3 Jul 2011

Envy and Freedom

Been reading, Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude by Neal Pollack. Has it ever made me chuckle, even out loud on the bus.

Of all the unproductive emotions in the world, none is worse for the soul, none more toxic to creative out put, than envy.

Hmm yeah, so true I thought as the bus sped through the mountains up here in sultry monsoon Yamagata. Have learnt to love this steamy weather.

Been hearing a lot of the same problems from a variety of people, wanting to be themselves, express themselves, live their lives in their way, worried about what others are thinking. Often others are envious. But you don't have to bear this burden. To be on the receiving end of envy is just as torturous as projecting it out there. Japan often strikes me as an envious country, in the petty day to day life. One expression, iina-, which means *I'm so envious* is a phrase that I wish were used less, particuluarly when whined or pouted out. It’s bandied around so flippantly, mindlessly said most of the time, but shows us the mindset.  Language and thought so intimately connected.  I swear my thinking has changed since I start speaking Japanese. That's for another post.

It's summer vacation time. In Japan it is not common for people to take holidays, especially longer then a week for those lucky ones who do. I'm not sure how much this is company policy, or those unwritten unspoken undercurrent rules Japan is so good at.

I just wish people could be people, do what you want, be nice, be kind, work hard and do your thang. Some are good at this, but get the guilts from relatives, co-workers. I know of people who go off secretly so as not to incur the envy of society, careful not to get too tanned, a dead giveaway. The pattern needs to be broken. I do believe everyone needs a vacation now and then, of over a week, two is perfect, to enjoy. Enjoy what ever it is that rocks your boat. Surely all people would like this, so why the jealousy, someone goes, you feel happy for them, knowing next it'll be you.
Here’s the catch 22 – don’t take that paid leave because you feel guilt, people are envious, perhaps because they want paid leave too, but won't go because people will be envious and they will feel guilty. So the cycle continues.A cycle of repression, a samsara, of a sorts, a birth of guilt and a death of freedom.

Freedom is important. Even without the vacation, that’s not really the point, is it? It's about an inner freedom. Bhagavadgita says it perfectly:

A yogi is one who performs his duties in society yet stays free inwardly.

Dropping back from standing into a back bend makes me feel free.

I’m working on them. Decided to add one a day and keep to the inhale exhale, no breaks or fiddling. Ha! Only made it to eight. Well, shall add one every day or so, nice and slow. Body is healing, things are coming back.  Can really feel it one my legs today.  Still needs a lot of work.  Need to relax my face, and neck more, and get those hips forward and stretched out.  Need to come up more through my legs, am relying on my back a bit too much.

Meditation also gives that space, that taste of freedom. I’ll always remember coming back from my first trip to India, shaven head and meditating in a park in my hometown, and feeling free, realizing it was a state of mind. Not bad for 22. Soon forgot in the daily toil. But to experience once is to make a path, to be able to return, hopefully more and more often.

May all beings be happy and free.  As Bruce Lee said: As you think....so shall  you become.

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