I remember the smirk on people’s faces when I told them I was getting into Yoga about five years ago. I once suggested it to a friend to help with his back issues and was laughed at. “What’s funny?” I asked him. “Yoga is for girls,” was his answer.
The thing about Yoga is that the practice teaches you to be calm and therefore, you don’t see a lot of yogi’s grabbing people by the shoulders and screaming “Who cares if people think Yoga is for girls. If it works, then it works!”
I spent ten years playing sports from Elementary school through Highschool, and I always avoided stretching. It was hard, tedious, and that’s the point.
That’s the inevitable point that yoga practice brings us all to. It’s difficult. And in those strenuous positions, you get to connect with the only thing that can make things better: yourself.
The first five yoga sessions I took was challenging because I would hold my breath under challenging poses. That’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do.
You’ll notice that in any Yoga session, the instructor will emphasize the breath. I once heard a saying that meditation is breath and stillness while yoga is breath and movement.
As you move, you follow along with the breath and allow the breath to bring you to a place that’s present. That place may be a limb that you’re stretching, or it may be a thought or an emotion that’s running through your mind.
Either way, it’s tension and the strain is brought to the forefront when you’re moving your body while following your breath.
Yoga places you in positions that you could go avoided for the rest of your life. It manipulates the spine in a way that increases flexibility and durability by strengthening the muscles that surround it.
Yoga forces you to breathe into the tight spots of a position and forces you to sit with what is rather than wander into a place where you'd rather be.
Yoga reaches parts of your body that you forgot about because they’ve gone neglected by non-movement for years at a time.
During my first Yoga session, the instructor told us that it was a “judgment-free” zone.
I’m so glad that she mentioned this because if it hadn’t been for that comment, I would have thought the whole room was judging me due to my stiffness and coordination.
Every time I found myself in an awkward position, I would just remind myself that nobody is judging me. I would just bring myself back to my breath and focus on myself, right there at that moment.
Obviously, this has benefits off the mat as well. When difficult times present themselves to you, how do you react? Do you feel as if everyone else is out to get you? Or do you turn inward and breath through the tension?
2) Being Better at Being Human
Dom mentioned that as a human, he wants to get better at being one. That can mean a lot of different things, but narrow down on being stronger both mentally and physically.
Dom has been an inspiration to me, in that he’s always learning new information that's challenging and difficult to grasp. Along with his growing intellect, he’s been optimizing himself physically as well.
We need more of that. We need more smart and strong dudes (or gals). Why not? If you can be well rounded and sharp in all areas of being a human, why wouldn’t you pursue it?
When you think of success, that term has many definitions. But can one honestly be successful if they have a lot of money, but compromised physically? Can one truly be successful if they have “one-punch” knockout power but not a clue how to add value to a business?
We all have our strengths and the ability to specialize in select areas, but overcompensating in one area over another is never a good thing.
It’s like the movies playing out in real life where the jock doesn’t study, and the nerd doesn’t exercise. That used to be the stigma but has now shifted in the other direction. If you’re honestly a brilliant mind, it’s inevitable that you’ll realize how vital exercise is. If you're in great physical condition and genuinely looking to grow, you’ll also understand how important it is to push yourself mentally.
The mind and body are aspects that create one unit; the human being. So to optimize yourself as a human being, you must focus on improving both aspects.
Control feels good because it also feels comfortable. When you deal with things like fear and anxiety, you can almost always trace its roots back to control, or lack thereof.
Dom mentioned how control over his physical body is a representation of how that control can translate into life.
If something happens, he can physically move out of the way, or push/carry someone out of the way if need be.
Dom also talked about the importance of understanding when you don't have control over a situation, you always can control how you respond.
That’s where our control lives. It doesn’t happen by the situation itself or the things in our external world, control lives within us and how we take the next steps moving forward.
This understanding frees the mind to allocate energy and resources towards efficiently responding instead of reacting negatively to anything difficult that comes your way.
The issue isn’t the issue itself but how you respond to it is.
4) Falsifiable Arguments
One of the topics Dom wanted to touch on was the subject of Falsifiable arguments. These are undeniable and indisputable arguments that only grow stronger with any evidence that supports their claim.
Dom has decided to no longer engage in falsifiable arguments, and I’m right behind him. In fact, I’m to the point of not arguing in any shape, form, or fashion because it’s pointless.
A debate should be a discussion, not a competition. So many times in my life I’ve found myself arguing over something that I wanted to be right, rather than working with another person or group towards a better understanding of the truth.
When we want to be right more than we want to find what is right, we allow the ego to take precedence over truth.
The bible talks about how the truth will set you free, and Buddhism talks about the true self. Both of these ideas are admirable because it leads to a better understanding of oneself. Having a better understanding of oneself means that our perception of reality is closely aligned with external reality and once aligned, we're placed in a better position to navigate the world accurately.
The truth is essential because it allows us to know where we stand. If we let our pride get in the way of seeking the truth, it's a big deal because it leaves us with a lot less than if you genuinely cared about finding what's real.
Dom and I have spent hours discussing technology and the potential for mass technological disruption. His view is a little more gloomy than mine, but at the same time, he carries much more confidence heading into the future.
I think one of the most significant differences in views we hold is that technology will adapt faster to the point where the technology can be a substitute for organic matter.
Take for instance the idea of sugar, refined grains, and processed foods. Our bodies are organic, and they didn’t evolve to have as much of the types of ingredients mentioned above.
Dom believes that in time technology will allow us to surpass the organic demands of our bodies (whole foods with earth grown nutrients) and give us the ability to live optimally off of “food” that isn’t real food.
If humans are around long enough, this may be inevitable, and I’m not the one to usually say this, but I don’t think that this will happen in our lifetime.
I’m too uninformed to have an educated guess at these developments, and I must admit that there’s a little piece of me that’s holding on to the idea that human biology will remain dictated by evolution.
But if a man who comes from nature produces something else, doesn’t that by default make the product natural? We often separate ourselves and the things we make by calling them man-made vs. natural, but at some level, they fall under the same scope of existence in our universe.
What’s the difference between your house and a birdhouse? A lot when you look at the sophistication and technicalities. But both your home and the birdhouse are at some level built from materials that came from the environment accessible to each and all of those materials can trace their origin back to nature.
The point is that yes technology may be adapting faster, but its adaptation will never supersede nature because technology itself is at some level nature.