BOŞLUK VI: HEDİYE

Istanbul by Aisha Harley
Foto: Aisha Harley

Fresh Pot kahvesi Powels kitapçısının bitişiğinde. Hatta kahveye girmek için kitapçının kapısını kullanıyoruz. Sabah vakti kitap kokusuna karışık kahve beni mest ediyor. Bu yaz Albina Press’i Fresh Pot’a değiştim. Albina Press çok fazla tanıdık ile doldu. Tek başıma avarelik edemiyorum artık orada. Oturur oturmaz birileri masama yanaşıveriyor. Fresh Pot’un kahvesi daha iyi zaten. Ve bir de komşu kitapçının raflarından istediğim kitabı çekip masama getirebilirim.

Dışarıda tatlı bir sonbahar havası…Yağmur yağıyor, hava serin ve karanlık, sokaklar sakin ve boş. İç mekanların tadı bir başka çıkıyor böyle havalarda. Portlandlılar çok uzun ve çok yağmurlu bir kış geçirdikleri yetmemiş gibi, yazın da bir türlü başlamamasına müthiş bozuluyorlar. Haklı olarak. Biz buraya göçmeden önce on beş gün boyunca Leros’da denize girip çıkıp, daha tuzumuz kurumadan kalamar, ahtapot, çoban salatası, patates kızartması ile dolu sofralarda yemekler yediğimiz için yaza doymuşuz gibi geliyor bana. Sonbahar 30’lu yaşlarımın en sevdiğim mevsimi haline geldi galiba!

Bu sabah iki dersim vardı. Saatimi 5’e kurmuştum. Derslerin öncesine kendi yogamı yapma niyeti ile. Yine olmadı! Normalden 45 dakika önce uyanmak niye bu kadar zor anlamıyorum ki! Kendi yogam kaldı iki dersin sonrasına .Taa 8:30’a. O saatte yoga mı yapılırmış, diye söyleniyor yine içimdeki çok bilmiş. Of!

Istanbul by Aisha Harley
Foto: Aisha Harley

Güneşten önce kalkmayı becerdikten sonra bir kere, yogayı tam gün doğumuna denk getirmek öyle kuvvetli bir etki yapıyor ki! Yıllar önce, bütün yazı bir sahile kurduğum çadırımda geçirirken, komşum Serap ile güneş doğmadan uyanır, hiç konuşmadan doğuya yüzümüzü döner yogamıza başlardık. Saat kaçtı o sabahlarda? Uzun yaz günleri olduğuna göre, 4:30’dan geç olamaz. Yarın sabah yine deneyeceğim. İnanıyoruz ki zevke ve keyfe odaklanırsak, 5’de kalkabileceğiz (içimdeki ses ve ben.)

Ama bugün yogadan bahsetmeyecektim. Çünkü Boşluk serisi yoga serisi değil. Ruh, nefes, spirit, mizah, can, yaratıcılık, ilham, hayal gücü…bunları yogaya bağlayabiliriz elbet ama ömrünüzde yoga yapmadınız ve yapmayacak iseniz bile neden söz ettiğimi anlıyorsunuz değil mi? Boşluk yogadan büyük bir alanı kaplıyor.

Her birimiz eşsiz insanlarız. Maceradan arınmış, rutine dayalı sözde en sıradan hayatları sürenlerimiz bile özel-orjinal benlikler içinde yaşıyoruz. Nasıl ki her birimizin genetik yapısı bu alemde tek ve eşsiz, aynısı benliğimiz için de geçerli. Genlerimiz, birikim ve tecrübelerimiz, yaşam koşullarımız ve bilmediğimiz milyonlarca faktörün bir araya gelmesinden, benlik oluşmuş. Her birimiz insanlık halimizi  diğerinden farklı tecrübe ederiz ama nihayetinde insan birdir.  Bu birlik sayesinde iletişim kurabiliriz. Benim insanlığımı yaşama yolum yazı ile size ulaşır ve sizin insanlık halinizle örtüşür, size bir şey katar ve siz de dönüp kendinizinkini bir diğerine aktarırsınız. İlham zincirleme birbirimize geçirdiğimiz hediyedir.

