Resist Reductionism - Hold Space for complexity
Yoga aims to teach us awareness. To hold space, to lean into the discomfort, and through examination of our thoughts, emotions, and sensations, learn to see and act more peacefully and constructively.
In this newsletter, I am offering two books and my 200-hr training that can teach us skills to view humanity from a more constructive, kind, and spacious position; in other words, examine complex issues from first principles to allow for complexity to bring us into the discomfort of the unknown and to ask questions. Simply put, to teach us to resist reductionism.
The dictionary definition of reductionism is:
"the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level, especially when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation."
The problem with reductionism in our current world is that we reduce phenomena to be certain, to belong to a group, and to provide profit or power. But our concepts no longer represent the phenomena; we often simplify things so much that they lose meaning; they only serve to drive a cause. Every spiritualist and psychologist knows that the hardest thing to teach a human is to hold space for not knowing and to return love for hate. Our political institutions and social media know this very well; they use reductionist thinking to put us in groups against each other and keep us hooked listening because hearing about things we think we understand makes us feel powerful and certain.
Unfortunately, both the above statements,
1.) our feelings that the other is the enemy,
2.) our feeling of certainty
is an illusion.
We are flooded with quick, prefabricated ideas and sentences that now form our opinion and our identity.
The result of a reductionist society is that we no longer hold space for the curiosity of the other; we no longer pause and discuss complex problems because the discussion is uncomfortable. When we pause to examine topics deeply, we always discover an area where we may need to change our minds or an area where we need to seek more knowledge. But when we do this, we have to be OK with not being perfect and not being certain. This leads to the second weakness in our society that hurts working relationships, friendships, and family; that is, we avoid discomfort.
Being perfect and certain all the time is a lot of work; it takes a lot of energy to uphold this space, and this creates a harsh relationship with our inner self.
Not being perfect or certain can feel so scary that when we have conflicts or make a mistake, instead of apologizing, learning, and holding space with love for the relationship, we avoid, blame, run and make the other wrong, and cut the relationship. It is normal that we do this; this behavior has been modeled to us by our media for decades. But this avoidance, lack of communication, and reductional thinking created and sustained problems.
We must find a way back to each other; must seek the good in one another. Our broken world simply reflects our inner brokenness, and we will not be able to heal our environment, mental health, and society if we keep living our lives in categories of absolute right and absolute wrong.
as Jianzhi Sengcan, Buddist Zen Teacher, wrote back in 500s
If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
The struggle between 'for' and 'against' is the mind's worst disease;”
So on that note, :-) let's step into some great books and possibly enroll in a 9-months long journey to breathe and think spaciously.
Warm, funny, political, deeply tragic, and so very human
From one of Ukraine's most brilliant modern novelist
Easily the best novel I read all year. This book came recommended by my mom, and since then, it has been handed down through our family, with urgent pressure to finish so others can read it as well. :-)
After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, a grey zone has developed in Eastern Ukraine where constant war is fought between separatist forces seeking to be independent of Ukraine and Loyalists. Yes, this war has been going on since 2014. The novel focuses on a little village where everybody has left; houses are empty except for two middle-aged men, one Russian and one Ukrainian, who become inseparable friends while hurling insults at one another, always with a bit of a smile. Read it and find the amazing complexity that humans bridge through a crisis that aims to reduce us to nothing but labels of our nationality.
Two scientists explain why it is important to resist reductionism and avoid the trap of hyper-novelty
The modern world is out of sync with our ancient brains and bodies. We evolved to live in clans, eat fresh food, move, dance, and tell myths by the fire, but today most people don't even know their neighbors' names.
In this book, Heying and Weinstein cut through the reductionist polarizing discourse surrounding our medical system, diet, parenting, sleep, education, and more to outline a science-based worldview that will empower you to live a better, wiser life. They distill more than 20 years of research and guide us away from reductionist thinking, they confront our culture of hyper-novelty and force us to examine complex systems while we hold space to be OK with not knowing, but searching for the truth!
Ready to find out more about how our brain works and how we can live better together by thinking differently?
Mindfulness and Yoga Journey
Starts October 7th
Find a kinder relationship with yourself. Live your yoga for nine months, read beautiful literature, practice yoga, and learn how to teach. Join a small group of students from all walks of life and examine yoga from the point of view of philosophy, lifestyle, and mindfulness. Learn to manage the stress of every day by stepping back and looking from a different perspective.
Sign up for 200 hour of Mindfulness and Yoga Training - Looking forward to getting to know you through the journey