Monday, June 8, 2009

Enlighten Up! Can yoga transform your life?

Enlighten Up is a film by Kate, a professional film documentarien, who is also a yoga practitioner. She selects a man, Nick, who has never practiced yoga and follows him on a 6 month trek across the world as he, and she, search out the answers to the questions: Can yoga transform your life? Can you reach enlightenment through yoga? As you can imagine, the experience is as powerful for Nick as it is for Kate. I highly recommend viewing Enlighten Up.

Why is this movie relevant for social change workers?

This movie is relevant to social change workers for a number of reasons but one particular element of the movie stood out for me; the relationship between Kate, the film maker, and Nick, the "subject" of the film. For me, their relationship was similar to the one that can be found between a social change worker/activist and the community with which they work.

Early on in the film it becomes apparent that the questions about yoga and enlightenment / yoga and transformation are questions that Kate, more than Nick, needs answered for herself. Nick is adventurous and good spirited about genuinely trying to answer the question for himself...but he wants to do it in his own way, which is about "facts", really his own way of "knowing".

Kate, on the other hand, seemed to want the questions answered in a certain way--this way was different from Nick's way. Kate's impatience towards Nick's approach increasingly shows itself as the film progresses. At some point, Kate tells Nick that she does not think he is "taking this serious" and it made me wonder...

  • When we work with community do we develop impatience or become disappointed when they 'don't come to' answers/actions like we want, but instead, how they want, and how does that impact our relationship with community?
  • How and how often are we listening for the questions that the community wants answered instead of the questions we want answered?
  • How might we rely on community to do "the work" to find answers to the enduring questions in life that we want answered, instead of doing the work ourselves?

At some point, Nick reveals, to one of the many gurus he meets, an utterly common quandary..."sometimes, I don't trust myself to find my true self"...I was so endeared when he made this statement because he showed such vulnerability and courage in his admission. At that moment, for me, his revelation about not trusting himself surpassed the question about if yoga could transform ones life and landed on a more enduring phenomenon about what it means to be human. At the end of the film, Kate talks about her own revelations about pursuing her initial questions and sharing some of her own lessons and this made me want to see more of her work.

Take a gander, I thought it was well worth the time.

1 comment:

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