Spiritsiz insan olmadığı gibi, hayal gücü ve yaratıcılıktan yoksun insan da yoktur. Geleneksel toplumlarda el işi, marangozluk, müzik, dans, muhabbet tellallığı, oyunculuk, masal yazmak/anlatmak gibi yaratıcılığı besleyen faaliyetler günlük hayatın parçası olarak yaşanıyordu. Bütün yetişkinlerin müzik yapması da, dans etmesi de sıradan ve sık sık tekrar eden olaylardı. Şimdi müzik yapmak, dans etmek, resim yapmak, yazı yazmak için bu alanlardan birine karşı yeteneğimiz olması gerektiğine inanıyoruz. Oysa ki ilham perisi gibi yetenek de zamanla, sabırla, kapısı çalına çalına uyanan bir diğer lamba cini.

Dünyada kaç milyar insan yaşıyorsa, bir o kadar da spirit var. Bir o kadar kendini ifade etme biçimi…Binlerce farklı kanaldan, milyonlarca farklı insana…Günümüzde yaratma imkanlarımız azalmadı, tersine arttı. Geleneksel toplumlarda ancak kendi kabileme, köyüme sunabileceğim iç dünyamı şimdi benimle aynı dili konuşan binlerce insana açabiliyorum. Bir şeyleri kanıtlamak, sizi değiştirmek, ya da etkilemek, daha iyi bir insan olmak için değil. Yaratmanın tatminini yaşamak için. Bu da sizin bana hediyeniz.

Can, öz  veya spirit uyuduğu yerden çıktıkça beraberinde yaratıcılığı getiriyor. Spirit, yogadaki gibi nefesle bedenin derinliklerine dokunarak veya insanın kendi gerçeğinin farkına varması sonucunda ortaya çıkabilir. Kendi gerçeğimiz derken, o orjinal benliğimizden söz ediyorum. Sadece size has olan, genetik yapınız gibi nevi şahsınza münhasır benliğinizden!

Bu arada o orjinal benlik (spirit)  bilinçli veya bilinçsiz olarak çocukluğumuzdan beri bastırılmış olabilir. Anne-baba “düzeltmeleri” (ama biz senin iyiliğini istediğimiz için böyle söylüyoruz), öğretmen eleştirisi (daha iyisini yapabileceğini biliyoum!), arkadaşların dalga geçmesi, eşlerin eşlere inançsızlığı, ve hatta kendi çocuklarımızın bizi küçümsemesi…Bir ömür bunlara şahitlik eden Spirit koşa koşa lambasına geri kaçmasın da ne yapsın? Ancak bir iki kadeh içki içtiğimizde geri gelir bazen. (İngilizce’de alkollü içeceklere bilin bakalım ne derler: Spirit!) Spirit’i dışarı çağırmak için alkollü spiritlere bağımlı hale gelirsek yalnız, yine kaçar lambasının içine.

İnsan yaratmak ister. İnsan ait olmak ister. Ne demişti yogi Bajan? We all long to belong. Hepimiz aidiyetin hasretini çekeriz. Yaradana kavuşmak yaratmaktan geçer. İnsanı insan yapan analitik düşünme yeteneği değil, hayal gücüdür bence. Hayal gücü orjinal benlikten, candan, spiritten beslenir.  Spirit avare zamanlardan…

Size bir hediye vereceğim:

Bir saat BOŞLUK.

Haydi bugün avare avare dolanın sokaklarda bir saat. Tek başınıza. Kimse ile konuşmadan. Bir yere yetişmeden. Belki kulağınıza müzik takar, bir film seyreder gibi sokaklardaki kendinizi seyredersiniz. Kim bilir belki alfa frekansına geçersiniz. Belki spirit lambanın ağzından başını gösterir, bir dilek tutarsınız. Belki bir şarkı yazarsınız, ya da mektup, belki bir resim yaparsınız ya da sekiverirsiniz kaldırımda.

Nasıl isterseniz öyle değerlendirin hediyenizi…

Mutlu günler!

SON

Istanbul by Aisha Harley
Foto: Aisha Harley

Aisha Harley’nin ve İstanbul’un ruhunu yansıtan bu güzel fotoğrafların devamına Defnesumanyoga’nın Facebook sayfasından bakabilirsiniz!

The Taste of the Forbidden Fruit

Photo: Aisha Harley

Nowadays, I arrive everywhere early. Just to have a cup of coffee or to read a few pages before the next thing on my schedule. Like now for instance… I still have 40 minutes before my evening class begins and I have already arrived to the coffee shop next to my studio.

