A close friend is part of an amateur theatre group, which meets on a weekly basis to share a love of acting and communication. During their weekly practices they often have to partake in different exercises generally involving different aspects or elements of role-play or masquerading.
In her most recent practice the group were rehearsing an up-coming play, and during the lunch hour continued their exercises by adopting the persona of someone else in the group. Amidst much fun and laughter, each had to identify themselves as played by another.
The most noteworthy lesson that my friend took away from this amusing and surprisingly revealing experience, was that the best portrayals weren’t necessarily given by the best actors. What proved to be the most vital skill and the most valuable tool was observation. The most successful representations were due to careful, attentive observation of the tiniest details, movements and gestures.
Our conversation led me to reflect on how powerful, how essential and how educational observation can be. Defined as ‘perceiving or noticing something as signficant’ or ‘the active acquisition of information from a primary source’ it is indeed a more complicated task for us humans to undertake objectively.
Our senses do not function like a camera which impartially records all observations. Human perception is complex and unconscious. We notice, remember or forget and then interpret and reproduce this information, depending on our individual internal model or representation of the world, which we build up throughout our lives.
“The essential conditon of the domain is serenity, that allows you to see things in their true appearance and prevents us from colouring or dampening them according to our mood.” – Yoritomo Tashi.
A habitual motorcyclist I am accustomed to zipping up and down Barcelona day in, day out as I go about making my livelihood teaching students, visiting clients and completing projects. Last week to my great dismay a technical hitch left me a whole nine days without my “wheels”, something which at first appeared as a massive set-back.
Yet as the days passed, I realised I had been awarded with a wonderful week of opportunities to just simply be in the city. Used to being swept along by the traffic, buzzing swarms of other motorcycles, cars, buses and tour coaches, I was suddenly dramatically slowed to a crawl, to wander, to stroll, to mingle on streets I wouldn’t usually frequent. I sat and watched the city, watched its faces, its colours, shapes, languages. I observed. And I learnt so, so much.
I took a good look around at the weird, wonderful and whimsical elements of this fascinating city. Barcelona is one majestic Chocolate Box of a city – there is most definitely something for everyone, every flavour, every mood, white, milk or dark – you’ll find what you want.
The more we can drop into being the “observer” in our own minds, an observer of ourselves, of our own persona, the more we can watch the transient nature of our thoughts, feelings and emotions. Catching ourselves thinking usually reveals the tendency to dwell on the past or plan, fear or apprehend the future, and unsurprisingly we are rarely fully present, or at least fully accepting of our present.
As Eckhart Tolle tells us,
“What a liberation to realise that ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘Who am I then?’. The one who sees that.”
How wonderful an opportunity we have at the Barcelona Yoga Conference to join together with so many others regardless of sex, age, nationality or creed. A community of yogis and yoginis sharing the same love of life, passion for yoga, and a desire to learn and experience the practice together. A chance to connect, to observe and to see.