Occupy Mindshare with Yoga. ~ Monique Parker

Via elephant journal
on Jun 25, 2012
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The practice of classic yoga, which requires aspirants to initiate and pacifistically protest against corruption of the mind, is arguably the oldest form of activism on the planet.

For centuries yogis have consciously worked to oppose stimuli and thought waves that not only vie for attention, but also uncontrollably enter the senses and mind by the millions.

While ancient yogis didn’t have the endless bombardment of modern day technology, they did battle with an equally demanding foe: the restless mind. In today’s modern world, we continue to be slaves to the mind, and to the thousands of advertisements that come from any number of technologies: TV, radio, computer and cell phone.

Marketing = Mindshare

Internet has just about replaced television and its predecessor, radio, as the stimulant of choice. Like most kids growing up in the 70s and 80s, I was weaned on television and a smorgasbord of popular sitcoms. On any given night of the week my family tuned in to our favorite TV shows: The Love Boat, M.A.S.H., Happy Days, Taxi and The Cosby Show.

Ask any American over the age of 35 and they will likely remember an episode from one of these sitcoms. For this reason TV has left an indelible imprint on the collective consciousness, much as the Internet and cell phone apps are doing today.

Although I have not watched TV in over 20 years, what enchanted me most about it were the commercials. The clever jingles. The 60-second storyboards. The unforgettable characters: Spuds Mckenzie and the Energizer Bunny.

Because of commercials, I had aspirations as a teenager of working in advertising. On Sunday mornings my mom used to cook a big breakfast, and I would use my captive audience to try out commercials I had created while my family ate together. “Pan in. Voice over,” I would say, peering at them through my finger framed camera.

I dreamt of moving to New York City where I would become a TV commercial writer. That fantasy ended when I realized that I didn’t want to sell dog food at the sixth grade comprehension level.

So instead I became a high tech copywriter in Silicon Valley and wrote about technology I never quite understood. If I thought writing at the sixth grade level was bad, this was worse. Tech writing is suffused with acronyms, annoying buzzwords and overused jargon, such as “seamless”, “cutting edge” and “solution”. As in TV advertising, the end goal of Internet marketing is to capture mindshare in the consumer’s psychology.

During this time I came to practice yoga, seeking relief from long hours sitting in front of the computer in a position I came to call “computerasana”.

It was not uncommon for me to experience backaches, eyestrain, tight psoas muscles, poor posture, headaches and digestive issues. Although I began studying yoga for its physical benefits, it is yoga’s contribution as a psychology that kept me committed to the discipline all these years.

John Fullbright

Pratyahara: Taking Back Your Mindshare

Yoga recognizes that the external world is not in our own hands. That the only thing that we can change is what happens inside of our own minds: how we think, what we say and what we do.

Most of the time we don’t understand the source of our problems. But we react to them. We perpetuate them. And then we wonder why we are getting the same results.

Advertisers recognize that we are a slave to our senses. That is why they spend millions of dollars to dominate our psychology and congest our mind space with the presence of products that we don’t want or need, hence the term “mind share.”  This mass manipulation is happening on an even larger scale today with the prevalence of the Internet and the 1,000,001 stimuli vying for our attention.

This stimulus overload can lead to compulsive thoughts (I want more, better, different!), a chronically stressed state, and a perpetual seeking for something that will gratify us, if only for a little while.

The 5th limb of ashtanga yoga (meaning 8 limbs or eightfold path) is pratyahara, or the practice of withdrawing the senses. You don’t need to be on a yoga mat or in front of an altar to do this practice. It begins with where you put your attention.

How to Unplug

If you suspect that you spend too much time in front of the TV, on the Internet, connected to an android phone, or in an environment that leaves you feeling depleted and agitated, than take some time to unplug.

Draw your attention away from objects outside of yourself. To do this stop what you are doing, close your eyes and watch your breath. When thoughts arise, simply allow them and re-direct your attention to your breath. Do this several times a day. This is the first step in reoccupying your mindshare.



Monique Parker is the director of Svastha Yoga Institute, the US-affiliate school of Svastha Yoga and Ayurveda in Chennai, India. A yoga practitioner for 17 years, she also co-founded and directs the Yoga Teacher Certification Program at the University of New Mexico-Taos. Recently Monique was named one of the “Remarkable Women of Taos”, a year-long celebration honoring outstanding historic and contemporary women of Taos, NM, where she lives and teaches. Her blog, “Meditate on This”, regularly appears in the Taos News. Visit her website: www.svasthayogainstitute.com or email her at: [email protected]


Editor: Hayley Samuelson.


