I used to like arguments and confrontation. I used to pride myself in saying I was argumentative and I wasn’t afraid of confrontation. I would laugh off arguments and say I was enjoying it, I was enjoying winding people up and hearing their comebacks and dismissing them. Now I realise that I wasn’t enjoying them, I was actually disturbed by arguing but hey, I was young.
Now I’m depressed and older I don’t like arguments. I don’t get riled up and excited or think of pithy replies. I usually just cry. This isn’t the best comeback. My arguing days are over and I’m glad of it.
I’ve noticed that for a path that’s meant to help us all achieve unity, or the inner realisation of our deepest selves, yoga creates a lot of friction. I’ve watched from afar at the various infights and taken mild interest at the debates about “what is yoga”. In the past I might have taken part, or if the old me had not got depressed and carried on being an argumentative asshole I might have taken part. Now I just read and think. I don’t say. Because I’m scared that people will say something to hurt me and I’m too vulnerable to deal with that.
I never intended this blog to be a general critique of the world, because I don’t think I’d be very good at writing about that. But then I read an article in the Guardian on Tuesday. Here it is. At first I just rolled my eyes and carried on with my headstand attempts (yes I’m still going!) It’s a typical Guardianista article, dismissing and sneering at anything that’s slightly different. There’s also the healthy dose of self-loathing in there because they know that being a left-leaning paper there will be a fair few yoga practitioners reading it and loving having the shit ripped out of them. It’s the same way they ridicule ‘ethical’ issues, exercising, cooking and many other things that Guardian readers taken an interest in too. God forbid that we embrace these things we choose to do.
The article itself pissed me off a bit and I decided that I would look at the comments to see if there was any healthy words of dissent. I was disappointed. Comment after comment after sneering comment ridiculing this practice which has helped me recover from depression. It was depressing.
Mainly I was hurt that my fellow human beings can be so callous and close minded as to criticise and pigeon-hole something they obviously know nothing about. I don’t know why I have this attitude, I (hopefully) don’t know any of these people and they’re not going to stop me practicing yoga and I certainly don’t think they have any responsibility towards me. Still, it hurts.
I grew up with this paper and I grew up with this attitude. Anything “new-age” was observed at from a safe, sarcastic distance. I was never so insulting as those commenters but growing up with the attitude does affect your own attitudes. It’s very much “us and them”.
Us= realists, intellectual, intelligent, sense of humour, understanding and appreciation of sarcasm, understanding of the vastness of the world and our insignificance in it
Them= vain, vacuous, airy-fairy, po-faced, stupid, gullible, too earnest, inflated sense of own importance
It took a complete melt-down of my sense of self and a healthy dose of misery to knock this attitude out of me. Viva la depression! I just thought: I’m not coping with my current way of thinking, how about I try something new? And lo and behold yoga came into my life. So in a sense I do feel some understanding for these people who didn’t go through what I did, they never saw the light. It’s not their fault.
But then again, why do they have to be so unbelievably close minded about it? Why bother dismissing something you know nothing about?
In the end it is their loss and they can’t stop me doing something that is so beneficial for me. Something that is helping me recover from depression. No job, no pill, no doctor, no counsellor, no well meaning friend could do that. Yoga does.