Recently an average “philosophy” teacher in the yoga community posted something that was deeply offensive to women and well, to anyone who might be interested in truth and historical facts. It received thousands of comments, circulated endlessly through many communities and was posted, reposted, and posted again—often by those who were most (understandably) upset by it.
Since the beginning of time we have craved drama and now is no different, it only feels more obvious. You can have a stream of loving, positive, encouraging, engaging, artful offerings and yet, what gets our attention—what we give our life force to—is the drama. BOOM! Blood pumping, autonomic nervous system kicks in, breath shortens, heart rate increases. The impulse to engage with this punch is built into our evolutionary process and yet, as humans we have the capacity to choose to engage or not. What we seem to choose again and again is the drama
Take this last election cycle, for instance. We had someone up there attempting to engage us in real dialogue about real issues with thirty years of policymaking experience and subtle and complex responses to critical concerns. We chose to give our attention to the one screaming loudest and with the most insane stream of words. POW! The sympathetic nervous system is spiked, strong imprints are triggered or new ones made as we go about chasing this jolt. It’s like a double espresso shot, right there in our own bodies. The mind goes bananas and the ability to take responsibility disappears, because we can look out at this big performance and take all our attention off the subtle discomfort of being in a human form.
Let’s say you get up and perform something; you’re vulnerable and you step off stage and get an endless stream of accolodes and encouragement. Then, one or a handful of folks throw shade and express disapproval. What does your mind/body remember? Those. Yes, the negative responses prompt a chain reaction in our nervous system that we keep replaying.
We’re engaged in the world. Maybe we follow social media or the news or both and the world presents us with so much more information than the human body/mind/spirit has evolved to absorb. There is much stuff visual and auditory data pouring in, and it is imperative we learn to discern what gets our attention. How do we sift through all this information and retrain ourselves to observe the drama (currently playing out daily in our highest office of government) without chasing it? They say that fear sticks like Velcro and positive slides off like Teflon; so it becomes our work to bring more attention to the positive, to linger on it and feel it move into our cells. We have the opportunity and the means to rebuild our neuropathways. We can, indeed drink more from nourishment and less from drama.
Does this mean that we should look away from these types of theater? Not necessarily—the world needs caring and informed people to observe and act. But to sustain our energy and stay on course, we need to hone the discerning machine inside, so that each of us can decide what to “eat” and what is poison and can be put down. My completely uneducated theory is that if we’d had enough people turn down the drama of D.T. and turn up their own responsibility in what gets covered in the media (since they feed us more of what we’re already engaging with), then, well, then…anything but this current drama machine.
We can each, individually, learn to pay closer attention to the details and what is nourishment, and collectively, that will send a message about what we want to know and where we want to act.
So we revisit … someone posts a “shocker” and it gets your attention and energy and it flings around the globe while another someone sits there day in and day out and does the tough work of staying awake to the best of their ability, and almost no one notices. Part of the work is staying awake and noticing the simple gift of attention and steady effort.
We can decide, right now, what to give our life force to, where we direct this precious resource of our prana. Though it’s possible you’re not reading this as there is no shock value…if you’re still here; OM OM OM Tat Sat (thou art that).