Monday, October 22, 2012

The Hard Drive Effect

I have never lived a day without a computer. I am probably one of the oldest people who can say that (and yes, I’m only 30), and I feel pretty spoiled saying it, but I’m saying it to make a deeper point. Our very first family computer was an Apple IIe Plus. That was back when Apple was cool before it was not cool before it became the coolest thing ever. That’s societally speaking. My personal views of Apple are not necessary to the larger point.

That original computer had no hard drive on which to add information. None. There was absolutely no way to store information on the computer. (As I have mentioned before, my memory is terrible. I could be totally wrong about this, and if I am, I apologize.) The only way to store information was on a floppy disk. They were called that because they were actually floppy. I do not remember how much information they held, but it was around 1-2 megabytes, I think. The little floppy disks, which were no longer floppy, held around 3 megabytes, if I remember correctly, and they appeared shortly after the original floppy disks. Today, you can buy a thumb drive that holds 128 gigabytes. I am terrible at math, but I can feel pretty confident that is a lot more than 3 megabytes. And hard drives? They are measured in terabytes. I did not even know tera was a measurable unit until those hard drives came out.

And hard drive storage is not the only exponential increase. Gmail changed the face of email when it started offering 1gigabyte of storage with a free account. That was around 2004. Today, I am using 3 gigabytes of my 10.1 gigabyte account. That is a lot of emails, even if they have attachments. I am not a computer scientist, and hard drives rarely have anything to do with yoga, so what is the point?

We hold onto stuff. We hold onto a lot of stuff, even when we do not realize we are doing it.

We keep making more and more space to hold onto more and more stuff. I like to tell people that one of the things I like about moving so much is that I get to clean out my stuff once in awhile. But the truth is that electronically, I hold onto everything. Now that we can hold onto these items, we never have to let go. We can look through old emails and remind ourselves of our “justified” anger at someone about something that happened years ago. We can also look through old documents and photos to remind us where we have been. But all this space leaves us little incentive to delete items that no longer serve us.

And that’s energy. That’s energy we could let go but instead hold, even if we do not see it. It is the same energy we store in our bodies when we do not let go of that which no longer serves us. As we get more and more used to never letting go, our bodies think it is normal and continue to hold old energies. And our bodies can hold a lot more information than a terabyte or two (however much that actually is). 

These held energies do to us just what junk does to a hard drive. They create clutter. And clutter creates heaviness and pain. Pain and disease are often a result of stuck energy. When prana, the life force, does not freely flow through us, it creates pain. That pain can be a sore neck from jutting the neck out while looking at a computer screen, or it can be years of pent up emotions getting stuck in the hips until we have sciatica.

Clutter also creates confusion. When there is clutter in our energies, it is more difficult to think clearly. It is more difficult to respond rather than react. It is more difficult to be creative and innovative. We have to clear out these old patterns in order to make space for something new.

And yes, this is where yoga can help. Yoga gives us the opportunity to tune into our bodies and minds and let go of the clutter. It also gives us a chance to see what and where we have held our energies. When we sit in meditation, we can watch our thoughts race by and just let them be. When we let them come and go without getting caught up in them, over time, it becomes easier just to let them arise and then disappear. When we tune into the pain and stuck energy in our bodies, over time, we can learn to breathe into it, soften into it, and let it start moving again. Eventually, the pain begins to dissipate.

But this does not happen overnight. We are hardwiring ourselves to hold onto energy, to hold onto clutter. We are creating samskaras of holding energy. As our hard drives get bigger, and we take less time in quiet solitude, we create holding patterns rather than releasing patterns. These patterns are difficult to break. But it can be done. And over time, releasing these patterns, and releasing these energies can only open us up to bigger opportunities going forward.

This does not mean I am deleting my hard drive. But I may start deleting more emails. I also may start deleting the photos I do not like. Just because I can save them does not mean I should. But most importantly, it is time to notice the holding patterns within ourselves. How does our excessive ability to never let go inhibit our ability to let go of that which no longer serves us? 

How do you notice yourself holding onto energy? What do you do to release it?


© Rebecca Stahl 2012, all rights reserved.

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