I’m working at home today. I consider this a huge privilege. It’s a sign of trust from my boss and a vote of confidence from me in my team who are slogging it out in an open plan office while I’m tucked up at home. Although we’re all working for the same overall ends on the same range of projects, there’s a good spatial buffer between me and the office environment.
Nonetheless I’m connected pretty closely with my colleagues by the power of email without which nothing in my professional life would get done (though I’m resisting the corporate move to instant messaging — the horror!!!). But in this sense ‘connected’ is just a fancy way of saying that we can and do communicate. They might well feel quite distant from me, despite my cheery morning message to them and a few work questions bouncing around by email between us.
Yogis seems to use ‘connected’ to mean much more than communication between people, though I think they do mean connection with people in the sense of satsang (a collection of people with common values, engaged in a shared practice, offering mutual support — the yogi equivalent of colleagues??). But I think there’s more to it than that. My teacher often talks about connection with the earth in asana (creating a stability through our feet), and then by extension perhaps also in our ethical behaviours and morality. The yogic use of ‘connection’ implies bringing some consciousness to our minds and bodies, tuning into our innate values and the expression of them in our asana and in our larger lives, and probably for some yogis also there’s a range of meaning close to ‘communion’ implying some spiritual relationship.
I love words and I love playing with expressions, exploring metaphorical and literal meanings. And yoga seems a fertile area for this. I guess partly because we’re exploring concepts that are originally from a different culture, expressed in a different language. There’s a high level of translation required. But also because some of the experiences of yoga, as a state and as a practice, are indescribable and inexplicable. ‘Ineffable’ is a rather elevated word in everyday conversation, but that’s what it is. So we resort to metaphors and shorthands, and we all start to share a common terminology. But because it’s not literal, there’s scope for various understandings, or misunderstandings…
Do I love or hate this multivalency? Both, of course! I love that I can explore the semantics for myself and start to understand what such metaphors mean to me through my own embodied experiences. But I hate the sloppiness and laziness that I think these metaphors can engender. The good old yoga cliché. I like to think that if I stopped anyone mid-sentence and asked them what they meant by ‘centring’, ‘feeling connected’, ‘letting go’, ‘being present’ and so on they could give me some reasonable attempt at explaining the metaphor as they intended it. I hope so. But I fear that we drift comfortably into shared vocabulary because it’s easy and safe-feeling, and in itself offers a sense of connectivity, concealing differences through homogeneous expression.
Or am I missing the point (asmita rules!) in revelling in unique experience? Maybe I should be less intellect-bound and allow myself to roll into ‘universal consciousness’. To quote metaphors I’ve heard recently from two different teachers: being the snow not the snowflake or the ocean not the wave.
Don’t ask me to try to explain those! Sometimes I think I might be getting it. Other days it’s all beyond my grasp.
So stop grasping, babycrow! When in doubt, roll out the mat. Let the uncertainties and questions ebb away.
And then I’ll get back to my emails…
image source: http://www.chrisoulasirigou.com.