|(null8's photostream, flickr)|
-"This is the 13th time I've gone to Sxsw. Man, it's not anything like it used to be. It's grown to the point where it's just madness. I would really rather not go anymore. There's too much to see. I'm actually planning to go watch the game on Friday afternoon instead and skip the music."
- "Yeah, I might do the same."
What causes apathy, burnout or disinterest in a community?
And what does this really have to do with yoga?
|(Salvador Dali, NYC, 1951)|
And because I figure you can learn a lot about many things by examining a single thing, I'll tell you how this last week, many of us saw how one action creates a rippled reaction... how you can hear the ocean in a seashell, see three worlds in Krishna's infant mouth, and samasthitih in every single pose. So take it as you will, as cautionary tale or as a chance to plant new wishes; this is an examination of yoga through the lens of this year's SXSW music festival.
|(Nele Azevedo, Melting Man, Berlin: Installation of 1,000 melting men done in collaboration with the WWF to highlight global warming)|
|(Bob Geldof, Keynote Address SXSW 2011)|
|(Bob Geldof delivers keynote SXSW)|
The problem, he said, was complacency. "I don’t hear the disgust in music, and I need to. It doesn’t have to be literal. It has to suggest it."He then declared music to be "the most powerful cultural tool that has been invented in a dozen lifetimes. Music is dangerous." That being the case, Geldof concluded, "We need someone to pause, to reflect, to consider, to be wise, to make decisions, or to interpret, to stop time for a moment, and suggest." (Randall Roberts, LA Times on SXSW 2011 Keynote Speaker Bob Geldof)
The samskaras, (stains, patterns) that afflict the music industry hold some potent lessons for the yoga industry. After all, yoga too has some lofty goals; such that we might call it "the most powerful tool that has been invented in a dozen lifetimes". So by week's end I wondered what Geldof might have to say about yoga as a cultural industry on the brink of change. I wondered if it was possible to imagine a yoga, like rocknroll, that had lost its prana or its life-force? A yoga, that in twenty years or so, and after a few wrong turns into Deadsville, comprised a community of people grumbling about the pointlessness of their practice, while they begrudgingly dragged themselves and their expense accounts to class after class, workshop after workshop, conference after conference. What would happen if an oligarchy of a few celebrity yogis ran most studios; or if a few corporations controlled the global show and its distribution channels?
|(Postcard of Terlingua, Ghost town in Texas "Deadsville"?)|
I found myself by week's end feeling an increasing gratitude that, for the most part, the yoga community still appears to check its blindspots. So maybe the yoga community has not yet claimed complete blindness; thereby enabling and defaulting to a one-eyed king.
|(Yoko Ono, On the business of wishes at SXSW 2011)|
|(Yoko Ono and "Wishing Tree")|
Moved by current events in Japan, Yoko talked to a full room about growing up in a country plagued by post-war food shortages and a dessimated economic infrastructure. As children, Yoko's youngest brother would regularly become anxious at dinner time. So in imaginative extravagance, Yoko suggested to her brother that they try to create a menu each night. From aperitif to dessert she and her sibling created menus with the best of everything they could imagine.
And then there was a pause. Yoko smiled. She said wishing together changed circumstance... it made her brother happy.
S o perhaps what best suits our purposes in times of change is imagination. Maybe it's time to start a virtual wishing tree. You can send in your yoga wishes to this blog by contributing a comment if you have anything to add. Wishes of all kinds are welcome; as incoherent, vague or unreasonable as you would like. Or, you can simply wish them on your own terms, in your own time, and in your own headspace.
"I hope yoga is increasingly affordable for those who struggle."
"I wish yoga were part of the school curriculum."
"I wish my friend who struggled with depression had known about yoga".
If nothing else, we'll know we have a partnership of the imagination...