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The Philosophy of Picking Locks (& Other Things Related to Internal Movement) April 26, 2021

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone who is observing the month of Ramadan. “Happy Ridván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” Many blessings, also, to those who are celebrating Chaitra Purnima (Tithi) / Hanuman Jayanti (and the Pink Super Moon), as well as those who are Counting the Omer.

[You can request an audio recording of today’s 75-minute Common Ground Meditation Center practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

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“’My main point today is that usually one gets what one expects, but very rarely in the way one expected it.’”


– quoted from a draft of Charles Richter’s 1970 retirement speech, as printed in the Appendix of Richter’s Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man by Susan Elizabeth Hough

Over the last month (or so) I have developed a new guilty pleasure: watching the Lock Picking Lawyer’s YouTube videos. To be completely transparent, I will admit that I have known people who spent their down time at work picking locks from the “lost and found” (or locks that had to break, because the owner locked their self out). I will also admit that I found it an odd and eyebrow raising hobby – especially when they did it in full view of the very people who relied on locks for security. However, my previous opinions haven’t stopped me from getting hooked by these videos, starting with the first one I watched (which I will link at the end of this post).

The first video was the Lock Picking Lawyer’s annual April 1st video, which is slightly different from his regular offering (in that it is a joke); but it contains some of the same elements that are, frankly speaking, compelling and addictive. First, the videos are witty, logical, informative, and low-key ASMR. (ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and is used to describe content that provides a calming experience for the brain and spine; what some people call a “brain massage.”) Second, the videos are philosophical on several different levels and reinforce some critical elements of our physical practice of yoga.

“Philosophy is like trying to open a safe with a combination lock: each little adjustment of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place does the door open.”


– Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher

Born in Vienna, Austria today in 1889, Dr. Ludwig Wittgenstein was part of one of the richest families in Europe and (although he was the youngest of nine) he inherited his father’s fortune at the age of 24. Many people associate great wealth with great ease and comfort, but none of that wealth prevented Dr. Wittgenstein from suffering severe depression, contemplating suicide, or losing three of his brothers to mental health issues. He made anonymous donations to artists and writers (including Ranier Maria Rilke) and then ended up giving his entire fortune to his brothers and sisters. Throughout his lifetime, he worked in several different areas in an attempt to find some ease this suffering, but he ultimately said that philosophy saved him and was “the only work that gave me real satisfaction.” His work in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of the mind, and the philosophy of language is recognized as some of the most important works of philosophy of the twentieth century.

As I have previously mentioned (specifically in last year’s blog post on this date), “The word philosophy comes to us from Greek, by way of Latin, Old French, and Middle English, from a word that means “love of wisdom.” It is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, thought, reality, and existence. It provides a way to think about and understand the world, the universe, and everything. As stated in Wikipedia, it “is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.” The most basic question being, “Why?” which spirals out as:

  • Who/What are you?
  • Why do you exist?
  • Where does the world come from? / Why does the world exist?

The philosophy of yoga addresses all of these questions, and the follow-up questions (like, “Why do we/I/other people do the things we/I/they do?” and “How do I find balance in my life/relationships/pose?”). Yoga addresses philosophical questions even when someone only practices the physical practice, because, ultimately, the physical practice is a container in which we can consider these questions.”

And, one of the questions that we address – especially through the physical practice – is the question of security/stability and comfort/ease. Many commentaries on Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtras (in particular, commentary related to YS 2.46 – 49) point out that “stability and comfort go hand in hand.” We see this on and off the mat. There is a bit of a dichotomy, however, between what we think will bring us security/stability and comfort/ease versus what actually gives us those feelings. We could, for instance, have all the wealth of Ludwig Wittgenstein and, just as he did, suffer greatly.

One way people with stuff suffer is when they don’t feel their stuff is secure. For instance, consider the uncomfortable feeling some people have when they think they have forgotten to lock their front door after leaving home. Since the emotional (fear) response is connected to the perception of a threat, the feeling that they may have left the door unlocked is similar to returning home and finding the door wide open. Although the latter may be, understandably, more intense and acute – and combined that the fear that someone with nefarious intentions is inside – both sensations can be eliminated if we are secure in the knowledge that the door is locked (maybe because we checked before we left) and that the door is closed and locked upon our return.

What becomes very clear after a watching a few of the videos from the Locking Picking Lawyer is that in most cases the locks are “easily” picked. On one level, they provide a deterrent, but – more importantly – they are manifested maya (“illusion”). And, philosophically speaking, because they can be opened by someone you may not want to open them the lock and the closed door only give us the illusion of security – and that illusion (or perception) is what gives us the feeling of ease/comfort.

One of the things I appreciate about the Locking Picking Lawyer’s content is that while he readily “picks” apart the illusion, he also provides information that can make us better consumers. In being better informed – about the reality of locks – we make better decisions and, also, may experience more stable comfort and ease. Remember, in the Eastern philosophies, like Yoga and Buddhism, suffering comes from attachment and the end of suffering comes from the practice of non-attachment. No one wants someone to steal or mess with their stuff – that’s why people lock their stuff up! However, letting go of the illusion of the lock (and key or combination) can alleviate some suffering. Letting go can not only alleviate mental and emotional suffering, it can be one of the keys to unlocking physical suffering.

“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.”


– Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosopher

I don’t know much about the Locking Picking Lawyer (other than the obvious and the fact that he’s married to Mrs. Lock Picking Lawyer, who apparently has no interest in picking locks). However, I definitely appreciate that his videos (unintentionally) reinforce the following critical elements which are directly applicable to our physical practice of yoga:

  • You need the right tools.
  • You can access almost anything with the right skills/knowledge.
  • You have to start with stability (i.e., secure what you’re accessing the way you would access it “in the wild”).
  • It’s important to access the core.
  • Take your time and go by the numbers / step by step.
  • It’s important to listen (and pay attention to what’s “clicking” and “binding”).
  • More knowledge comes from the inside than the outside.
  • Sometimes you have to turn things around.
  • Never underestimate the power of a good wiggle/jiggle.
  • It’s important to have a sense of humor.

“The most remarkable feature about the magnitude scale was that it worked at all and that it could be extended on a worldwide basis. It was originally envisaged as a rather rough-and-ready procedure by which we could grade earthquakes. We would have been happy if we could have assigned just three categories, large, medium, and small; the point is, we wanted to avoid personal judgments. It actually turned out to be quite a finely tuned scale.”


– quoted from the Earthquake Information Bulletin (January- February 1980, Volume 12, Number 1) article, “Charles F. Richter – An Interview” by Henry Spall, U. S. Geological Survey, Reston, Va. (regarding the scale Mr. Richter developed with Beno Gutenberg

With regard to those last two points, today is also the anniversary of the births of the seismologist and physicist Charles Richter (b. 1900, Overpeck, Ohio) and the award-winning Carol Burnett (b. 1933, San Antonio, Texas). Mr. Richter, along with Beno Gutenberg, developed the Richter Magnitude Scale in 1935. Prior to their creation, shocks were measured based The Mercalli intensity scale, which was developed by the Italian priest Giuseppe Mercalli and used Roman numerals (I to XII) to rate shocks based on how buildings and people were affected. The Richter-Gutenberg collaboration was designed to measure displacement in a non-subjective manner and the idea of using “magnitude” came from Mr. Richter’s interest in astronomy. (There’s a good possibility that if he were alive today he would spend some part of this evening and the next checking out the “Super” Pink Moon.) In addition to being remembered for his knowledge and ingenuity, Charles Richter is remembered as being a little prickly on the outside, but warm on the inside and for having a sense of humor – although he didn’t often laugh at himself.

Maybe Carol Burnett, one of the funniest people on the face of the Earth, could have helped Charles Richter laugh at the fact that a man who wasn’t planning to become a seismologist became synonymous with seismology. She has won 6 Primetime Emmy Awards (out of 23 nominations); 7 Golden Globe Awards (out of 18 nominations); 3 Tony Awards; and 3 Grammy Awards. An actress, comedian, singer, and writer, she has also received everything from 2 Peabody Awards to a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Life Achievement Award; a Presidential Medal of Freedom; and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. She was even awarded the very first Golden Globes Carol Burnett Lifetime Achievement Award (for Television) and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But, before all of that, she endured a lot of suffering as a child because of the instability of her first family – specifically her parents, who were alcoholics – and then suffered as an adult when her oldest child suffered from drug addiction (and then died of pneumonia at the age of 39).

A natural born performer and, even before she “went into show business,” Carol Burnett sang, created characters, and developed the imagination that would lead her to a career that has spanned 7 decades. One of the things that “saved” her from a life of complete misery and insecurity was her grandmother Mabel – who not only raised her when her parents moved to Hollywood, but also regularly took her to the movies. As a secret “I love you” to her grandmother, Ms. Burnett would tug on her left ear at the end of every episode of The Carol Burnett Show.

“The first time someone said, ‘What are your measurements?’ I answered, ’37, 24, 38 – but not necessarily in that order.’”


– Carol Burnett, comedian

There is no playlist for the Common Ground practice.

Unlock Your Generosity & Kiss My Asana!!

Yes, yes, it’s that time again! The 8th Annual Kiss My Asana yogathon benefits Mind Body Solutions, which was founded by Matthew Sanford to help those who have experienced trauma, loss, and disability find new ways to live by integrating both mind and body. Known for their adaptive yoga classes, MBS provides “traditional yoga” classes, workshops, and outreach programs. They also train yoga teachers and offer highly specialized training for health care professionals. This year’s yogathon is only a week long! Seven days, starting yesterday (Saturday), to do yoga, share yoga, and help others. By participating in the Kiss My Asana yogathon you join a global movement, but in a personal way. In other words, you practice yoga… for 7 days. And you can start today!!

The yogathon raises resources and awareness. So, my goal this year is to post some extended prāņāyāma practices and to raise $400 for Mind Body Solutions. You can do yoga starting today. You can share yoga be inviting a friend to one of my classes or by forwarding one of the blog posts. You can help others by donating or, if you are not able to donate, come to class Saturday – Wednesday (or request a class you can do on your own) and practice the story poses on Thursday and Friday so that I can make a donation on your behalf.

You can add 5 minutes of yoga (or meditation) to your day; you can learn something new about your practice; or even teach a pose to someone close to you – or even to one of your Master Teachers/Precious Jewels. You can also add an extra wiggle to your day.

Lock Picking Lawyer Challenges Mrs. Lock Picking Lawyer



If you are thinking about suicide, worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, you can call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also call the TALK line if you are struggling with addiction or involved in an abusive relationship. The Lifeline network is free, confidential, and available to all 24/7. YOU CAN TALK ABOUT ANYTHING. 


### “That’s All I Have for You Today.” ~LPL ###