Now…How about a piece on this coffee thing?

Friends, students and readers, who recently read, heard or saw that I drink coffee, have been commenting on this, which I find interesting.  Some people who read Mavi Orman write and ask me if I am still drinking margaritas and eating chips and salsa. (yes of course I do!)

Aren’t these the “forbidden items”? (says who?) How about not eating after sunset? (how about it?) Aren’t there rules to follow and regulations to apply for a good practice?  (are there?)

I gather that there is some confusion in the minds of people who take or want to take yoga seriously into their lives, about the ways of eating and drinking in the yoga world.

***

When I started practicing yoga in Thailand, I had set rules for myself right away. I always loved setting rules for myself (and for others) anyway, so I embraced the opportunity and the soldier in me celebrated my decision!

By then I already had no zest for alcohol, cigarettes and its contents due to my overconsumption of them in the previous decade. So a ban on these was not a major change for the soldier in me. In the winter before I went to Thailand, my friend Ayşe had suggested that we follow a chicken diet which entails for duration of one month, consumption of nothing else but all kinds of birds, and nothing else. (Well, maybe plus a salad or two).

As you may guess, at the end of that one month, which was supposed make us lose 6 pounds (and didn’t) I lost ability to eat anything with wings on them. My disgust was to such a degree that I still can’t stand the site of the chicken on a plate!

Around the time I started yoga I was getting tired of my Thai-Lao breakfast which was mainly consisted of Larb – a mixture of mint, lemon and a roasted meat of some unknown animal- and sticky rice. Taking a break from being a carnivore sounded like an attractive idea.

So quitting chicken and meat was no challenge and the soldier in me had high aspirations anyway: He deemed appropriate that coffee, soy milk, sugar, salt, fish and seafood should be forbidden.

Thus, began my meals of papaya salad-white rice-green tea for eight months. When I went back to Istanbul on the eight month, the color of my skin had turned almost orange  –because of the papaya– and I had no other thought than trespassing my forbidden zone.

Ice-cream, coffee, fish, corn chips, french fries…

***

Photo: Aisha Harley

It is very well explained in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic-Programming) seminars: Whatever we focus on not to do reproduces itself. If a thought is focused on prohibition, the brain continues to produce the thought of the prohibition continuously.

A decade earlier than my papaya-sticky rice diet, my friend Yasemin’s mother had taken us to a dietician. Since we were not backing up from our obsession of losing weight, she thought we had better continued our madness in the supervision of an expert. We were seventeen. We truly believed that if we could live on half a packet of diet crakers and one (yes, in numbers 1) red mullet a day, we could lose our “extra” six pounds.

I remember my shaking hands before every dinner out of hunger-driven nervousness and I drove my mom crazy with my grumpy impatience while she cooked my single mullet. Then on the weekend when Yasemin and I got together, provoking each other easily, we used to break the fast with McChicken meals at the nearest Mc Donalds!

So Mr. Dietician handed us, the seventeen year-olds who were suffering not from any extra pounds but lack of self-confidence, lists of what to be eaten in my day:  3 fruits, 100 grams of meat, two dishes of vegetables, etc. (We did consider once, one whole water melon per person as one of the three fuits!)

And one more thing: An X.

X, he said, could be anything and it could only be consumed once a week. Ice cream, bagel (simit), chocolate, street food, hamburger, french fries, whatever it may be!

X immediately became the only dream of our dear young brains! We were constantly talking about what the X of that week would be, and making special plans for that special day of the week that we would eat the X!

X was the forbidden fruit for us and we were reproducing its idea in our minds over and over.

Isn’t this exactly the story of the forbidden fruit?

***

Yoga and Ayuverda texts present some suggestions of eating and drinking for a healthy, balanced body, calm and centered mind and a deep yoga practice. This is true. But they also draw our attention to the fact that all these suggestions should be rearranged according to one’s bodily constitution, and that each person should explore the food, which nourishes him in a wholesome way. Certain food that have the potential for agitating the mind, like meat, fish, alcohol, coffee, salt and sugar, may not have the same effect on every body. Some minds on the other hand, could be agitated not because of these food, but because they try to over-control themselves.

I repeat in my writings that yoga is not about control. Discipline –which is different from control- is necessary to acquire the ability to observe with patience what is good for one, what is not. I find that the best way is to monitor myself during the practice every morning. Unless we have the metabolism of a fifteen year-old boy, food we eat at a late hour previous night and its remains would still be occupying our inner organs the next morning.

