Sat Naam from The Netherlands!
I love learning new things. One of my favorite areas to learn about are the intersections of cognitive science, positive psychology, and neuroscience*. I am sure that someday the science of Kundalini Yoga will be well enough studied to be accepted by the medical and academic establishment, and will be part of this same discussion. Kundalini Yoga is one of the most powerful “brain hacks,” and KRI is continuing to find more ways to share this message and these techniques.
One of the areas that fascinates me is cognitive bias. There are so many ways that our brains make mistakes in our perceptions of the world. As a practitioner of The Yoga of Awareness, I want to know as much as I can about these hard-wired tendencies to make mistakes in my own awareness, and learn what I can do to try to avoid them.
One of the most prevalent cognitive biases is the confirmation bias, where our brain will automatically notice information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs, and overlooks contrary information. Part of the increasing polarization in the world around us is driven by this natural, “hard-wired,” effect that makes it very challenging to be truly open to diverse opinions and perspectives.
More and more academic literature is showing that working in truly diverse teams leads to better outcomes. Better decisions are made when you are “forced” to listen to diverse perspectives. Increasing diversity and inclusion are important parts of keeping our awareness at its highest; they are key antidotes to the pitfalls of confirmation bias! Increasing the diversity of our workplaces, societies and communities will help us counteract the natural tendencies of polarization, and all forms of tribalism. Successfully adapting to the rapidly changing world will require all of us to leverage the deeper wisdom that can come from a diverse group rather than from just ourselves, or from a group of people who all think like we do.
Of course, the social justice aspect of diversity and inclusion is equally as important. As yogis, we recognize the Oneness of all people – no matter what their race, religion, sexual preference or any other identification. And so we should be speaking and acting to counteract systems or instances where any human being is treated in any way as “less than” because of who they are. We are all the same sparks of the divine, and we need to be ensuring that we are acting that way, and working to help our whole society act that way.
Part of striving to bring our yoga practice “off-the-mat” should involve raising our awareness of, and then working to change, systems that maintain oppression or inequality of any human for being who they are. Part of being the change we want to see in the world is striving to create communities grounded in love and equality, where the Truth of the Infinite Unity is better reflected in the microcosm of our daily lives and interactions.
February is Black History month, and I hope you will join KRI in focusing on diversity this month. KRI recognizes that some people of color have not felt welcomed or supported by the Kundalini Yoga community. We are beginning a long-term effort so that everyone can feel equally welcome as a Kundalini Yoga practitioner. We will be transparent about our efforts – posting information about what we’re doing and how it’s working in the Social Justice section of our website.
May you and your family be healthy and happy, and may February bring you many blessings,
*For example, I enjoy The Happiness Lab podcast, and the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.