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Mindfulness & The Battle to Claim Yoga: The Irony of the “Warrior Poses” November 28, 2010

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Law, Ethics & Society, Mindfulness, Religion, Yoga.
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Yoga’s exploding popularity as form of physical exercise and a meditative method for achieving greater life balance has ironically caused some of its participants to wage a verbal war over yoga’s origins.  The Hindu American Foundation initiated a “Take Back Yoga” campaign to increase awareness of yoga’s Hindu roots.  “In a way,” said Dr. Aseem Shukla, the foundation’s co-founder, “our issue is that yoga has thrived, but Hinduism has lost control of the brand.”

The campaign has gone viral and caused reaction (or perhaps in mindfulness terms, reactivity) throughout the yoga community at all levels.  In fact the New York Times reports that: “Dr. Deepak Chopra, the New Age writer, has dismissed the campaign as a jumble of faulty history and Hindu nationalism. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said he agrees that yoga is Hindu — and cited that as evidence that the practice imperiled the souls of Christians who engage in it.”

And… In June, the Indian government began digitizing ancient drawings that depict more than 4000 yoga poses, purportedly to discourage further yoga copyrights like Bikram Choudhury’s 2007 copyright for the 26 poses now known as Bikram yoga.

Wow, what happened to the concept of a collective consciousness and a mutual striving to eliminate suffering?  Perhaps America, as the land of entrepreneurial opportunity, happened to yoga.  Or perhaps the ongoing struggle within our melting pot to achieve a balance of the yearning for cultural respect and individuality alongside the inevitable assimilation and blending of various aspects of diverse cultures is at the root of the ‘Take Back Yoga” campaign.  Maybe the campaign would never have caused such a stir without the internet to serve as an available battleground.

Whatever the sociological and psychological underpinnings may be, hopefully the participants will soon pause, return to focus on the breath and transition from the warrior pose to engage in a restorative yoga experience.  Yoga is a gift, whatever its ancient origins may be, and living in the present moment may assist in alleviating suffering for all involved.


Politics vs Humanity? Health Care and Fundamental Rights November 26, 2010

Posted by legalethicsemporium in Health care, Law, Ethics & Society, U.S. Constitution.
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Interesting juxtaposition in the New York Times online afternoon update today…The update  contains an article described as Administration Is Bracing for Setbacks to Health Law, which adeptly describes the democratic forces at play as the constitutionality of requiring everyone to obtain health insurance under the Obama health care plan is being challenged in the courts by various opponents including state attorney generals and members of Congress. All parties seem to agree that regardless of what any specific judge decides at the district level, the issue will ultimately wind its way up to the Supreme Court. There is also debate as to the repercussions of a finding of unconstitutionally of that section of the bill. Would that doom the whole bill?  That’s not clear in the language of the bill. So, essentially we have a program proposed by the Executive Branch, passed by the Legislative Branch, now being challenged in the Judicial Branch by various parties that include representatives of the states. Great–Democracy in action, civics 101–this provision is not scheduled to go into effect for three years anyway. All is good….Or is it?

Scroll down on the New York Times list and one is  reminded that the underlying issue in this democratic “exercise” is the fundamental right to health care. What on this list  jars the memory? A video report entitled South Korea’s War on Dementia. Seems that the government there has realized that within 15 years, 20% of the population will be over 65 and despite the tradition of families caring for their own elderly, there will be an imbalance in the ratio of caretakers to those in need of care. So, the government has launched a war on dementia and is on a mission to increase awareness, build nursing homes and provide health care training to its society, including the youth.

It is a compelling piece and one that brought to mind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 as the world was still reeling from the inhumanity of the Holocaust and World War II. This document is still embraced by the United Nations as a reflection of rights to which all human beings are entitled. Article 25 states: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 25–laudatory goal or fundamental human right? Seems that given the fact that it was authored over 60 years ago, it remains both.  The juxtaposing of South Korea’s war on dementia with the ongoing battles in the United States over the health care system does not provide the ultimate answer as to how all people may obtain health care nor does it define society’s role in solving the dilemma.  However, it does highlight the underlying issue of humanity involved when one lives in a society in which socio-economic status may determine whether someone who is ill will have the opportunity to get well.

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