Yogasana is a practice that deepens as the breath gets slow and long. The more space we have in the navel area the freer the breath gets and stronger the core center of the body.  Experiencing such strength and freedom make me want to reduce the amount of food intake at night-time. And of course there are some nights, when going out with friends, eating and drinking is more worthwhile then doing a deep yoga practice in the morning. Then, I don’t’ worry about my inner organs and next days practice too much.

Again, if I  feel weak, tired, stiff or reluctant while doing yoga in the morning, I take a look at the previous day’s menu. I do the same thing in the mornings when I feel flexible, strong, full of joy and enthusiasm. Whatever I did in the previous day yielded good results for me. (Bear in mind that along with what we eat and drink, factors like stress, overuse of muscles, sports, staying in the sun for too long, thirst will effect our next day’s yoga as well).

My teacher often tells us that yogic life cannot be led by control and prohibitions or by recipes that may work for others but not for us. He mentions that everyone has different needs when it comes to diet and each one of us should all arrive there slowly by exploring what kind of food suit us the most.

The thought of forbidden fruit is a great pleasure for the obsessive mind. Imposing the ways of eating/living/behaving/making love are all different forms of the same obsessive mental pattern. As discipline and control do not mean the same thing, yoga practice does not evolve with imposition either. Yoga is about exploring one’s true self through the study and understanding of his/her real needs, shadows as well as gifts. The way to go about it, I believe, is possible by staying curious and in love!

Bon appetite, all!

Defne

Photo: Aisha Harley

By the way…Yasemin, with whom we dreamed of X’s, studied psychology and holistic nutrition. She is now a successful health and wellness coach. If you would like to explore what suits you the most under  her guidance. Here is her address:

http://www.yaseminagazat.com

Translation: Ebru Salman

Some Other Thing

1998

In the morning of the day after my 35th birthday, I woke up with an uneasy feeling in my chest. I remembered coming home from my party and hopping into bed without even brushing my teeth. The uneasiness  was unexpected yet familiar.

The lights of the warm sun were dancing on the Marmara Sea. I examined my inner space to find out what to do this morning. No signal came other than the familiar but distant uneasiness. The weather, however, was so playful and tempting. I thought about a place where I would not have come across anyone; that I would not need to talk with anybody or socialize… Where should I go?

I got in my car feeling not so sure about my direction. I have been driving the same car for fifteen years. Like a loyal horse, my Daihatsu Feroza, waits for me in its corner when I am not in Turkey and it smells different every season.

When I sat by the steering wheel, I knew where I was supposed to go by smelling the car:

To Boğaziçi University.

Really?

What if someone sees me there? A professor? A teaching assistant maybe? What if they say, how could you leave us like that, with no farewell? What if they condemn me for all these years I remained silent and distant?

Maybe I should go to Bebek, instead of the school? “No,” said the smell, “You must go to Boğaziçi”.  Then, my car rode the road from Gayrettepe to Boğaziçi on auto-pilot anyway. It is so used to this route. It even entered the campus. The guards did not recognize me, but the old sticker on my car’s window. I parked by the Engineering building and skipped down to the stairs which lead to the main square. Without looking at my watch, from the calmness around, I knew that the 10 o’clock classes had just begun. I sat on a bench and took a deep breath.

I recognized the uneasiness inside me all of a sudden. This was an uneasiness that belonged to the Old Me. Now I knew why I came here. The Old Me  called me from seven years ago. Perhaps to say, “You think you have grown up, but it is not so easy to leave me and go away”…

Because lately I have been getting a big head. A more important date than my official birthday yesterday was February 20th, the seventh birthday of the New Me. That is, the seventh anniversary of my first yoga class. From wherever I heard it, I knew that all the cells in human body were renewed every seven years. With the remnants of ontology I learnt with my late philosophy professor Arda Denkel, I had even filled up a few pages looking for an answer to the question: “What is it that makes the current me the same with the me seven years ago?”. As all the cells in my body are renewed, is there anything common left between me and the person who started yoga on February 20th seven years ago? Or is it another illusion of the mind to consider myself a marvel of continuity?

