Saturday, September 27, 2008

96/102 Autopilot Off

2:30 pm with Cisco

Cisco's classes are always high energy.  Today, he had just come back from a seminar with Mary Jarvis (in Colorado), and he seemed even more stoked than usual.  As a result, his good nature was more than usually infectious.  

As an added plus, my mat was right next to Libby's.  Practicing next to an instructor has always made me have a finer honed edge, and today was no different.  My guess is that that comes from some sort of ego thing, so its probably bad.  But its hard to say how bad it is when it makes my practice better.  I guess what's bad is that I don't have that same edge when I'm next to mere mortals.

Anyway, todays class was great again, almost on a par with the Thursday class.   Cisco tried to get us to focus on gripping our hands and locking our elbows in the poses where the fingers are in steeple position.  I've been pretty good at the hands part of this, but concentrating on the elbows was a big help in half moon, and then especially in Half Tortoise and Standing Seperate Leg Head to Knee.

The major point of todays class was to get off of autopilot.  From the beginning, we concentrate on breathing because it is through breath that we start to connect the body and mind.  And once we've made that connection, we should then come off autopilot by focusing on what we are doing, and doing it with dedication.  

I really liked this:  its very similar to the efforts I've been making the last few classes to avoid my cheats.  The cheats were/are little habits I used to try to make things easier for myself.  Today, I only caught myself doing these little things twice:  I almost dropped my arms between sides in Triangle, but stopped myself in time.  And I was wiping sweat off my face as I was laying into Savasana, and doing it without thinking.

It doesn't sound like it should make a difference.  But in only three classes, I can see that it does.  My energy level is up throughout the classes.  My focus is better.  It seems counterintuitive, but by stopping the things that I thought were making class easier, the class has become easier and more fun.

Cisco's point about autopilot goes way beyond those little things I was doing between poses.  Instead, he's talking about using the mind to take control of your poses, and not simply glide through them without thought, or focus, or concentration.  At one point, in Balancing Stick I think, he said we only needed to concentrate on two things, and that it was simple.  I started laughing, and he said "Duffy's laughing because there are probably hundreds of things to think about, and there are.  But you only need to really concentrate on two of them, and today pick these two."  Of course, he's right.  Concentrating on everything is pretty much impossible (unless you are a master or a genius), and concentrating on two things is far, far better than nothing.

In Rabbit, he gave me a great correction.  He showed me how to relax my shoulders and get my arms to lock out.  This allowed me to roll even further forward, and I could feel a stretch even deeper in my spine.  And I thought I was already pretty deep into the lower back.  I think I may have been close to the full expression of this pose, which is totally amazing considering where I started.

After class, Cisco probably paid me the best compliment I've gotten yet.  He said that I look amazing, and that he wasn't just talking about my body.  It's obvious my body has changed, but he was talking about my practice and my attitude.  He said that I looked radiant and happy while practicing.  That's really cool.

Right now, I feel like I'm on such a roll by just going every day that I don't know whether I should risk what's happening now by starting to add doubles to catch up to the challenge.  A class a day in perpetuity is probably just fine.  I may do a double early in the week just to see how it feels.  But with classes going so well, I'm not feeling at all compelled to end the challenge by catching up.

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