An Open Letter to Social Mavens and Shivanauts




The Dance of Shiva Starter Kit promises (and delivers) “three cool things that happen in your brain/body when you do Dance of Shiva… Cool Thing #1:  Hot buttered epiphanies.”  After a week’s practice, I had my first big, buttery breakthrough.  It came to me as this Body-Metaphor:



(That’s Andrey Lappa, doing Level 1 horizontals.  The metaphors apply to verticals, too.)




H1 & V1 = Reach, Gather

H2 & V2 = Internalize, Process, Create

H3 & V3 = Externalize, Offer, Give

H4 & V4 = Open, Embrace



While moving through the arm positions early this morning, I clearly and suddenly understood that I am most at ease with H2 and V2.  In a social media context, and in life in general, I’m most happy doin’ contemplative, solitary stuff.


But having just “met” so many smart, funny, witty, growth-oriented people yesterday (thanks, again, Havi!) I really wanted to be all H3, V3, H4 and V4… making lots of tweets and blog comments, but you know what?  I’m just not highly social.  There.  I said it.  (Why is it so hard to admit that?  Wait.  The hard part just passed… and now I feel like I just put down a super-heavy suitcase… that had no wheels… and that I had been carrying far too long.)  That was nice, actually.  Let me do it once more, just to get at some of those times I ever tried to be anything other than what I really am.  I am not highly social.  I like naps.  I actually prefer naps to small-talk.  Does that make me sound uninteresting or depressed?  How about rested.  And real.  C’mon, I know there are tons of chronic-nappers out there… just too embarassed to admit it.  Four minutes ago, I was too.  But now I can’t seem to stop confessing all kinds of…


Wait.  I do have a point here.  Let me make it.


Please know, I am not a misanthrope.  And most people who know me would say I have a very pleasant personality.  But me trying to be Miss Chatty Cathy (online or offline) is just plain fraudulent.  The question is this:  How do I build and enjoy community with kindred folks, without violating my dominant H2, V2 nature?  Guess what answer I got?  I’m so excited about this… Currently, my practice still consists of both arms doing the movements simultaneously, but I’m curious to see what happens to my brain when — with an intention set for social balance — one arm stays in the introspective “2” position, while the other arm does the extroverted 1, 3 and 4 positions?  Again, with an intention set to balance my cave-dwelling tendencies.


We’ll see what happens.  In the meantime, I wanted to check-in with my fellow Shivanauts — many of whom are also Social Mavens — and let you know that my (low) frequency of tweets and comments is not indicative of my (high) affection for you.  This is my first step in reconciling my monkish ways with social media.  Because I really do want to reconcile the two.  You know, grow.


And this hopscotch for my brain is already doing great things to help me along. :-)


Curious to see what it could do for you?

   Find out now.

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15 Responses to “An Open Letter to Social Mavens and Shivanauts”

  1. Eileen Says:

    Oh man, I am sooo with you on the introvert thing! People seem to go nicer on me when I just confess it, too :)

    I didn’t know what the positions themselves represented, in fact it never even occurred to me to think of it that way! Since I mostly just feel like I am flailing about in my living room with no idea what I’m doing, it’s so cool to read someone else’s take. Thanks for writing this!

  2. Erika Harris Says:

    @Eileen – Thanks so much for your visit and comment! The metaphors are just something that came to me during practice. A completely unofficial a-ha moment. Oh yeah, and the metaphors didn’t stop my flailing either. LOL.

  3. Marissa Says:

    Oh, Erika, my estimation of you as “awwwwwesome” just got even bigger. I was actually nodding vigorously at my computer screen while I was reading this post. I completely understand, right down to the naps vs. small talk!

    Are you familiar with Danielle Laporte, by any chance? She once used the phrase, “Monk envy” to describe her urge to be in a big, sacred isolated space–but with a great speaker system for her music–and I was all, “YES! Monk envy!” So your mention of “monkish” ways made me think that you’d probably totally “get” her too. (She’s on Twitter as @whitehottruth, and online at

    Loved the post. LOVED. Introverts unite! :)

  4. Erika Harris Says:

    @Marissa – We were separated at birth. I’m sure of it. :-) Thanks for receiving this post so warmly. I felt a lil’ vulnerable with it, and your assurance means a lot. Sister. ;-)

    I’m now following Danielle on Twitter, and I thank you for letting me know about her. I didn’t before. Checked out her site and, yes, I do get her, and like what she gives.

    Wonder twins… activate!!

  5. Diane Whiddon-Brown Says:

    Monk envy! This is so great. I’m right here with you. I’m a total introvert, too. Twitter is hard for me. I feel like there’s such pressure to talk, when most of the time I just lurk there. (Which is weird, because I think that completely misses the point, but I’m a much happier lurker!)

    I’ve started to embrace blog commenting, though. I’ve found that I get a lot out of telling people when they reach me, or say something that inspires or touches me (like this post!) because it feels like I’m giving back to me, too. But I have to make it a concerted effort because it just doesn’t come easily for me.

