1a : intersecting or lying at right angles 1b : having perpendicular slopes or tangents at the point of intersection <;orthogonal curves>;
Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary accessed 27 March 2012 http://www.m-w.com
In his comprehensive work Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about radical shifts in perspective which he terms “orthogonal reality”. In yoga we often speak of shifts in perspective that may occur with continued mindful yogic practice. I guess because I am fundamentally a right brained person the notion of conventional reality as two-dimensional and orthogonal reality as existing in a third dimension – not parallel, but rather at right angles (orthogonal) to conventional reality resonates in a way that only fundamental truths do. In this orthogonal space, you face squarely the previous confines of 2 dimensional reality but are no longer constrained by those narrow – or should I say flat – rules and roles.
The process feels like nothing other than an awakening from a consensus trance, a dream world, and thus all of a sudden acquiring multiple degrees of freedom, many more options for seeing and responding and for meeting wholeheartedly and with mindfulness whatever situations we find ourselves in. that before we might have just reacted to our of deeply embedded and conditioned habits. It is akin to the transition from a two-dimensional “flatland” into a third special dimension at right angles to the other two. Everything opens up, although the two old dimensions are that same as they always were, just less confining.Just by asking, for instance “Who is suffering” “Who doesn’t want what is happening to be happening?”…we are initiating nothing less than a rotation in consciousness into another “dimension”… Nothing needs to change. It’s just that your world immediately becomes a lot bigger, and more real. Everything looks difference because it is seen in a new light – an awareness that is no longer confined by the conventional dimensionality and mind set.As for change it is always happening anyway. (emphasis added)
Kabot-Zinn, J in Coming to Our Senses; Heling Ourselves and the World Throught Mindfulness, Hyperion 2006
For me personally the rotation in perspective began about 2 years ago when I began doing yoga. Three months into my yogic journey I ruptured my C6-7 disc and developed severe nerve damage requiring surgery. I started doing yoga on post-operative day 6 and did 24, 75 minute classes in the next 21 days before I was finally ready to return to work and on-call responsibilities ended my consecutive days string. Through yoga I was able to recover both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Some time later, I found myself in a weekend long retreat organized by Seane Corn’s “Off the Mat and Into the World” organization, which ” uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change”.
In this I was challenged and inspired to examine how I could use what I had found to be of so much value personally to effect positive change in the community around me. I will talk more about this in coming posts.
Thanks for reading.