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54 Responses to “Occupy Mindshare with Yoga. ~ Monique Parker”

  1. […] thought waves that not only vie for attention, but also uncontrollably enter the senses and […] Source RELATED NEWSOccupy Muskegon Rallies in Lansing (Jan. 18th, 2012)Living the Dream: My Life at […]

  2. Aimee Jo Trimpe says:

    Yes Monique….so important to limit our time with internet and other technologies that take us away from feeling what is really present within. I agree. Keep breathing, keep feeling and being your authentic self through the practice <3 I support you in it and all beings in going within to feel and heal <3 Love to you, Aimee Jo <3

  3. Anne says:

    I barely watch television anymore, but it’s still often difficult to slow down and quiet the mind. It takes commitment. It’s good to remember that it’s something we can choose, though. Always. Thank you for your good words, Monique.

  4. Lisa says:

    Great reminder! I needed to hear this now. Thank you Monique!

  5. Monte Berry says:

    Thank you Monique for this enlightening article! You shared many of my thoughts on how advertising high jacks our minds. Looking forward to more of your sharing! Thank you.

  6. swing4it says:

    Thanks Monique. I too left the marketing world for a more rewarding life. Keep it coming.

  7. Marcia says:

    Monique, thank you for the thoughts. It has been 11 years now since we removed TV from our home. I use the breathing the most in addition to daily exercise, when I am riding with a driver that is agitated at the traffic. thank you for your teaching. I am able to settle my mind with my yoga exercises.

  8. Toni Leigh says:

    Thank you Monique. Brilliant writing!

  9. peter says:

    MONIQUE IS THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Steve says:

    Classic wisdom. Thanks for this simple but important reminder, Monique. It's so easy to forget in the face of all the distractions: reclaim piece of mind(share), reclaim peace of mind. Please write more!!

  11. Melissa Crabtree says:

    thank you Monique!!

  12. James Nave says:


    Your excellent insights on releasing the mind from advertising reminded me of the BBC documentary, Century of Self (http://youtu.be/YjFL02NmBrc). It's built around Edward Bernays who was the father of public relations and Sigmund Freud's nephew. Bernays was the first person to show American corporations how they could "make people want things they didn't need by linking mass produced goods to their unconscious desires."

    You can be very sure that when you unplug and "draw your attention outside yourself" to the wind in the trees, the birds on the wing, the happy worms in the garden, you will you will be, simply put, saying prayer to the universe.

  13. hope says:

    great article, goddess! and a timely reminder. even with newer technology like dvr, where you can fast forward forward through advertisements (or maybe because of it), so many of the actual shows are like one big long commercial! although i still enjoy a few of my guilty pleasures, your article inspires me to be more conscious and to watch my breath more than the tv machine.

  14. Cathi says:

    So, we're not speaking of "share" in the sense of divvy up, allocate, or deal out elsewhere, but rather the portion of our mind's work that we actually own. The implication is that the more we are in posession of our thoughts, the more we claim control, and the more at peace we can be as individuals. And, after all, how can we be at peace with the world if we are not at peace within ourselves?

  15. dovalpage says:

    Gracias, Monique! An excellent article. Computers, phones, TVs… Medusa’s heads of the modern world. Uff!

  16. Summer says:

    Great article! Thanks for the reminder.

  17. Extremely well written Muffy. Being able to quiet my own mind took a great deal of practice. When I finally found the desired meditative clarity, I was relieved from the anxiety that had consumed most of my early adult years. TV like radio became easy to live without. I never knew who I was and what truely had value for me before I began turning off the media and quieting my mind enough to control my own thoughts. It’s a crucial part of true independence.

  18. @SvasthaYoga says:

    So astute, Nave. That mindfulness you speak of when observing and interacting with the natural word is both a prayer to the universe and an organic pharmacological for the nervous system, creating as we say in yoga and Ayurveda, a sattvic quality of mind.

    Ah, yes Bernays. Yoga clearly explains how the mind has unlimited unconscious desires which get triggered via the sensory organs. The ad and PR execs dialed into a compulsive and irrational tendency of the mind to always look for more, better, different. If more people took up classic yoga: mantra meditation consumerism would truly suffer.

  19. Kathy Jackman says:

    Very interesting and important for this day and age. Thanks, Monique!

  20. @SvasthaYoga says:

    There is an afterlife, right? Amazing how much happiness and richness there is when we move towards our authentic self.

  21. @SvasthaYoga says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Marcia. And congrats on removing the TV: time vaster! Keep breathing!

  22. @SvasthaYoga says:

    Gosh, I didn't even know about DVR having not watched TV in over two decades! Thanks for reading, Hope and for taking the time to comment.

  23. @SvasthaYoga says:

    Yes, yes, yes!!!! Namaskaram.

  24. SCandelario says:

    Excellent article! Taking into account the influence cell phone, texting, social media, ect .. has on teenagers these days. Thanks for the reminder to teach today's youth to simply take a moment to calm the senses and prevent over stimulation.

