What Do You See When You Look At This Image?

Take a look at the above image. Quick, tell me what you see?

I used that image on a post the other day. Somebody wrote somewhere (maybe they tweeted it, maybe they wrote on “my wall”. I don’t know. Somewhere.) – they wrote, “How come you have this half-naked girl on this post. I’m unsubscribing.”

BAM! He totally dissed me. And now I lost him as a reader. Please come back and read me and I’ll make it up to you. I promise. I’ll do anything. And he made it public. He didn’t simply stop reading me. He didn’t email me. He wrote it in some social media forum for everyone to see that he was going to stop reading me.


And wait a second.

What half naked girl?

I look at this picture and see a woman at the height of physical achievement. Imagine this: bury your hands in the sand (well, first go to an ocean), put your left foot behind your right ear, and get your left leg to shoot out from your right side. Now lift yourself up so only your buried hands are touching the planet Earth. Hold in that position.

Yeah, its easy, right? Like, you and I can do that no problem.

So this guy sees a “half-naked girl” and decides I’m never ever going to be worth reading again. I see a person who can do something physically with her body that I will never ever be able to do no matter how much I try (and after two trips to India, and hundreds of hours of trying to keep pace with Claudia at yoga I can say I’ve tried and will continue to try and I will NEVER be able to do what this woman is doing).

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We all wear glasses. The glasses are crystal clear when we are born. A flower is a flower. Food is food. Mommy is mommy. But then people beat us, betray us, love us, make fun of us, steal from us, hurt us, kiss us, punch us, and the glasses get blurry from all the mud slung at us. So we ask, "what's out there?" And the government tells us, our friends, our colleagues, bosses, etc.

Now we are looking at things with our new glasses. These glasses are clouded with the anger, the fear, and the anxiety from everything that has happened to us. What do you see in the above picture? Do you see someone who can achieve things you want to achieve? Do you see inspiration that you aspire to be? Or are your glasses blurry. Filled with your insecurities. What you see has nothing to do with the image. It has ONLY to do with the prescription on your glasses. And how good you are at keeping those glasses clean.

I will be dead honest. I see a girl who is about 90% naked. I see someone who would probably reject me if I were single (fortunately I’ve met my own yoga goddess). So perhaps this is the only way I could “use” this woman’s body was by picking her for this post. I picked that image, in fact, because of the pageviews I knew it would get me (people click on pretty girls. It’s just a fact. And since I like more people to read my stuff than less, I will include a picture of a pretty girl when I can).

But if I wanted just a pretty girl I could’ve picked any of the 10 billion pretty girl images on the Internet. So I guess I also picked this image because she is doing something amazing. And I would love to do something amazing. In my own insecurity I feel I’ve hardly ever done something amazing in my life.

Sometimes it’s good to be content with what you have, there’s no need for more skills, more amazement: just be happy with right now.

But, I can’t help it. Sometimes I want to be as incredible and as beautiful and as inspirational as this girl. And I’m not. So to take this image and have it lend its superpowers to my post, well, then maybe I can be just a tiny bit amazing. And also maybe I can get you to click and read me.

My glasses are blurry and cloudy. Every day I scrub them, every day I try to clean them of their dirt. But perhaps most important, if I could do anything in life before I die, I hope I can truly be successful - not only in cleaning my glasses but simply taking them off and seeing myself and the world for what they truly are.

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  • SOF

    Great post – I tend to think of the spiritual aspect of my daily practice as “cleaning off my glasses.” It is not meant to establish or reinforce a particular ideology/perspective but to rid myself of the biases others are trying to imprint upon me.

  • KayBee

    It is awesome! I put it up as my wallpaper, I tweeted it and fb’d it. It is SUCH an inspiration! THANK YOU!

  • Remark

    Keep up the great writing , James

  • KC

    Huh, I was just looking at the boat, now I see what you were getting at in that post.

  • Ted

    Is that a boat on the horizon, just off her left knee? Didn’t see that when I saw the image the first time! Guess my glasses hid it. Your blog has helped me realize how clouded my glasses were. Thanks though, am beginning to learn to scrub them every day.

