Sunday, August 30, 2009

"The data is always innocent."

Yawn!  I stayed up til 2am with my sister last night watching this freaking AMAZING TV series called "Being Human" that we DVR-ed from BBC America.  There are only 6 episodes of it so far and it ROCKS.  It's a supernatural drama/comedy show about these three roommates who are a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost, and it might be an idea that's been done a million times, but they do it SO well.  It had us laughing hysterically and screaming in horror in basically the same breath.  This has absolutely nothing to do with my "yoga post" today... I just wanted to pass on the recommendation.  If any of you guys are into the slew of vampire stuff that's out right now (so trendy ugh), or if you liked Buffy back in the day (so good), you will adore this show.

Meandering back onto topic now... I finished off my grad school "work week" last Friday with a meeting with JS, my research supervisor.  JS really leads my research group because the professors are very busy and important and not so "hands on" with the students.  So he reports to them, and I report to him.  And he is GREAT.  He's one of the reasons I'm still here.  He comes from industry in Korea and is slightly high-strung and hardcore about deadlines and results, but he still is SO easy to work with, he never gets mad when one of us screws something up, and he threw a big barbeque on the beach one day for all the students in the group when my advisor was out of town.  When he's giving me a lot of work to do, he spends half the meeting telling me ALL the stuff I need to get done and the other half of the meeting apologizing for it.

Anyway, that's JS.  I went to his office on Friday feeling totally bummed out, because I had worked all week (including a 2am lab session) to get a certain set of data, but the very first step of the process had not gone so well.  I had put in my "good faith" effort to get the data, but I was feeling pretty sure that the results would be useless.  So I told JS everything, and he said, "Actually I think you have succeeded.  I think we can use the data.  Don't be sad.  The data is always innocent."

Of course this made me feel better, and I was also totally struck by that sentence that he used: The data is always innocent.  So cute.  And so... true.  So useful.  In research, in yoga, in everything!  Data is data.  Information is information.  It's not good or bad.  It's "innocent."  It's our interpretations that make it good or bad, right?  Isn't that a line in Hamlet?  "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."  That could practically be a quote from the yoga sutras.  It's such a central idea.  I was so delighted to see it pop up in such an unexpected place.

I think that the bottom line here is that we can learn observation without judgement.  And I think I MUST have mentioned this here already at some point, but for me, that lesson was the single biggest change that I saw in myself when I started yoga.  I came into the practice so programmed to look at myself in a mirror and judge, oh, that was bad, that wasn't right, it should have been different, etc etc.  But for some reason, the way that the yoga class is set up - so safe, so objective - helped me to drop that.  I could look in the mirror and think, "oh, ok, I need to move my right hip forward, aha, that's better now" instead of thinking "my right hip's not far enough forward, OHmygod-I-totally-suck-at-this-I'm-so-embarrassed-I-fail-at-life."  Just observe.  See the data, listen to it, find out the next move.  No knee-jerk emotional response, no judgment.  (We misunderstand our world.)  I remember that I recognized this change very quickly and I recognized some - though not NEARLY all - of the implications.  This was what kept me coming back to the class.  I didn't give a SHIT about doing "pretty" postures.  I just wanted that mental clarity that came from seeing something as it was without constantly projecting onto it.  

And if my personality has changed or developed at all in the last few years - which my close friends and family tell me that is has - this is the root of it all.  Observation and innocence.


Mei said...

That is SO true. From my observation, some people come in [after doing other types of yoga] and they want to have...pretty postures. They want the head to touch the tops of the feet in pada-hastasana [foregoing the elbows behind calf muscle], they want to do standing splits in dandayama dhanurasana, etc etc. EVERYTHING! I admit I was guilty of that too [I wanted the standing splits so badly for over a year now, damnit], but just a few months ago I realised "Hmm, IF I got into standing splits, then what? What's next? Class won't be as fun and challenging anymore!". It's aaaaall in the deets baby!

And yes, I loved Buffy back in the day and have a thing for Bill Compton of True Blood and would die to have a 3some with Bill and Edward [of Twilight fame]. What's up with me and blood sucking vamps? LOL

thedancingj said...

We are ALWAYS online at the same time...!

You are so right on. And guess what - standing bow is STILL wicked hard when you can do the splits in it! Haha. Everybody is so interested in doing that... but I'm like... what do you think is gonna happen when you get there? The standing bow fairy comes along and gives you a prize?! There AIN'T no standing bow fairy!! It is still really hard to do!!

You have gotta try to get your hands on the six episodes of "Being Human"... you would LOVE it!!!

hannahjustbreathe said...

Seeing something as is, without projecting judgments, just may be the greatest lesson I've learned from yoga.

Well said, as always. :)

Mei said...

Heh woman, I'm ALWAYS online! :D

I had a deep talk with my fairy friends yesterday, and you're right. The Standing Bow Pulling Pose fairy doesn't exist. :(