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A vision of humanity united in one breath at Do As One

A vision of humanity united in one breath at Do As One

The uneasy marriage of yoga and technology continues to unfold online.

Just this week I found Do As One, a website that invites us to log on and breathe together, chant Om together or laugh together.

The non-profit Beverley Hills based organization has a vision: “1 billion people will breathe together synchronously by November 11, 2012.”

This is part of a larger goal, “to raise the awareness of healthy, conscious breathing and to create the opportunity for humanity to experience its own inherent Oneness through the power of breath.”

When you log into Do As One, you choose a room, Universal Breathing, Universal Om, Universal Laughter, or Full Spectrum Breathing.

Once inside, you can set the color of the background, choose the duration of your breath cycles, choose from several pranayamas, including alternate nostril breathing and Kapalabhati, set a timer and choose the chime you want to ring at the end. In the laughter room, you can also pick a laugh track: Woody, cartoony, Ha Ha Ha, Squeaky Giggle, Witch Giggle, Baby Laugh, Mousey Lady, and more.

Of all of them, I found the Full Spectrum Breathing Room the most engaging, the screen changing color as you breath your way up the chakras, all the way to violet.

There’s a counter at the entry  to each room, which lets you know how many other people are simultaneously breathing or laughing. (Eight in the Universal Om room at 9:45 this morning, six in the Full Spectrum Breathing Room, and one in each in the Universal Breathing Room and the Universal Laughter room.)

As far away as it might now be, Do As One invites us to consider the grand vision: “For just one moment, think of what might happen if one billion people on the earth were to be breathing in and out in perfect unison, creating one Universal breath flow. What impact could this have on humanity and the entire living Universe?

Um, hard to say.
Wouldn’t it still be one billion people, each alone in a room, interacting with a screen?

E.M. Forster is much more famous for his novels and their film adaptations than for his sci-fi story, The Machine Stops

E.M. Forster is much more famous for his novels and their film adaptations than for his sci-fi story, The Machine Stops

Something about that vision reminded me of an E.M. Forster story, The Machine Stops.

In this future civilization, people live underground, each in a separate room, serviced by The Machine. Seated in a chair that moves them around the room, they push buttons to summon music, food, communication with friends, a bed for whenever they want to sleep.

I read it in the late ‘60s, when it seemed like a cautionary tale from 1909 about letting machines do our work. In 1968, the only computers I knew of were giant sorting machines that pushed rods through perforated file cards.

Now it seems eerily prescient.

The main character, Vashti, has left her room only a handful of times in her life, yet she “knew several thousand people.”
Her room is almost empty, but gives her everything she needs. She has one book, The Book Of The Machine, left over from “the age of litter.”

When her son calls her from his own underground room across the world, she sees and hears him through a round plate that she holds in her hands, which, apart from the roundness, sounds a lot like a new iphone.

To talk with him, she goes into “isolation.” When she comes out, “all the accumulations of the last three minutes burst upon her. The room was filled with the noise of bells, and speaking-tubes. What was the new food like? Could she recommend it? Has she had any ideas lately? Might one tell her one’s own ideas? Would she make an engagement to visit the public nurseries at an early date?–say this day month.”

Twitter, anyone?

Then, tellingly: “To most of these questions she replied with irritation–a growing quality in that accelerated age.”

I didn’t remember these quotes, and I don’t own a copy of the book.

Due to the magic of the internet, I was able to Google the title, and download a free copy within minutes.

When I first read this book, if you wanted information, you went to the library to get it, and carried it home, like a bucket of water.
Now our homes have hot and cold running information, piped in.

And we might, if we like, go to a Universal Breathing Room, and do our pranayama, or our chanting “together” with recorded voices.

The implications? Too much for me on a sunny day when I could go for a walk. What do you think?

If this was your kind of post, you might also like:

Yoga Bear in Finland: But What Does It Mean?

Signs of Summer: A Souvenir From Travel in England

Can We Control How We Age?

Oh lovely!

Oh lovely!

After several days of having the random pose selector come up with puzzling combinations, (Swastikasana and Supta Swastikasana, Paripurna Navasana and Karnapidasana, anyone?) this morning’s poses are a pleasant little song, easy to sequence, easy to link.