  • Some days I have some seriously cloudy glasses. Great analogy. I’ll admit to a bit of that resentfulness more than I’d like to.

  • James, what you write is sometimes incredible and beautiful and inspirational. That’s pretty much doing something like what this girl is doing, except what you do is intangible while what she does is physical.

  • bluestarr

    I saw beautiful water scenery w/a very flexible (aka athletic) young woman.

  • Asgeir Bjornsson

    I noticed the reflection in the sand – a picture of a savage with a beard.

  • Takeshi Young

    Lol, it’s a picture of a girl doing yoga at the BEACH. What did the guys expect the girl to be wearing, a burka?

  • lose him. you don’t need people like that.

  • But why do we have to attach tangible things to success, and when we do, we know that such things can disappear at any moment in our lives for any reason, like getting old, or a financial crisis or divorce for example… aren’t we missing the point in what success really is.

    And if we are not missing the point, since we always attach happiness with success or the other way around, it just seems like an unbalanced equation somehow!

  • Kris

    Do you really feel you have done nothing amazing in life? I think your standard of amazing is too high. Wow just you saying that you have done nothing amazing is something amazing. Making millions and then losing millions, creating companies, meeting, knowing, and working with some of the most talented people on earth, seeing the most wonderful places, marrying your dream girl, awesome healthy kids. Ya, it’s almost like you spent your life starring at an assembly line.

    Anyway, I saw the same thing you did. Someone really flexible doing something I will likely only dream of doing. No anger or jealously but inspired knowing its possible.

  • seriously, this photo shows no breasts, no belly, no pelvis, no ass.. yet of course you used it to get eyeballs. just the presence of a bit of skin is enough. so what’s the big deal? even the buddha taught in the language used by the public to make the dharma accessible. keep going, james. we’re still here.

    • Funny! If that’s all it takes to get this good at yoga…

  • The real question here is: why must we seek approval even from people we despize…

  • Tom Gray

    I see 6 months of traction and about 18 months of physical therapy. But that’s just me.

  • mikeyhell

    What do I see? I see the same picture that you posted last week and I remembered, again, why I quit my yoga practice after years of dedication.

  • gonzalo gandia

    I think I’ve told you this in the past: you invited in all these religious fundamentalists with your “God/visitor/spirituality” posts the last few months. Now, you’re suffering the consequences. That person is not worth anyone’s time, except for the few that see him on Sunday mornings…

  • Lisbeth

    When I saw the picture all I could think was “My God to have that physical power and control” *shrugs* but hey the comedian Katt Williams said best “haters have to hate, its their job”

  • Honest

    I see a woman I’d love to . of

  • I’m here only because of the pictures ;-)

  • Stewart

    I see a lot of effort that has gone into doing something effortlessly…

  • You’re amazing, already! You write well, and inspire me to think. Good job, although you might be a tad sexist? Not that it’s a bad thing. I like pretty pictures.

  • Jill

    Yes, the ancient puritan attitude of “shame.” He “shamed” you. I was “shamed” as a child who was innocent and curious about the other sex, to the point that I attempted to hide my sexiness (an impossible feat) which held me back physically and emotionally. puritan attitude needs to go away forever. Dis him and be yourself.

    When I looked at the picture my only thought was the girl was in a knot, similar to the way I play with a paper clip at work or a straw at a restaurant, I tie them up in a knot. A fidget I guess.

  • Mr. Lucky


    Are you the same effing dolt that predicted DOW 20,000? Just curious.

  • honest_challenge

    James, I love your stuff, you’re a friend, I’ll always read you, but you certainly have used some photos of very attractive women showing a fair bit of skin recently, women that reflect the extremes of modern standards of beauty and are likely exceptions to what’s possible for most women…understandably these women have worked hard for their bodies, but they play into the popular culture of beauty and the challenges about female self-images…aren’t you exploiting that standard, albeit for a cause you believe is noble?

  • Simon

    All I could think about was what type of boat and whether it was a dive boat and where to I book… I mean half–naked yoga chicks are a dime a dozen but good dive charters?
    each to their own passions right?