  25. Martha says:

    How true, how true. Thank you for this excellent article, reminding us of how we need to maintain peace within ourselves.

  26. Thank you, Monique, for sharing your wisdom with us! So helpful to be reminded.

  27. Sonja says:

    So good to be reminded about our nature! It is amazing how our world can pull us away from our inner selves. Its also amazing how easy we leave ourselves. However, we are always here! Thank you!

  28. Thank you Monique, your words bring light to nowadays confuse minds. It is very important that persons like you who have common sense, knowledge and clarity could express openly beautiful ideas and teach old techniques that could change our unhealthy way of life.
    You can help people to go in a better direction for the benefit of humanity.
    Congratulations for the wonderful work you are doing.!

  29. Elise O says:

    Nice article Monique. Trying so hard to calm my mental chatter. Tv is agreeably one thing to rid of my entertainment diet. I am trying to pick up a book instead of turning on the TV these days. I actually enjoy reading much more than mindless TV viewing.

  30. @SvasthaYoga says:

    Thank you for your kind words. I, too, used to be lost in the din of confusion…we all need mind training…it is the source of all of our problems.

  31. @SvasthaYoga says:

    Me too, Elise! I just finished Hampton Sides' "Blood and Thunder", about the epic life of Kit Carson and the expansion West. Brilliant biography. Now I'm reading about Amelia Earhart. Such an inspirational woman!

  32. Joanie Donnelly says:

    Spot on Monique!!
    It’s good to be reminded through the practice of classic yoga we can release the viruses that occupy our minds. Oh,how we humans pick up habitual patterns over the years,not very good ones at that,but can be redireced with your teachings and guidance. Keep up the good work!

  33. Adele Behe5r says:

    Excellent insight – keep those articles coming.


  34. Danny Beher says:

    I can't tell you how proud I am of you. This article only confirms that you have wonderful writing skills. The insight is invaluable. Good Job.


  35. Raquela says:

    Great article Monique, you are making me rethink here! Looking forward for your next one!

  36. Tammy says:

    Wonderful article and reminder! Look forward to more….

  37. Liz says:

    Beautifully said Monique!

  38. All in balance. All the best on your path.

  39. Tim McElhaney says:

    This is not just an interesting and enlightening article on the practice of yoga in a world of distractions -it is great writing! I'd like to see much more from this author..

  40. wylie says:

    i miss those great shows and simpler times of the 60's and 70's. didn't hurt that the population was half what it is now. in these more crowed and complex times withdrawing from the mainstream, or more proactively, seeking out alternative oasis of non homogenized america, and choosing how we spend our time is all we have. of course yoga is part of that. still hoping to get to one of your saturday classes. perhaps if my internet goes down. 😉

  41. Janet Grace Riehl says:

    You reveal more and more all the time of yourself and your wisdom–blissfully flavored with quirky humor. And now your writing road has taken you to the heart of your journey. Thanks for sharing.

  42. Julie Cortopassi says:

    I always appreciate reminders to “mind the mind.” Excellent piece, Monique! So happy to read such an articulate and engaging article! Thank you for promoting the peace cycle!

  43. CRM says:

    Well said – and thank you for the practical applications!

  44. D. Seltzer says:

    Witty, wise and inspiring. Thank you.

  45. aziza says:

    all true. I am so grateful for the technology that allows us accessibility (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessibility
    Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible.) to an increasing presence on the internet for meditation and connection with teachers that would otherwise not be available to us, who help us/ remind us to direct our focus inward, along with this site is http://www.winterfeastforthesoul.com…so the question of attaining even exists in the worlds of yoga.

  46. Kathleen says:

    Monique! YOU are the Goddess of all things FAB and your insights and tips are so needed in our world today! Thanks for sharing and I LOVE YOU and have been a fan for years! Can't wait to breathe some air in your home town soon! Blessings, K

  47. Virginia says:

    Thank you Monique. Yes, the ubiquitous commercialization of life; and let's not forget that this can
    also happen to "yoga" in this culture:another trendy commodity.

  48. @SvasthaYoga says:

    Wise words: the branding of yoga in modern times. Has yoga become just another trendy commodity? Another topic for a column! Thank you, Virginia.

  49. This my first time trying this, so I’m wondering what will happen.

  50. Sarah Cortopassi says:

    Thank you for this insightful article, Monique! I currently work in marketing and also suffer from the physical and mental stresses that you speak of. I'll need to start using the term "computerasana" — it is most definitely a real thing in my life! I find that my only relief comes from being faithful to my yoga practice, specifically the periods of mindful breathing that I try to incorporate each day. This article serves as a lovely reminder to do it more often!