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About the blog

This blog is about both scientific, societal/political, and yoga-related issues - individually and considered as different aspects of the same problem/solution. A longer description is found in the first blog entry, and all old posts are found in a structured way here. The blog is an extension of my main home pages and Twitter: @gunnarcedersund

Walking marriages

relationships and sex Posted on Feb 14, 2013 01:49

In the Mosuo culture, men and women bath naked with each other without complications. If attraction would appear, it is quite natural that they spend the night together, which does not mean anything special for the future, or for their possible relationships with other partners.

China. August 2007. Foto by Sara Gouveia, taken from flickr here.


I have just seen a very beautiful and
thought-provoking documentary, about one of my favourite topics: family
structures. As many of you know already, I am since many years quite
opposed to the traditional I-am-nothing-without-you kind of love,
and relationships that by definition are structured around little
malfunctional, isolated boxes of couples, who are supposed to take care
of everything from each other, to two different carreers, to the raising
of children, all by themselves. I think that we need to develop
alternatives to that, and in that development, I think that looking at
existing alternatives is very important.

One such alternative
is found in south-west China, in the Mosuo culture. This is a
matriarchy, and as seems to be the case with all matriarchies, they also
have a much more liberal view of sexuality, and of couple-formations.
In this culture, with its “walking marriages“, you pick any, and as
many, lovers you want, and you stay together as many or as few nights as
you want. The key ingredient, I think, to make this work is that if
such couplings at some point produces a child, it is *not* the
responsibility of the biological parents to raise this child. The
responsibility of child raising is instead that of the family, with
which you stay for your entire life. According to this video, their way
of forming couples is much more harmonious and leads to much more smooth
transitions into new formations. Without these formations being
centered around any less profound and meaningful love! It also seems
like most people there leads lives that are much less filled with sexual
frustration than is the case here, but where they instead have a
natural and playful attitutude to nakedness and sexual attraction. The
comparisons between patriarchical monkey societes (like chimpanzees) and
matriarchical monkey societees (like bonobos) is stunning.

The documentary spends quite some time to the current less than
harmonious mixing of this culture with the westernized han-chinese
culture, and it unfortunately seems like the old ways rapidly are dying
out. This is sad, of course, and perhaps unavoidable. However, I can
still see a glimmer of hope in all of this: because of the current rapid
spread of ideas, the few examples of alternatives that can be found are
now available as inspiration to the entire world. So soon I think that
new alternatives will be found, and soon the current mono-culture will
blossom into a multi-alternative culture: where everybody can live in
the fashion that suits them the best, and where functionality and love
is at the heart of all family formations.

And nothing is supposed to stay permanent for ever. Love the changes in life, and life will love you back.

Like leaves in a lake

yoga: theory and material Posted on Feb 14, 2013 00:43

falling down, and forming layers after layers on the ground, and in a
lake, is often a symbol of thoughts that come into your mind, which in a
similar way forms layers after layers, which you in your meditation can
move yourself through, and digest. A bit like if you by your attention
to the thoughts, like an earthworm turns the leaves into earth. When
your meditation is regular, you will have digested many of the daily
thoughts from your ordinary life, and you will be able to see far down
into the lake.


Yesterday we at last started with the first lesson of this year’s rendition of the intermediate/advanced yoga class. Now there are some of the students who have been with me for quite some time. Several of them have even been on my summer retreats, and there is none of these students who are not eager to learn more, and to go deeper with their meditation and yoga practice. I have therefore decided to pick it up a notch, and will this semester for the first time have some long-term over-arching plans for the semester, which also will include some homework, and some assumptions of an increasing and basal level of their own practice when they come.

To understand this last statement, I should say that the big difference between an intensive summer retreat and a weekly evening-course is that at the weekly courses you are almost always starting from “scratch”. By that I mean that I almost always assume (and see) that the students who come are stressed and tired, and even though I certainly differentiate between how deep and long I go with each pose depending on the level of the student, I spend most of the class just doing things to get them back to a nice harmonious state, which allows them to go on with their lives. In contrast, at the summer retreats, I know that as the course goes on, their level will gradually increase, because they are not spending a relatively long time between each yoga practice, but are all the time improving their state in a gradually evolving process, that lasts the entire course. This does not mean that there is not pretty much up-and-down in terms of moods at such courses – it is! – but it does mean that their level at the different yoga-parameters improves, and that I can take them to places that are much deeper and more far-from-ordinary than is normally possible during a shorter process. For instance, I know that at the end of the course, they are able to sit for quite a long time in meditation, and that many of their daily “stress and just daily-digestion”-thoughts are out of their system – that deeper layers have started to emerge, and that a greater level of peace is available to them. These levels of depth and peace are available to you when you are home from the retreats as well, but typically not if you do not meditate regularly; there are then too many daily thoughts that needs digestion that lies on top of the deeper layers. The same goes for all the other parameters: breathing exercises, yoga-poses, etc.

So, this semester, I will have an evolution that is similar to that in a summer retreat, in the sense that I will try to make a progress over the semester. However, this will then, as I argue above, imply that I will have to inspire them to also do a little “daily digestion medition” at home, in between my weekly classes. If it works out, it will be really cool, and it will allow us to do some really cool stuff. One of the things that I plan to do is to go through all the six steps in Antar Mouna. They do that outside of the summer retreats also in Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School. But in those Antar Mouna courses, they only teach meditation, and do not mix it up with yoga; which means that you often feel like your body would need attention to first, before you can fully enjoy the meditation. Also, they do not assume anything about the progress in between the classes. In other words, if I succeed with the above strategy for the intermediate/advanced class this year, I will really have obtained an important improvement. It will also mean that I can help them do something that is not possible even during the summer courses: to get depth and clarity also into their everyday life, and to get a healthy relation also to their everyday thoughts. Both of these are things that are really to the heart of what I want to achieve with my yoga school: to get yoga out of the ashram and into the everyday life, without loosing any of its depth! In other words: it will be really exciting to see how this will work out! 🙂