When the doorbell rings, our dog Bug goes crazy. He barks like mad because he knows there is a stranger on the other side of the door. He is defending his territory. When the television is on and a doorbell rings onscreen, he has exactly the same reaction. He rushes to the front door and barks, even as we reassure him that the doorbell wasn't real. He doesn't have the ability to separate reality from the false reality of the television.
The scary part is: we have the ability to engage with "false" reality.
Actually, we can hold countless "realities" in our minds at any given time. The trouble is that only one is actually real. All the others are false, and we spend a lot of time with our minds immersed in these false realities.
Watching television and movies is the ultimate expression of this. We spend hours at a time engaging our minds in completely fabricated realms designed to trick us into mental and emotional responses. Every moment we spend in these realms is a moment that we are detaching our mind from reality. It becomes harder and harder for the mind to recognize, much less function effectively in, true reality.
All of yoga philosophy is based on the idea that we exist in a state of illusion rather than reality. The things we see, hear, touch and think are constructions of our mind. They are not reality. The practices of yoga lead us to strip away the illusion a little bit at a time, gradually revealing the true nature of reality and the self within it.
Television does exactly the opposite of yoga practice. It creates false realities for our minds to engage in, and the better the program is, the more we involve ourselves and identify with the characters and situations. So, the better the show or movie is, the worse it is for your yoga practice!
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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