Saturday, January 31, 2015

Yogi Gumby

Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me, as long as you love me, it's alright. Bend me, shape me, anyway you want me. You've got the power to turn on the light! -The American Breed, 1968

Groovy, baby! Let's talk about grooves: you know, like the grooves in a record, inset patterns and ruts. Yogis, you guessed it: samskaras! Oh yes, we yoga people love to talk about getting to the root of our samskaras (mental and physical patterns and habits).

Sometimes the way we groove can get us bent all out of shape, like Gumby on a really bad day.

Yogis have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves to bend and shape themselves into a more peaceful, balanced state. One of them deals with moving to a new groove: pratipaksha bhavana. Roughly, this term means "opposite thoughts." It's kind of like changing the radio station. Here, I'll throw you a freakin' bone, people: Patanjali uses the word twice in the Yoga Sutra. One sutra [2.33] says, “Vitarkabadhane pratipaksha bhavanam.” That’s a very simple sentence. It means that when we have afflicted thinking, then “Pratipaksha bhavanam”: Contemplate and take another view—look at the situation from another perspective. In another sutra [2.34] Patanjali says if you have negative thinking that comes from anger, greed, or delusion, whether you’re actively in it or just thinking about it, the fruit will be unending suffering and ignorance. Therefore, “Pratipaksha bhavanam”: Take another view, reframe your perspective on the situation. (Borrowed from a discussion on, from March 24, 2011, author not identified).

So when Gumby gets bent out of shape, he's got one thing to be really thankful for: he's a plastic dude, plasticity is his middle name. He can be bent and reshaped, just that like that! He can reframe his perspective on the situation, with a little help from his friends (who have hands).

We humans have hands (and feet, and eyes and ears), and brains! We have brains. And guess what? We're plastic, too! Just like Gumby. Well, not exactly. While we may not be plastic we have something amazing in our brains and tissues, called: PLASTICITY! Hoooooo-ray.

What it is, homeys:

Plasticity in the body: the ability of a bodily tissue to have its shape molded or altered, and then retain that new shape (sort of like bubble-gum, or play dough).
            Some cells can do this, some tissues can do this. We heal. 

And it gets better:

Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking, emotions, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.

Some of your bodily tissues, along with the grooves and patterns rocking out in your brain, can be shaped, and reshaped, and shaped again, and YOU, yes you, can move to a new groove. You've got the power to turn on the light!

So get up, get grooving, move to a new beat, believe that you CAN become aware of negative, defeating patterns. You can move and shake and bend and shape yourself into who you want to be, baby.

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