When I try them out in practice, I plan to try Kelly’s suggestion of linking soft and receding groins.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Beverly November 5, 2010, 12:03 pm

    In the early 1990s I was rushing headlong into the computer craze. I had a storefront business in Vancouver at the time. Now I work strictly online from my home in Victoria. I’m not saying I built my own prison because I’m not unhappy. My lifestyle is flexible and I can change it if I don’t like it. I’m lucky to have options. But there are days I bemoan being tied to my computer, if I travel I have to take my laptop in case a customer needs to reach me. And my hobbies are changing to old fashioned pursuits – knitting, baking, growing my own food. I even took up a musical instrument. I quit Facebook and Twitter. I subscribe to the New Yorker magazine rather than reading it online. I like to think that when I retire the computer will play a very small part of my life but when I realize how connected I am (your postings are something I look forward to, Eve) I can see it will be difficult.

    • Eve November 5, 2010, 2:44 pm

      Hi Beverly,
      Interesting, isn’t it, how we can love our choices and still dislike certain things about them, like a little too much time looking at a screen. I wonder if, when it’s no longer necessary for work, you won’t find the computer a lovely toy. I’ve realized that checking in to the blogs I follow in the morning has pretty much replaced early morning newspaper reading for me. As much as I like the physical aspects of reading – I’m still not ready to read books on an iPad – there’s something magical about clicking a link and being transported off in the direction of what you wanted to know.
      I feel honored that you look forward to my posts. Thank you.

  • elizabeth November 4, 2010, 1:35 pm

    Thanks Eve,
    Well I just went for the sitting and breathing 5 min. then the Full Spectrum Breathing. A nice few quieting minutes to get me centered before I do some cleaning and maybe outside to rake some leaves!! A little incentive to start a daily practice!

    • Eve November 4, 2010, 1:54 pm

      Hi Elizabeth,
      How nice to be raking leaves on a November day! I spent an hour that way yesterday, and loved it. The Full Spectrum Breathing is a trip, isn’t it? Of all the possibilities, that’s the one I’d revisit.

  • Becky November 4, 2010, 12:41 pm

    I loved reading this post and now I’m intrigued with the E.M. Forster book. I often times think about this technological age we’re in and what are the deeper implications of it. It’s spooky to see your connections between the story and all of our new ‘high tech’ gadgets and toys. It especially worries me when I think of kids. My nieces are addicted to Facebook and pop culture and their gameboys. They need to be entertained at all times and usually by some sort of electronic device, not by their minds or each other. My best memories as a kid are from making up games and pretending to be traveling across the Sahara, turning my room into a make-believe desert. How will this change the generations to come? Thanks for such a provocative post!

    • Eve November 4, 2010, 1:03 pm

      Becky, lovely to see your name pop up.
      I agree, our current technological age is about equal parts delightful and worrying.
      Apart from all the electronic gadgetry, kids growing up now are deprived of one of the most joyful things of my childhood, which was hanging around outside, unsupervised, with my best pal. By the time we were six, we pretty much had the freedom of the neighborhood, and spent our time swaggering around with our thumbs in our jeans pockets, aggressively walking like cowboys, or playing in the creek in the park that was two blocks from my house. Life indoors couldn’t compare. Now the outside world seems too dangerous for kids. Sad thing.

  • Paolo November 4, 2010, 12:25 pm

    What I think is that I’m grateful for your blog posts, Eve. They are always entertaining and lead to new doors of thought opening from this (sometimes lonely) room with a screen called my office. I can’t wait to read the EM Forster story, for starters.

    I’m with you. The possibility of a nice walk on a sunny day outweighs many of the implications.

    You’ve got me thinking though. That’s a powerful image, 1 billion people all staring at screens in separate rooms to breathe together, and in some ways it’s more a dystopian vision, isn’t it. But not altogether dystopian. Hmm.

    • Eve November 4, 2010, 12:56 pm

      Hey Paolo, good to hear from you!
      It is a powerful image, isn’t it? And yes, I think dystopian. And yet so well meant.
      What revisiting The Machine Stops did for me was awaken the desire to reread Forster’s novels. I think The Machine Stops is a fairly early work – still worth it, but early. And I think about “only connect,” which I believe is the last line in Howards End, although I could be wrong, and how that theme from his mature work resonates so much with this story.