Category Archives: Yoga

The Common root causes of sickness in Bees and Humans – are we both headed towards the same early human caused extinction?

The BBC has an interesting article today that links the decline in bees in many countries to the decline in biodiversity. I agree with the article and have a further take on the subject.

Shock horror – bees are getting sick for exactly the same reasons as humans – they are eating a diet and getting stressed in ways that their systems weren’t evolved for – and the cause is the modern human environment, diet and lifestyle.

Just as we are increasingly eating a diet of processed sugars and carbohydrates – that come from fewer and fewer food sources so are the bees.

Note: Processed and reconstructed variations of corn and soy make up an increasing component of the diet of humans and animals, and this includes bees. One of the ironies is that bees have access to a more diverse diet in cities than they do in the country side – there is now more plant diversity in cities than in the modern farming countryside.

Bees no longer live in stable environments. The bee industry has been commercialised. Bees are now dragged all around the country in trucks to service different farms. This constant change and travel causes stress in much the same way as we humans are stressed by changing jobs, work environments and constant travel. And it should be no surprise that chronic stress weakens their immune systems in the same way as it does ours.

And, to supplement their bland diets and increased workloads, commercial bees are fed simple sugars in much the same way as we feed ourselves sweets, sugary drinks and coffee to keep ourselves going.

The problem for the bees, and poor humans, is that they don’t have choices like the well off humans do. Their environmental choices are set and limited by the environmental conditions created by the wealthy humans who own the businesses that create these environmental conditions and employ the less well off.

The bad news for the wealthy humans is that they are shooting themselves in the foot. If the bees die off the human species will die off too.

The downside of being at the top of the food chain is that we humans are dependent on the survival of the species lower down the food chain for our survival.

While the wealthy have the option of escaping climate change and environmental damage in the short run, by moving location and putting on the air con, the species on which our survival depends do not have this luxury.

99.9% of species that have been on this planet are extinct and we are now in the midst of the 6th great extinction. And this extinction is being caused by us humans.

Alan McCrindle

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Filed under ecology, Economics, Evolution, Politics, Strategy, Yoga

Is the gym contributing to the unhappiness epidemic? RX – Yoga

Happiness is relative – it is the natural state that occurs when unhappiness is absent. Therefore the best way to become happy is not to seek to acquire happiness but to develop the skills to remove the causes of unhappiness.

 

I was reading a news story in the New York Times yesterday about the latest research findings on happiness. It was titled “What happy people don’t do”. In a nutshell the discovery was that happy people spend a lot of time socialising, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.

 

That’s what unhappy people do. And data show that people who spend the most time watching television are least happy in the long run.

This got me thinking about Television and the gym – could there be unintended consequences of the usual gym workout routine? Could the gym be making people unhappy?

If you go to the modern gym the chances are you will see television screens everywhere. And if you go into the actual gym area you will see most people staring at these television screens while they are working out. Recent research found that 70% of gym members watch TV when they go to the gym and they watch 40 minutes on average per visit.

 

Why are people watching TV while they are exercising? Because what they are doing is boring. Watching TV keeps them distracted and detached from what is going on.

 

Another way to read this is that many people are actually paying money to train themselves to disconnect their minds and their bodies. They are training themselves in mindlessness and distraction. And now the latest research shows that by watching more television they are probably training themselves to be more unhappy too. 

 

Yoga is the antithesis of the gym/TV gig. Yoga is a training in mindfulness – it is mental, physical and emotional training rolled into one and  interconnected. You learn be present, to live in the present moment and to connect with the flow of life. You learn to become yourself and express yourself. You learn to connect vs. disconnect. You learn to focus and pay attention vs. training for distraction.

 

Yoga can be a practice that transforms your life. The purely physical aspects of yoga, like the physical aspects of working out at the gym, will slide away if you stop practising. And many forms of yoga don’t really get much past this anyway – especially when they are taught in the gym environment and by people with a minimal training qualification. On the other hand, the promise from yoga schools that weekend, one day, one week or one month courses will transform your consciousness are straight out right lies and fly in the face of yoga. 

 

The real long term benefits from yoga come from learning a new way to relate to yourself and to life. We are trying to teach you a generic approach and skill that you can apply to the whole of your life. That is what we encourage you to practice. The real practice of yoga has nothing to do with “perfecting” certain physical positions in terms of how they look from an external perspective – that approach teaches “conformit”y and the idea that self value comes from being perfect in the eyes of  standards set by an external authority. In Yoga we are teaching you to connect to, and express yourself from, an “internal reference point” – to be internally directed rather than externally directed.

 

Our desire is for you to learn to  connect to, and align yourself with, the actual flow of life and the reality of what is happening. 

 

 Three  key qualities we want you to develop are concentration, clarity (discrimination) and equanimity.

 

Yoga is ultimately about relationships and, as the happiness study shows, it is relational activities that contribute to happiness. One of my teachers, TKV Desikachar, once said to me: ” from the perspective of yoga it is more important for your students to fix their relationships with their mothers than to be able to do any yoga postures or breathing exercise”

 

And a few final thoughts about happiness. Happiness is a relative concept. The state of happiness exists relative to the state of unhappiness. If unhappiness were to disappear then happiness would also disappear.  If you doubt this I suggest that you reflect on your own experience. When you are happy do you consciously register the fact? How much of your time do you spend thinking about how happy you are? I imagine very little to none. When we are happy we aren’t usually aware of it. But unhappiness is the opposite – when we are unhappy we are aware of it and think about it – but we don’t generally think  “how do I become happy” – we think “how do I get rid of this unhappiness” . 

 

If we were constantly happy we would become used to it just like we become used to anything that doesn’t change – it would be the normal state and life would be become flat. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t aspire to be happy.

 

Maybe we would be happier if we focused on first avoiding doing the things that made us unhappy rather than trying to work out what makes us happy. But then where would the whole happiness industry be? 

 

I have in front of me right now a brochure for the fourth annual conference on “Happiness and it’s Causes – Tools and Techniques for a happier life”. Somehow I don’t think that “Unhappiness and it’s causes – tools and techniques for removing unhappiness” would sell as well. Happiness is now a consumer item – something to buy, something that is acquired, rather than the natural state that exists when unhappiness has been removed. Feel free to go along and get scalped.

 

As a caveat I should mention that we do have an aspect to yoga practice where we learn to generate positive internal self talk, positive images and positive emotional states. These practices are done with the intention of training consciousness and development of concentration, clarity and equanimity.

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Filed under Happiness, Yoga