Where does joy come from?

Once when I was in Sunday School the teacher told us that the difference between happiness and joy was that happiness depends on your circumstances but joy comes from God. I was not the only one in the class to question that analysis. It looked to me as just an example of a word game, namely changing the definition of a word to fit one’s own preconceptions. This also was right about that time that I decided that going to Sunday School was a total waste of my time.

But that does leave the question, what is joy, and where does it come from? Continue reading

Yoga and Skepticism

I’ve said in a previous post that there is some tension present in being an atheist and a yogi. I think it’s more to the point to say there is tension between being a skeptic and a yogi. While in general the teachers whose classes I frequent usually stick with pretty non-controversial claims about the benefits of yoga, every now and then I hear things that make me smirk and squirm a little inside. Stuff like this (not exact quotes):

  • We’re going to have a relaxed class today because it’s near the new moon. Our energy levels are lowest during the new moon.
  • Anything about chakras.
  • Anything about Kundalini.
  • Anything about Ayurveda.
  • Claims that any of the above must be real and good because it’s been practiced for 1000’s of years.

I’ve tolerated this stuff for the most part, and have even gone along with it for the sake of experimentation. I have found that, in general, these things have not been core to the classes. The chakra talk I can deal with as being symbolic for different areas and characteristics of the body. No problem. Same with Kundalini. The alternative medicine stuff does set me a bit on edge though. Especially when I read about things like this: http://whatstheharm.net/ayurvedicmedicine.html. Maybe I’ll ask my teacher about that. Were all these people just doing it wrong?

I’m into the holistic aspect of yoga, and this is why it’s been the only exercise program I’ve stuck with regularly going on two years now. I’m not in it “just for the workout,” it’s also about the mental and emotional benefit as well. I’m all for the non-rational–I don’t have to reason everything out and understand how everything works in order to accept it. What I can’t accept is the irrational.  What if some of these things being practiced as part of yoga can actually be harmful?

Belief and Reality

This has happened twice now, to my amazement and embarrassment.

I have woken up twice absolutely beyond a doubt that our little puppy was in the bed with me. In both cases I was a bit puzzled at how she got there, since every night she sleeps in her kennel, and she is as of yet not able to jump into the bed on her own. But I knew she was there. I felt her, and even once picked her up. I told Ed that she was in the bed, and he heard me and remembers this happening.

Only it was not our puppy that was there. The little furry body I felt was one of our kitty cats that does indeed like to curl up next to me at night. The time I picked her up I even remained convinced that it was the puppy until Ed corrected me and turned on the light and I had to admit that I’d been deluded.

It’s a further reminder of me of how vulnerable the human brain–my own in particular–is subject to delusion. And no matter how much you are convinced and know something is true, it doesn’t mean it is. Questioning your perceptions and getting confirmation from another person always helps in determining if your perceptions match reality.