Saturday, February 19, 2011

Silicone Bitch: Yoga and Social Media

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too.

Earlier this week some friends and I met up for drinks after a networker in Coral Gables and somehow the conversation segued to something that has been on my mind for a long time -- the similarities between the philosophy of yoga and what us social media types are doing today.

But before I get into that, let me just plead, absolutely and utterly beg you to stop doing something that has annoyed me since day one...
Dear social media world, please cease from using the word guru immediately!

Yes, yes I know that language is a malleable and flexible creature and that English adopts words from other cultures for its own use, but pay attention to the original Sanskrit meaning:

Gu denotes darkness and ignorance
Ru denotes enlightment

In other words, a guru a bringer of light, a dispeler of darkness, a spiritual guide who leads you not on someone else's path but into your own heart and the God self within you, to discover the light within yourself.

So tell me, what the hell does a social media preacher have to do with that?


Stop it.

Nobody "owns" or is an "expert" in a field that is fledgling. Whenever I teach a workshop or give a lecture, I am up front and completely transparent with my students: I am simply sharing my best practices with you, what has and hasn't worked for me, but we are all students in this. I just may be a little ahead of the ball game, that's all. And you know what? Sometimes I learn from you. Teaching and learning are really the same thing. The true teacher knows this. The true guru is the humblest person on the planet. The true guru knows that the student is his or her own guru.

Bottom line: no one in social media is a guru. Please respect the original meaning of the term or I'm going to think you're an idiot.


Nonetheless, there is an interesting way of looking at social media through a yogic lens.

In a nutshell: the over 5,000 year-old philosophy of yoga originating in India seeks to unify mind, body and soul within the individual and on a broader scale, to bring together all living things with a sense of interconnectedness.

The word yoga itself denotes "yoking" of all the physical and spiritual elements that make our human journeys a worthwhile experience. When you practice yoga, you seek to bring every fiber of your physical and spiritual being into perspective and balance. And once you get comfortable with that, you give the love and peace within yourself as a gift to the world. It becomes an expression in your personal and business relationships. This is the real meaning of tantra, by the way. Ultimately, it has nothing do with sex.

You do not have to change your name to Sanskrit, shave your head, wear birkenstocks, eat organic vegetables and devote yourself to charity to be a yogi. You do not have to be a Ghandi or Mother Teresa. Each and everyone of us, no matter what we do, can tap into this with each and every little gesture in our mundane lives.

What does this have to do with social media? Well, quite simply, the ancient yogis had it all figured out that we were connected on some level, even before there was modern technology. What we are doing today is part of a great evolution. Our current technology simply facilitates the process.

Social media and technology are wrapped up in what yogis call energy. We are all energy. Even the machines we use to explore that energy are part of the process.

I encourage you to think of this on an atomic level. Even your computer, as well as the cables and wires that make up the interwebz, are organic objects; after all, they too consist of atomic particles, the building blocks of life. They don't call it "silicon" for nothing: it's an actual metalloid with its own atomic number and a conductor of energy.

The internet is a conveyor of our spiritual intentions, for better or worse. Social media has enabled connectivity in ways that the yogis of yore would never have dreamed of ... or perhaps they did and foresaw it. How is it possible that I can connect with someone through wires and microchips? Well, it's not about the wires and microchips. It's about the wires and microchips conveying my energy to you.

When you close a yoga class with your hands in prayer position at your chest on front of your heart chakra, you say namaste. This Sanskrit word means "the light in me honors the light in you." In some ways, those of us using social media for establishing positive, organic connections are doing the same. We make things happen. We bring people together. We use the tools at hand as an extension of our spiritual goal to manifest the inter-relatedness of all things.

Remember: yoga is not about standing on your head or sitting like a pretzel. Hatha yoga -- the art and science of physical poses -- is simply a means to an end. The real yoga comes when you practice compassion with a sense of complete connection to all beings around you. It is a joyful expression of your soul and wonders never cease. You may not be perfect in the process, but your intention is golden. If you are doing social media this way, you are doing it akin to the yogic path.

I'm not saying yoga is social media, not at all: yoga is an art and science that requires its own specific discipline and training. But what I do see is a beautiful analogy between an ancient philosophy and a very advanced technology that most of us take for granted. Every time you use Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and all the other networking properties, you are part of a larger evolution.

Think about it: the endless flurry of messages on Twitter is evidence of everyone's yogic path: I am here. I am alive. I have something to say. I am doing something. Let me share that with you. Let me do something with you. Let me listen to you. Let me play with you. Let me laugh with you. Thank YOU for letting me into your world and for connecting.

Yoga is not about ego. Yoga is about there no longer being a "me" or a "you" but an "us" on a global scale. That's where the love comes in and the social networks absolutely, one-hundred percent facilitate this way of life, this way of seeing the world. Yet another reason why no one should ever call themselves a social media guru -- it is not about your ego. If you're doing social media like a yogi, it is never ultimately about ME but about the connection between US.

Stop and smell the roses. See the bigger picture in what you are doing and have accomplished through social media. Be mindful about it; look at it as a yogi would.

As a former yoga instructor who stopped doing poses a few years ago, I recently realized that I have been practicing in my own way all this time. Social media changed my life for the better and continues to keep me on my path.


I hope my example can bring a fresh perspective to others. If you ever sign up for a workshop that promises to teach you social media, remember that you already know it because you are already a social human being with potential to expand your soul in a yogic way. The only thing those "gurus" out there should really teach you are rote skills, like driving a car. If you really want to know social media, then be a student of human relationships. Putting together a fabulous Facebook Fan Page means nothing if you don't have the right energy and sense of connectivity.

IMAGE CREDIT: Adria.Richards via Flickr


Stacy said...

This post is fantastic and oh so quotable. Your site is truly adorable.

The Faustian Man said...

I could not agree more. I hate can we also get rid of "problem solvers" as well, while we are at it?

Michelle said...

Totally interesting comparison; it was eye-opening. :)