Why Am I Here and What Am I Doing: Supermarket Mantra


(The first in a series of short posts to dispel yoga block and writer’s blog)

Motionless, agoraphobic and floundering in space in the final resting place of the yoga practice known as savasana a question came to save me. Why am I here and what am I doing? I’m here to relax. I’m letting go.

That question came up and became a mantra in the supermarket one day when I, the sleep deprived mother of an endlessly wakeful infant, found myself free of alpha waves. Spaced out and staring distracted by choices, I was frozen in the aisle. I couldn’t remember what I was doing there. Why am I here?  Get bread. What am I doing? Damn, I’m staring at beautiful tea boxes. That’s not on the list. Why am I here? Buy juice. What am I doing? I’m buying chocolate bars. Keep moving.

In the way of affirmations or inspirations that people adopt as helpful reminders when they’ve got no flow, supermarket mantra crawls into my head at unexpected times. Sitting with people I don’t enjoy, trying to be polite…. Why am I here, what am I doing?  You’re wasting time. You’re here to please other people. You’re not fooling anyone. Get up and go. It happens.

On Easter, the Lutheran church down the road which repeatedly offers solutions and suggestions of complete absurdity on its spirit polluting sign said, “Jesus Beat Death”.  And I heard my husband mutter under his breath, “Well that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it.”  I asked him what he meant by that and he said that religion was about the proof and promise of everlasting life and that’s what motivates people.

I got to thinking about the ways we try to beat death and I thought about my way which is constant movement. Keep moving even when I’m sick or tired or sick and tired. It degrades the here and now. Yoga describes this as a klesha or living in ignorance of both your personal nature and the natural world. Fear of death is a klesha. Running from oneself is a klesha. It’s based on supreme ignorance. I’m working on that. Perhaps a life spent with an eye on heaven or reincarnation or samadhi yields better results for some but that’s not my way.

I thought of Ray Kurzweil‘s interview on “The Colbert Report” that portrayed a futuristic vision of everlasting life that had left me uneasy. He said that by the year 2045 we will have and need to implant nanobots which are the size of cells because technology is advancing faster than we can keep up with it. He allows that this technology is dangerous but it’s too late to stop its progress. If we stop malevolent technology could take over. Sounds like an amped of version running to keep up with yourself.  Looks to me like trying to beat death.

Futurists like Kurzweil have seen this coming and some herald artificial intelligence as a triumph of science over nature. Seems like a lot of sitting on your ass to me and ominous but I’ll try to stay open minded even though I think my own machine centered life is already sucking my wind.

I’m not motivated by everlasting life or an Eveready powered life. I’m here to take care of people. I’m here to appreciate this place and take care of it. I’m here to take care of myself. That’s why I’m here and that’s what I’m doing. And I’ve got the mantra in case I forget.

(Published in Elephant Journal)


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