Spring is on its way! A couple of weeks ago in Denmark, we were blessed with longer sunny days and springy temperatures… but now we’re back to rain and staying-in weather. Weather changes, just like we humans do. We put ourselves out there, and then we need to retreat and cocoon. We work long hours, connect in many ways, and then we need to respect the body and mind’s need for rest and solo-time.
Spanda: contraction & expansion
In the past week, in my classes, we talked about the unceasing pulsation between contraction and expansion, or spanda as described in yoga philosophy, which is inherent in all of creation. The symbolic of Siva Nataraja (picture) illustrates this spanda through the damaru, the drum that emitted the first sound of creation. Like a heartbeat or a breath, the damaru reminds us that there is always a pulsation going on. Life is not only a succession of contractions and expansions, inhales and exhales, spring and fall, heat and cold, rain and sunny weather, life and death, joy and sorrow, etc., but also a product of those: the meeting of masculine and feminine energies, making one without the other meaningless. If we push ourselves in our life or on our mats, we will then need to slow down and nurture ourselves; it is just how life is, this teaching says. Otherwise, we injure ourselves or, in the long run, burn out.
The use of our devices and the risk for disconnection
I feel very grateful for what I have and built with HeartWise Yoga, my business. After less than 2 years since the birth of HeartWise, today my schedule is quite full, class attendance and private classes are nicely growing, interest for my retreats and other events increasing, etc. What a thrill!
A few days ago, a good friend of mine, an entrepreneur at heart, and I discussed how to manage online and “SoMe” (social media) presence consciously when a business is growing in today’s world. Although technology is amazing for social as well as marketing purposes, I also notice how much unnecessary noise it creates with ongoing notifications, posts, and so on. Always on, we over-extend ourselves and forget to listen our need for “unplugged” time.
Technology can also easily keep us away from in-the moment human connection. As much as I love staying connected to my dear tribe and kula (i.e. community, and thanks for being part of it!) and want to stay on page with the time I live in, I am also noticing how addictive my device, email checking, SoMe activity, and so on is. Particularly, I started to pay more attention to the quality of connection with my loved ones, and how my or their presence degenerates a little each time I or they check their phone (even if for just a minute when they go to the bathroom) or leave it on the table. Paradoxically, my device makes me disconnect from others while connecting to a “virtual” community. In addition to my immediate surroundings, I also disconnect from myself and my need for self-care.
The mechanism: a call for more love
You’re probably familiar with research showing how the use of devices, social media, checking emails, “likes”, and other notifications trigger our brain and the release of “feel-good” chemicals (dopamine); our brain going, “Yay, I’m loved” if we receive virtual attention, and wanting more. But if we do not receive virtual approvals, we can enter a more depressing state, worsening our feeling of unworthiness.
Each time I take public transportations, I am shocked by the number of persons on their devices, completely absorbed by the screen and out of touch with surroundings, and my very own tendency to also get my eyes stuck on my phone for long minutes non-stop forget where I am. I even missed my train because of that one day!
We live in an exciting time, which also is very challenging to navigate mindfully. I know how hard it is to unplug from technology. Technology is a gift that enables me to stay in touch with my tribe easily across oceans and borders. It is also a great challenge that pulls me out of the present moment, my immediate surroundings, and the connection that is potentially available right there around me. Temptations to disconnect from our body, feelings etc. are very strong and potentially pervasive in each moment. As my teacher says, every act is an act of love or a need for love. I think we are looking for love available outside, now through our devices’ “multi-powers,” and forget that we are already whole and complete, that love is available right here, inside.
“Spanda tech use”
Keeping the concept of spanda in mind, when I am “On”-line because I need to and deliberately want to, I also want to remember to take time “off”-line.
Recently, my practice has been to press “flight mode” or the “data” buttons for a couple of hours each day, and prioritize no-device times (when going for a hike or meeting a friend for example) and zones (e.g. the bedroom or the dining table). I call this the Spanda tech use.
Yoga teaches us that life thrives when we find balance, when we make space for both the contraction and the expansion, time “in” and time “out”. In order to enjoy and experience the wonder of human connection, we need to know how to “unplug” and disconnect once in a while. In our asana practice, if we just contract and build up our muscles all the time, we end up with more tension that what we started with. We need to balance active action with the gentleness of breath, our capacity to let go and release, and then engage again from a more balanced place.
I invite you to start your own unplug practice. Place a daily timer on your phone to help you remember every day to switch off your phone for a couple of hours. Go to your studio or for a walk and leave your phone at home. Rest in savasana for 20 min with your devices off. Find an accountability partner with whom you can share what you achieve every day and establish a suitable routine for both of you. The key here is strong will (Icca, or heart drive) and commitment or discipline (Abhysa). Let me know how that goes!
Unplug in Tuscany!
Are you spontaneous? And ready for a 6-day unplugging experience?
I’d love to have you unplug with me and 9 other committed, hear-opened yogis for a fantastic retreat in Tuscany, starting on March 17th. 6 days with organic vegetarian food, daily hikes in the stunning 40 ha of hills and woods, 16-20 C, and of course daily asana and meditation. I have 1 room left, i.e. 1-2 spots available. (Flight to Rome, take a 2-h train ride and we’ll pick you up).
Come travel with us and come home ready to plug into your reality with a fresh mind, a vital body and an open heart. Read more about the Tuscany Retreat webpage or reply this email to contact me and for more info.
15 % off the posted price if you mention this email.
Thank you for your practice and dedication to the path!
I cannot wait to hear from you and see you on the mat very soon.
“Light cannot see inside things.
That is what the dark is for:
Minding the interior,
Nurturing the draw of growth
Through places where death
In its own way turns into life. “