  • Fabian LaMonde

    trust me, she is more than 90% naked taking into account full surface area. Plus the first thing i thought of was ouch

  • Fabian LaMonde

    P.S i worked in the porn industry for 8 years, and after readin your blog, left last year, got a job, they crapped out at the beginning of the year, might be getting another this week , fingers crossed. also started a book (well employed a writer) , started up 1 money making web site, doing some consultancy. Might even start enjoying stuff soon , so thank you :)

    still can beat my son at chess though and have never thrown a game, haha

  • I see a genetically gifted woman who would be fun to be with.

  • Louise

    Ah – “A New Pair of Glasses” by Chuck C….. I forget his last name.

  • Shiela Cote

    I love this photo! Keep up the excellence!

  • Tamara Pitelen

    I see what you see James, a woman doing something absolutely physically amazing that I would like to be able to do as well… and yes, she inspires me to try. Yay that girl!

  • Test

    The question is, would you post the same picture if a male was in the same position.

  • You inspire a lot of us. I think that’s pretty amazing : )

  • I see a stupid woman trying to twist her mortal body

  • Max Blacks

    At first glance I saw Photoshop.
    At second glance I saw her right leg appear to be dislocated.
    At third glance I saw her left foot poking over her right ear.
    At fourth glance I was trying to figure out it that is a ship, the sun or the moon on the horizon.
    I then thought why do people do this to their body, is it natural and something we should all be doing, then is it something we can all do and back again to if so why.

    The fact she is in a bikini was simply taken for granted as she is clearly on a warm if not hot beach. Offence is only ever found in the offended.

    • Marco

      Offence is only ever found in the offended, you are right, this is exactly my thought. I may go further and say that when the sage points at the moon, all that the idiot sees is the finger; but it would be a stretch to insult the unknown reader. Maybe he’s from St. Cloud, Minnesota; and a half naked girl is all he can see.

  • mike

    the girl of my dreams.

  • Ka

    James, I love your blog and have been reading it for over a year, but you do seem to use unneccesary pictures of semi naked women quite often. Your writing is so inspirational that I don’t think you need these gratuitous images to attract more readers. If the only thing enticing these people (men, specifically) to read your posts are these images of women, are those the type of readers that you really want? People who truly appreciate your writing don’t need sexy images to be encouraged to read what you have to say. Plus, it does make you come across as a bit sexist.

  • Wow – I went to a seminar by the Landmark Forum and they used this exact example about looking at life through the perspective of our own lenses instead of seeing things for how they truly are. Great post. I work on cleaning my glasses every day, too :)

  • kegibbons3301

    I see an amazing, effortless yoga pose on the beach. It’s a body in motion. They are everywhere and sometimes naked.

  • sherryosborne

    What I see, mostly, is a string of comments talking about the girl in the picture like she’s something abstract and not an actual real person. I know who she is and yes she’s beautiful on the outside, unbelievably beautiful. Yes, she can do amazing things with her body, things that not everyone can do.

    But more importantly, she’s unbelievably beautiful on the inside, a truly wonderful person, and she does amazing things beyond just throwing her legs around into intricate yoga poses.

    • sherryosborne

      (Also, she’s not just “that girl in the picture” – she has a name. Her name is Dashama and if you’re looking for inspiration, you can google her and find her articles, videos, tutorials, and training retreats. Dashama is the one who first inspired me to get into yoga in the first place, and she helped me change my life. You can’t get much more inspirational than that. :)

      • Andrew Murphy

        Hey thanks I just signed up for Dashama’s free intro videos. Did the first lesson this morning, hard stuff but good.

  • RickB

    James, the only reason I come to your site every day is because of the pictures of half-naked girls. Then I figure, what the heck, I might as well read the post. And the comments. And maybe think about what you’re saying.
    No, no, no! The only reason I’m here is for the pictures.

  • James, when I saw that image I saw it as an opportunity for you to discover who your TRUE readership was. And by the way, I’m still reading (not that it matters much in the big scheme of things).

    I loved the tie – in with how people see the world differently through their “glasses.”

  • At first glance I see their has to be a God!

