The thoughts in this blog are an extension of reflections I had within a course I am taking at school right now. It focuses on ‘development within the present neoliberal context, a capitalist world order’…
…Interpretation: we live within an ideology, a daily paradigm that is obsessed with progress.
Development and progress are close relatives.
Within the Oxford Dictionary, progress is defined as follows:
Pronunciation: /ˈprəʊgrɛs/ [mass noun]
1. forward or onward movement towards a destination
2. development towards an improved or more advanced condition
It may be relevant to note that development is within the natural cycle of evolution, however, is only accounted for if an entire population of species changes and shifts it’s properties as a collective. Development of an individual is not considered evolution. However, personal development, development of an individual, often requires some conscious effort – it may include personal growth through a number of different processes such as improving self-awareness, building upon self-knowledge, developing strengths and talents, spiritual development etc…
So when development of an individual is taking place…how does it impact the collective?
And…what does this have to do with progress?
Progress could be associated with major themes such as social, scientific, technological, or philosophical progress…and it can also tumble into a ‘progress trap’: the condition societies find themselves in when human ingenuity, in pursuing progress, inadvertently introduces problems that it does not have the resources to solve, preventing further progress or inciting social collapse. AND…we may be finding ourselves spinning the wheels within a progress trap…(sorry for the downer).
Stick with me on this next story –
So I was immersed in my yoga practice, striving to embody flow and breath, in mid sun salutation, standing forward bend…when all of a sudden my inner critic spoke up! (7:15am…an early morning for the critic!)
So what about all this talk progress?
How is it showing up in my practice?
When I live within a massive over arching system that is captivated with the magic of progress (often interpreted as accumulation of monetary wealth, getting fitter, getting prettier, better clothes…more clothes, big house…bigger house…etc) – how does that impact my, your, practice? How does the engine of progress creep into many of our practices?
(to say the least…I was a bit distracted by the critic for a good portion of this practice!)
Do I practice with vigor or softness? What are my intentions and…the intentions beneath those? How do intentions carry one through a practice?
(This is where the yama’s and niyama’s may provide some insight for the foundation of asana)
I raise these questions because the silent hum of progress is often beneath the subconscious mind and I recognize how easily the magic pill of wanting progress…not the kind that comes through subtle life…but the progress that happens NOW!
With anything that is practiced, there will be growth and development, movement forward, progress! However, the exploration is – how to stay in the moment and trust the opening that will become available instead of feeding the engine that pushes to be better, faster, now?
And finally, if we are so focused on the progress of the individual within our practice, what happens to evolution?…the development of the collective – how is our progress contributing to that? What does yoga for our present day political, economic, environmental, social contexts look like?
Essential to our nature is our integral and intimate connection to everything else – so what does a cultural revolution of the heart look like in the name of progress?