) I don't think that sense of humor can be underestimated. (As Bob gestured to.) :-)

And yeah, I don't really like them much either, but I'll take your daisy kisses any day!!! :-)