  • Kirk

    “Success has always been the greatest liar – and the ‘work’ itself is a success.”- F.W. Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil”

    Love the blog; thanks for the post, James

  • Shirley Creed

    Oh! I simply thought “yoga”. It’s a lovely picture. And if it had been a male in the same position I’d have thought the same thing.

  • Richard

    I see my daughter doing what she loves best….yoga on the beach…namaste

  • I see a beautiful, flexible and strong woman pretending she’s a pretzel.

  • Ship on the ocean in background. Attractive lady doing an awesome asana in the foreground.

  • Andrew Murphy

    I see a super hot chick bro – a super hot chick!

  • HVM

    When reading the title question and looking at it I saw the Nike Swoosh, seriously and thought it was a Nike ad and you were going to go into how we’re programmed. Guess I’ve been programmed…

  • I saw a ship in the sea back there far behind everything !!!

  • The woman in the image sent me a note. Will put up in a future post.

  • Remnant Dan

    I see a young woman of tremendous flexibility and balance, doing something I didn’t know a human could do. It’s beautiful.

  • Meme

    One needs to cull the dross….. I see an amazing person.

  • Christine Chang

    Gosh, some people are so sensitive. I’ll say it again and again, love your blog James!

  • Laura G.

    She’s wearing what people wear on the beach every day. When he’s at the beach, does he yell at them to put clothes on? No. His problem was that he had probably just been sitting in his air-conditioned office and processed the picture out of context… everyone around him was dressed in business suits, and since he can’t separate imaginary from reality, he viewed the girl in the picture as under-dressed. Seriously, he needs to look at it in context– he made it dirty because he couldn’t reconcile the different settings in his mind, and that’s because he is lacking brain matter, not you.

  • Madelain the Head Mad Yogini

    You’re better off without that reader. I love Dashama Konnah gordan. Name of the girl in the picture. i started practising yoga because of her. there’s more to Dash than her pose and bikini. She’s enjoying the hight of her life, and beauty. I would regret not doing it.
    Loved this read! I can almost get my foot around my head. now i need to try it on the beach in a bikini. Imagine all the weird stares I’d get! What a fab thought!

  • Frank in CA

    What a prude that reader must have been. What naked girl? Besides, what is wrong with a naked woman?
    America does not want me to see a nipple, for it might destroy my moral compass, it could utterly drive me insane and turn me into a non-human… (?) Only in America.
    In Germany, Denmark, heck, all over Europe, there are plenty of nipples, boobs and you know what on TV, all the time. They celebrate the naked body.
    America just wants me to look at images of dead and disfigured soldiers, heads getting blown off and other such carnage… i guess because that is beautiful (?)
    There is a lot less crime and gun violence in Europe, must be that all those criminals sit at home, watching TV.. watching naked things ? Hey, if that works…
    A reader who leaves your blog because in his insane and retarded mind he thought that he was looking at a naked girl, that was not a reader anyway.
    James, you didn’t lose a reader, you strengthened your readership and followers.

  • aby cruz

    Simply enjoying her life …. that’s life !!!!!

  • Just a normal guy

    Honestly? First reaction? I saw a girl I’d like to have sex with. Sorry, I’m a slave to my biological programming.

  • KJP712

    I see a boat.

  • HCSKnight

    “But then people beat us, betray us, love us, make fun of us, steal from
    us, hurt us, kiss us, punch us, and the glasses get blurry from all the
    mud slung at us. So we ask, “what’s out there?” And the government tells
    us, our friends, our colleagues, bosses, etc.”

    What a banal narcissist “answer” to what happens to the clear eyed flower that is your ego.

  • lesley

    The only person who should really be able to object at her photo being used is the girl IN the photo. She is beautiful by the way. Don’t look if you don’t like it but methinks he doth protest too much. Have you ever noticed that people who state ‘not to like things’ have to keep checking just to make sure. I am 60 years old and have to shout myself off the floor when I’ve been playing with the dog. How I wish I could just stand on one leg to get my jeans on without being in danger of falling over. Enjoy the beauty, don’t be mean spirited. XXXXXXXXXX

  • Mary

    what is wrong with her toes??? the toes next to her head look deformed or something

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