During my last visit to the Shambala Meditation Center, I was instructed on the importance of “good head and shoulders.” Having good upright shoulders entails proper posture while practicing sitting meditation. In doing so, the implication of proper sitting is confidence and becoming more comfortable in ones own skin. Similar themes are found within Richard Hague's poem, “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” Gary Gildner's poem, ''First Practice,” Bharati Mukherjee's, A Father, and Stephanie Shapiro's article, “Serving Up Hope; Noted Chef Galen Sampson Offers Help For Troubled Lives By Teaching Culinary Skills.” These works all revolve around issues of conformity and allow the reader to question there own use of “head and shoulders.”
Shambala often refers to it's students as warriors. However this is not warriors in the common sense, but rather warriors of virtue and peace. They are also warriors because they take their own path in life, are strong willed, and resist conforming to ideologies that they do not agree with. Richard Hague also objects conformity in his poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT.” In this poem he urges his reader to forget everything that society has engrained in them in order to live life to the fullest, and on impulse. In Gary Gildner's poem, “First Practice,” society is represented as a coach who forces the children to hate and fight each other. This symbolizes the notion of a “dog eat dog world” and “kill or be killed” mentality. This gruesome scenario further demonstrates the dangers of conforming to all of the ideologies of contemporary society. These works argue that through absolute conformity, individuality-and good head and shoulders-becomes lost.
Good posture while meditating is supposed to allow the student to eventually embrace and enjoy their individuality. However with so many various constraints of society, tradition, and culture, this is no easy task. In Bharati Mukherjee's A Father, a man finds himself split between two worlds and two cultures. In attempting to find a common ground between the ideologies of India and America, he neglected his own set of moral codes; this ultimately led him to go insane and murder his grandchild. However conforming to society is certainly not always a bad thing. For instance in Stephanie Shapiro's article, “Serving Up Hope; Noted Chef Galen Sampson Offers Help For Troubled Lives By Teaching Culinary Skills,” past drug addicts and convicts a helped regain normalcy through the eyes of society. Because they completed rejected the ideologies of society, these individuals found themselves in prison or slaves to addiction. This article proves that not all demands of society are inherently bad for the individual.
These works further prove the importance of good head and shoulders. While the demands of society may be great, it is important to not accept all of them without hesitation. Likewise, not all ideologies are bad, and this is yet another reason not to diregard all of the demands of society. Through mediation and good head and shoulders, a person is supposed to find their own individuality and freedom to chose what ideleologies work best for them.