Self-actualization

"Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity -- I mean the simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered mind and character, not that other simplicity which is only a euphemism for folly." -- Plato

A conversation with an empty nester who just helped her two daughters moved to Ann Arbor for college led to a reflection on authenticity and personal style. She told me there are more yoga studios in Ann Arbor than the Bay Area and there are many types of hybrid yoga classes there. Another mom chimed in. She had tried some of those classes--spinning & yoga, pilates & yoga, free weight & yoga, etc. She found none worked for her. She offered that the exercises are more effective when practiced separately. Both of them like straight yoga classes. I'm glad they find my offering somewhat classical. I love that there are so many types of yoga classes. In fact, I teach at least four different types. Yet, no great things come out of passing trends, fads, or cliches. In fashion as in a personal life and style, following trends make us trendy but it doesn't make us the designers of our lifestyles nor trendsetters. We don't need to reinvent the wheels to be a leader or trendsetter in our field. Designers are constantly revisiting old styles and spinning them in their personal and relevant ways. Ultimately there is only one field existed. It's the field of perception. If we only perceive ourselves through others we end up living for their approval. If we see into and from the depth of ourselves we can express the spirit which inspires our authentic expressions.

According to the Wikipedia "self-actualization is a term that has been used in various psychology theories, often in slightly different ways. Expressing one's creativity, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to and/or positively transform society are examples of self-actualization." The organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein who originally introduced the term stated "the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive... the drive of self-actualization." At the temple where my dad was cremated I noticed that the monks were quite artistic as they were busily working on various temple projects. In a country like Thailand where there are a few super rich and a massive poverty being a monk can be economically and socially satisfying. Unlike the Buddha, most of the young monks at the temple come from poor families. In the patriarchal society they are vulnerable to social pressure to succeed by being the head of a household. It is better to be a happy monk than a miserable householder. The kind of spirituality the middle-class and the well-to-do such as myself dream of -- doing yoga all day and meditating all night is no more virtuous than the daily grind most of us need to do to physically survive and emotionally thrive. We all need the quiet space to get in touch with the beauty and joy of life which motivate us to keep on living. The question is "what is the best way one can make a living in order to maintain the body, express the soul's wisdom, and grow the intellect?" This is the calling of life.

The longer I teach the more I simplify the teaching style to reflect the clarity and comprehensibility of my intellect and character. Taking sometime away from the busy media speculations of all kinds is a key to my success as a yoga teacher. In addition, I purposely don't attend other yoga classes not because I don't want to learn from others but because I have attended so many classes and various teachers in the past that I need this time to integrate and establish in order to teach my personal style. I humbly acknowledge my capacity to be influenced by the trendsetters of yoga teaching, and am doing my best to find the balance between ingesting outside information and digesting and manifesting inward wisdom. Societal images of success on social media, entertainment media, and news media are filled with advertisements of objects--beautiful faces and bodies and other material possessions. We're constantly being enticed to spend time, energy, and resources to acquire more things to make ourselves healthier, more beautiful, better respected, and more loved. Yet, none of these states can be achieved solely through successfully obtaining stuff. Style and elegance are intrinsic. It's no use trying to monetize our talents when we have no intrinsic direction as to how we can best simultaneously express and grow the gifts. Being highly vigilant of the outside influences is crucial to self-actualization. The style of this blog, I hope, is different from how the mass media tries to achieve--more objects--friends, followers, stuff. In everything that I say and do I make an effort against the social condition to focus on subjective perceptions and minimize the objectification of human experiences. I hope that by intentionally offering the space for inward reflection for you and me we can help each other connect, feel, and actually be ourselves.