Sidewalk Bully Seeking Human Connection:
A Journey into the Desire for Chaos
In yoga, the study of the self is most accessible when the mind is stilled. The mind is stilled through pranayama or breathing. Breathing consists of three parts: inhale, exhale, and breath retention. This practice will take us to a place of detachment from desire, which is one step closer to contentment. Of course, all of these concepts are more complex than the one sentence I’ve written here.
It’s easiest to associate desire with your body parts...the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. Focus in on what objects these body parts desire or what actions they want to do. Notice that when you give into one of these desires, your other parts may want more. For example, the eyes want Netflix which in turn makes the mouth want pizza. The nose may want a fire, so the skin wants pajamas. And so on, it goes. One big desire loop. Desire feels wonderful when it is satisfied as long as it is balanced with the practice of detachment to desire. This detachment practice will create freedom from perceived “needs.” If you practice withdrawing from these parts of your mind, then perhaps you will notice less moodiness when you don’t watch TV or drink that beer. The emotions that appear as a result of withholding can be a sign of addiction, which is the opposite of freedom. When we can say “coolio” when things work out or not (i.e. take it or leave it, “it's all copacetic”), we become closer to that freedom. I digress.
The focus of this blog is mostly based on my personal experience. I never want to suggest that I know how another person is experiencing life, but I hope that you may find what I’ve learned relates to your own experience. Perhaps it can be helpful, perhaps not. This blog is a self-study of desires. And in my case, the desire for chaos.
My husband is the clean one in the relationship. I have only become clean due to cohabitation. Before I lived with my husband, I made cleaning days into a fun event. I would turn on music, get all jiggy in my cleaning mode, and then revel in my success at the end of it. This amazing cleaning event would happen about every two weeks. So, here’s the deal. I make trails in my home. You can easily see what I’ve done that day; simply follow the bread crumb trail of my life. There might be a neti pot and a half-drank coffee cup on the counter followed by a lone sock on the couch, a cosmetics bag on the dining room table, and dog leashes trailed across the floor. The objects of my day are strewn across the house in some sort of weird progression. It drives my husband crazy. When I was a server for many years, it would also drive my co-workers bonkers. Today, in one of our many fun arguments that happen from time to time, my husband exclaimed in frustration, “do you want to just live in chaos?”
Let me just say that my husband is a passionate Italian, so his version of chaos may be a bit exaggerated in his mind. However, his question (after creating initial defensiveness) led me to think longer about this idea in relationship to yoga and self-study. Is there a part of me that enjoys a little chaos? Whenever I get mad at my husband, just as the yoga texts describe, I get instantly attached to my desire to come up with more ways that he has made me mad and more ways that I can remind him of how he can work on himself!
Here is a great passage from Yoga the Iyengar Way by Silva, Mira, and Shyam Mehta:
“According to yoga philosophy, the mind is the instrument of perception and action. The Sanskrit word for mind is “manas.” Mind is one of the primordial principals of nature. It is part of the greater principle of consciousness (citta). Citta has three components, mind, intellect, and ego, and is permeated by three qualities: lightness which makes the mind clear, intelligent and peaceful; energy, giving it driving force that can be used for good or bad; and lastly inertia, producing stability as well as dullness. The interplay of these qualities gives rise to mood swings” (pg. 154).
The part that really resonates is that first sentence: “the mind is the instrument of perception and action.” I think about how many of my actions have been purely from my personal perspective. Here’s an example of my perspective and (again) a fun way that you can hear about how my husband annoys me. Love him dearly, but marriage is real ya'll. When I walk my dog in a park, on a street, or during a hike, I have this perception. I have this idea that when I pass people, we can all blend together for a second and then eventually be organized again. A momentary chaos if you will. My husband is always telling me that when I walk right into a group of people, I need to put my dog on the right side of my body so he doesn’t get in the way. There’s all this emphasis on getting in someone’s way. God forbid I get in somebody’s way.
I think because I grew up in the south and we chat so often with each other (especially when you pass someone on the road), I look forward to those moments of chaos. Maybe it’s because there’s this little part of me that doesn’t really know what is going to happen. Let’s be honest...we get very little spontaneity in human relationships these days. We have SO much time to think about our response to people with the advantage of texting and social media. There is no healthy chaos to work it out in the moment. There’s something to be said for practicing the mental action of flexibility in new and awkward situations. I’m not saying that we should just start getting oddly close to people to create an organic experience, but I think there is something to be said for the lack of this clumsiness in our modern lives. I mean…I miss it. In thinking about it more deeply, I believe that I have a desire for momentary chaos in the hope of a human connection and maybe a delightfully random exchange. Is that so much to ask for in life?
When my husband and I hiked King’s mountain the other day, I was walking so fast down the hill that he became really scared that I was going to bulldoze the people in front of us. Of course, I would never do that to someone. However, I might sneak up on them and be like…“HELLO!” So now we come back to the original question of the fight, “do I want to live in chaos?” I think the obvious answer to the question is, “of course not!” I mean...not in the traditional sense at least. Nobody wants chaos all of the time, but we do need a little bit of this unexpected, unanticipated, and unplanned activity in our lives.
The house cleanliness debate is yet to be determined, but my husband’s remark did spark a little bit of yogic self-study...for which I am thankful. In doing this bit of soul searching, I’ve learned that I may come across to others that I want to own the sidewalk, yet my true desire is for a random encounter...a chance to get to know someone in a spontaneous way. My goal for 2019? I will ALSO try to respect people’s space. Who’s with me?
#getreal #blog #yoga #iyengar #randomencounters