I turned my cell phone off as I sat across the beautiful green lawn of the university. While watching the singular light from the Bosphorus gliding through the New England style stone buildings, I realized that I didn’t want calls from anyone from my “new life”. My mind was canceling everything I liked or disliked about “today”. The thought patterns,  feelings, behaviors, and sensations which I have developed within the last seven years were being erased from my memory one by one like in the movie “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.

I felt like eating kumpir –stuffed baked potato- and  making sculptures out of clay. In the illusion of time I thought my friends would soon come out of their classes, down to the lawn. Until they come, I should try once more to understand an abstract theoretical article; just as I decide to do that, my mind takes a flight to the flowers, the bugs, and I leave it.

By the end of the second class, students started to appear, they sat around and lay down on the grass. Does time stop at Boğaziçi? The students who sat on the rather wet grass around me looked the same as before. A whole millennium passed since I left and they still drink that awful tea in paper cups and eat miserable sandwiches. Girls take off their jackets and sweaters, and expose their skin to the sun, while laughing with no reason. To the smell of their sandwiches, three-colored cats come by shaking their big bellies, and giggling girls remain indecisive whether to feed or chase away.

I lay on the grass as well. I spent ten years in this school. My professor Nilüfer Göle used to  say, “You turned this place into your mother’s womb”. That was because I couldn’t get out of it and launch into life. In a reference letter for a doctorate application, one of my professors wrote: “Defne is such and such, and it is about time she made a change in her life”.

Just like it is now, the South Campus of Bogazici University was so green, so secluded from the life outside, and so safe that, we would do anything we can to delay the day of graduation. Everyone within the walls of this castle was bright and intelligent, the lessons were of high quality, and we had numerous channels through which our creative energies would flow.

While feeling surrounded by muses within these walls, I would feel shattered outside the school; that’s right. The uneasiness I felt today would visit me often in my youth. I felt like an empty nutshell then. I knew that life was bigger, much bigger than the oasis of Bogazici, but didn’t have the power (or maybe the courage) to make the slightest move to discover it. I tried to patch up  the gaps in my life with self-destructive love affairs, dramas, endless socialization, night-life, getting drunk and one-night stands.  It was the time when my friend Teoman released a hit song Paramparca (Shattered into Pieces). In his song there was line saying: all the lives around me are shattered in to pieces. Mine was definitely one of those lives around him!

Then, in the morning I would have my breakfast composed of a huge mug of black coffee and water-soluble aspirin, drive my Daihatsu down to the Bosphorus, and along with the feeling of satisfaction that the school disseminates in my soul, I would either forget last night or leave it aside to analyze it later when the girls come out of class.

We used to have much fun then. It was like I was protecting myself from my dark pit inside by having fun. I used to think that life was all about an oscillation between pain and pleasure. My dear stories were dramas caught in the “intimacies of stolen times” in my friend Nazan’s terms. 

With no notion of balance, sometimes I whistled my uneasiness in this Yeni Turku song:

Some other thing

is what I want

Resembles neither the tree nor the cloud

The land I will travel

is somewhere different

Its air is different

and its water is unlike any other

And sometimes I would stop and ask myself, what is this that “some other thing” I wanted? And right after that, I would say, “Whatever… we’ll think about that tomorrow.  Now I must focus on  what I am doing tonight.”

Yesterday was my birthday. In the hours that the Old Me got a hold of my soul, I realized once again such a blessing  has been finding the path of yoga in my life. With every new age I stepped into in the last seven years, life became more fulfilled and meaningful, more beautiful.

When in all my honesty, I started questioning why I did things that I really didn’t want to do, what needs of mine were served through self-destructive patterns, slowly  the dreary works, innutritious food, drunken nights, one-night stands and dramas got eliminated from my life.

What remains is a life in which I only do works from which I derive gratification and in which I find the relationships that nourish my soul.

This life is becoming more mine every year.

As I am entering my thirty-sixth year on earth, I am so content and grateful for all the opportunities and people who came across my way. In such spiritual contentment,  I cannot think of any other wish than “May everything continue like this”.

Now, I can see that the unsatisfied girl with storms raging inside her is looking at me with envy in her eyes from the grass lawn of Bogazici University. My heart is filled with compassion and pride as I look at her.

She doesn’t know yet.

That girl wants to be me.

What she wants is

some other thing…

This is an excerpt from my book Mavi Orman, published in February 2011 by Kuraldışı Yayınları.

Translation from original text Başka Türlü Birşey:  Ebru Salman