    And the best thing about all my lovely online friends? Being able to unplug when I’m overloaded! They’re all here waiting for me when I get back. :) Thanks for the post. Loved it.

  6. Maryann Devine Says:

    Wow, Erika, and hi!

    It seems like you’ve made a social space for introverts here, so thank you!

    I, too, am a total introvert with monk envy. I work from home all day alone, and sometimes that’s not enough alone time for me! I have to ask my husband to give me some space on the weekends!

    For me, social media doesn’t represent a contradiction. I am more comfortable expressing myself in writing, and interactions aren’t necessarily taking place in real time. So I can respond to a comment when I’m up to it, rather than at the moment it’s posted. And, unlike a face-to-face conversation, I can just walk away from my laptop when I’ve had enough!

  7. Erika Harris Says:

    @Diane & @Maryann – Beloved Monk Envy Enthusiasts, thanks for sharing your insights here… and for giving a really helpful reminder: Yes, we can unplug and walk away whenever we need to. We can respond at a time that feels good to do so. And we can certainly, silently, lurk if we choose. All these things make me feel much less anxious about not being a power-tweeter/commenter. I rarely compare myself to others, so I’m not sure why I did it with social media… maybe because SM has felt a little contrary to my nature and I’m trying to integrate the best parts of it. And the best parts of SM really are great, as they are bringing some very amazing people — like you all — across my path. I’m so grateful for that.

  8. Isabel Joely Black Says:

    Wow! I went hunting along the Dance of Shiva tag line and find all my favourite people are already here.

    I have just discovered Dance of Shiva and I love it! These are incredible revelations, aren’t they? And they happen so easily.

  9. lifeblazing Says:

    Isabel. YES! And YAY! I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying what might very well be the best brain-thing ever…

    …second only to orgasm, perhaps :-)

    I’m continually amazed at how the practice, and I, just keep morphing with it. In it. Because of it?

  10. leah Says:

    fellow introvert and shivanaught here, stopping in to say, “hello! and I can relate!!”

  11. Danielle Says:

    Just stopping in to say “hi” and thanks for giving props to us introverts!

    And, yes. I have monk envy! I love that! :)

  12. lifeblazing Says:

    @ Leah & @Danielle – You guys are the best! Thanks for stopping by, and sharing some shiva-monk-introvert luv. XOXO

  13. Sari O. Says:


    “H1 & V1 = Reach, Gather
    H2 & V2 = Internalize, Process, Create
    H3 & V3 = Externalize, Offer, Give
    H4 & V4 = Open, Embrace”

    This is awesomeness. A fellow Shivanaut myself, this makes sense, and this verbalisation just took it to a whole different level for me. I feel like jumping up right now and doing a sequence with this in mind. Sorry for the incoherence – I think I just had my first Shiva Nata -related epiphany that didn’t involve actually _doing_ Shiva Nata. :)

    This got me wondering if the horizontals and verticals have different ‘flavors’ (for the lack of a better word) in that approach – and whether doing level 2 (one hand horizontal, the other vertical) and further would mix those flavors to create some interesting combinations. Hmmm… must look into this.

    As for the introverted thing, I was born and raised in a culture where nodding silently in a group of five people for five minutes is considered small talk. To say I’m a bit of a lurker in the whole social media scene would be an understatement. :) I’m totally with you here. Thank you for this post.

  14. Emmanuelle Archer Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this metaphor, Erika.
    It really resonates with me, especially H3 & V3- Externalise, offer, give. Exactly! Also, release, give back, make space… it is a very expansive movement to me.

    I also love the way you weave an intention into your sequence. This is something that I would like to start doing too. However, after only a week of practice, my brain and arms are too busy tying themselves into knots to consciously hold any kind of intention yet!

    It is great to connect with fellow Shivanauts – hi everyone! :D

  15. Erika Harris Says:

    @Sari – You were soooo coherent… and just plain wonderful for not only getting the weird metaphor, but adding to it. Mixed flavors. Like rosemary-mint. Can’t wait to tap into those blended results. P.S. This body-metaphor actually came to me while I was *in bed.* Come to think of it, most of my brain-blasts come outside of/after practice. Like simmered tea. Mmmm, rosemary-mint tea.

    @Emmanuelle – Hind-sight on this is interesting. I wrote this post 7 weeks ago, and in that time I have seen major shifts and leaps. The intention I set for greater social balance is emerging. In actuality! I wonder if the reverse would work: someone who is predisposed toward extroversion/externalization balancing themselves with more mindful H2s and V2s. OMG, exploring brain and behavior like this is giving me an almost uncontainable head-rush. Thanks for dancing with me!

    @Everyone – Again, I can’t say how great it is to be idiosyncratic *and* rightly understood? Dignifying. Delicious. Divine.

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