This past Monday I went to an activity in the IGC called “Live-It: Knowing and Ways of Being Wise.” The first part of the session began with some words from the wise KP Hong of the Center of Religious and Spiritual Life. Man, KP is one deep dude. It literally took me like an extra minute to process every profound statement that he said. Take squares for example. KP told us a story of how the ancient mathematicians thought the world was a rational place filled with rational numbers, until they discovered that when you square the “rational sides” of a perfect square the hypotenuse length is an “irrational” number, or remainder <!–[if supportFields]> QUOTE <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>, or <!–[if supportFields]> QUOTE <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–>=<!–[if supportFields]> QUOTE <![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> He then related this to humans and our relationships with other people, and how our “remainders” are what makes us unique. Wow, I totally got that one. As a self-declared weirdo, I very much enjoy flaunting my eccentricities to the world, or I guess as KP would say, my “irrational remainders.” However, also like KP mentioned, it is often difficult to recognize the “irrational remainders” in other people. We tend to see ourselves as ever-changing and evolving human beings, but when we look at other people we see them as static and unchanging. We tend to categorize and alienate “the other,” instead of letting them permeate our being and engage in a symbiotic relationship in how we form who we are as a person (copyright KP Hong, 2010).
It’s good to be thoughtful about other people, and recognize that they are not static objects. This something I’ll really have to keep in mind this summer, especially given the type of work I’ll be doing. Qualitative research involves the “study” of “human subjects.” But in carrying out interviews and conducting research I have to realize that the “subjects” I am studying are fellow human beings just like myself. Not only are they migrant farm workers, but they are also sons, daughters, parents, immigrants, friends, community leaders, and so forth. So it’s important to keep in mind the potential effects my research could have on their lives even after my time in Delano is done. Come to think of it, maybe this is why those IRB forms I had fill out were so freaking hard…But anywho, I really hope this summer to allow myself to be like a sponge and absorb all the new experiences I’ll be going through while working with the United Farm Workers. I hope to let the stories of the migrant farm workers I’ll be interviewing and collaborating with all summer permeate my being and leave a lasting impression that affects who I am as a person.
Part two of the “Knowing and Ways of Being Wise” session was led by Tommy Woon, our good old friend from the Department of Multicultural Life, who lead us through a somatic inquiry meditation exercise in which we had to focus on the things that made us happy and also some things that made us uncomfortable, and note how our body responded. Well, I hadn’t had that much experience in the meditation arena before, so this was a very interesting and beneficial experience, and I learned a lot of things about myself. For starters, I learned that I really really like pistachio ice cream. I also learned that when I think about “happy thoughts” I can’t really feel my legs and it feels like I’m floating. This was quite a sensational experience because I run track, which basically means my legs are sore and tired all the time. So that was cool. I also learned that when I think about uncomfortable situations, my arms tend to tense up and my legs start to feel heavy again. Overall, I think this was a good exercise in learning to recognize how our bodies physically respond to our psychological emotions. This summer I’ll try incorporating some meditation practices into my daily routine not only to relieve stress and remain focused, but also to channel positive vibes in my mind and body when I encounter challenging or uncomfortable situations.