So in meditation class, we learned a technique to help us meditate on our “mental chatter” without needing to focus on the breath. Instead, we ask meta questions about the chatter without getting sucked into the content. Whose voice is it? What is the tone of the voice? What is its rhythm, its pacing, etc.?

This is great for mindful meditation, but I’m finding that it’s also an excellent approach to those binary debates we always come across where it’s easy to summarize each side, the speakers for each side are emotionally involved and you have the sense that people are focusing too much on surface details.

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Take for example, a pretty old online debate about a series of print yoga ads featuring a well lit, naked-save-her-be-socked-feet yoga teacher in challenging balancing poses. I could start thinking about the content of the arguments and opinions presented in reaction to them, but before considering things like whether the ads are artistic/are in poor taste or if this particular teacher is a sell out/an inspiration, I’m asking, whose voice is this?

In this case, I’m thinking about the voice of the ad itself which sounds to me like a voice that’s selling me a pair of socks. It’s not new in tone, at least not in our society where on my commute to work, I probably see two dozen other sexy/artistic ads with pretty women – clothed or naked – selling me all manner of goods. What about its rhythm, its energy, its force? This voice, as ads often do, tries to jam itself into my visual field and shout louder than all the other advertising voices competing for my attention. It’s basically a familiar voice we all know that’s got something to sell.

So the questions for me are things like, How strong is this advertising voice? How much does it represent yoga to others – and to ourselves? And what are the qualities of the voices that have responded?