Proust had his madeleine, what about you?

In San Francisco last month, I had a mini reunion with a couple of old writing-group friends. Over dinner, the conversation turned to travel and hometowns and memories of “place.” Doug, who grew up in Los Angeles when it was full of orchards, said, “What I remember about LA is the smell of orange and lemon blossoms. And hillsides covered with wild fennel.” A moment later, he said, “You know the smell of Coppertone? Late in the day, hours after you’d gone to the beach, you could still catch the scent of Coppertone and feel the heat of the sun … Continue reading Proust had his madeleine, what about you?

The pleasure principle

What I thought was happiness was only part time bliss. “The Pleasure Principle,” Control (1986), Janet Jackson In my prior post “Sense, Sensuality, and Sensibility,” I questioned the idea of labeling any peak experience as “yoga” or “yogic.” In turn, some questioned me: Who am I to judge others’ inner lives while eating oysters or bungee jumping? Certainly, experience is subjective. Here’s my concern: Yoga is being defined as a big high. As pleasure, thrill, passion, bliss. As climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, winning a race, falling in love, or smelling freshly baked bread. Why define yoga only in conventionally defined positive … Continue reading The pleasure principle

Sense, Sensuality, and Sensibility

In the New York Times article “When Chocolate and Chakras Collide” (January 26, 2010), yoga practitioners debate the yogic diet: Should yogis eat meat? Drink alcohol? Indulge in sweets and spices, onions and garlic? Traditionalists hold that ahimsa requires vegetarianism, and that one must avoid strong flavors, caffeine, and alcohol, which overwhelm the senses. Revisionists argue that the hardline approach is unnecessary, if one’s attitude is appropriate. Both views make sense. It seems incongruous that a yogi be pleasure-seeking; yet, sticking to the rules doesn’t guarantee saintliness. My two cents: CONSCIOUS EATING In the article, a group gathered for “vigorous, … Continue reading Sense, Sensuality, and Sensibility