Wednesday, January 21, 2009

14/20 Connection with others

Tuesday 8:30 am with Lenette

I missed posting yesterday because we went on a road trip: a five hour drive to Fort Worth, followed by a wonderful piano recital by Yendi Li who won the Chopin Competition a few years back, followed by the five hour drive home -- getting back at 3am.  On top of that, the leisurely trip tensed up a little when we got a flat tire about half way there and then discovered that the spare was also flat.  Roadside assistance managed to get us off the road, plug the spare well enough to make it barely roadworthy, and get us moving again.  We opted to try to get to Fort Worth and made it with 10 minutes to spare.  And the spare tire had only dropped in pressure from 32 to 20 lbs.  We got home OK, filling the spare only twice.  The good news is that I managed to stay calm despite the road troubles, the tight squeeze in making the concert, and having no dinner.  I think, in substantial part, I owe that calmness to yoga.

Class in the morning was good.  Lenette gave me some good pointers on Standing Separate Head to Floor.  She showed me how to bend one knee at a time to grab the outsides of my feet even with my legs spread really wide.  She then pointed out the spot in the middle of my back that I need to concentrate on lengthening.  This help made for an unusually deep stretch, and combined with the Yanzi's car seat (which I detest) and ten hours of driving, I was really feeling it in my hips by the time we got home last night.  

I've got to be careful in this pose:  its what caused the sciatic pain before.  And yet, I'd really like to start making some progress with this pose as well.  So there is a tension there between caution and desire that I need to puzzle through.

The high point in class was Lenette's reaction to my Fixed Firm.  She looked at my feet and said "That looks really good, Duffy."  I've been working really hard on getting my feet to point to the back in this pose, and its nice to hear that the efforts are visibly paying off.

In Gates' meditation, somehow non-harming has morphed into the connected nature of all people (and perhaps more).  Here's my guess as to how this leap comes about:  as you practice non-harming you also begin to focus on what it means and what effects it has.  One of the main things that comes about through this process is the realization that we should not harm others because we are connected to them.  This calls to mind the buddhist vow:  "I shall become enlightened for the sake of all living things."  And also the christian idea that we are all one in the body of Christ.  The same idea probably crops up in other interesting places as well.

Two other thoughts from today's meditation:  Gates talks about how his fear of rejection has sometimes hindered his ability to connect with strangers.  As a basically shy person, this is something I can relate to very easily.  It's not easy for me to engage with strangers, and I think this is partially out of fear.  And, as he noted earlier, the fear is in some ways mingled with a sense of pride.  Sometimes, with strangers, I feel like the teenager at a dance who stands alone or with a friend or two off to the side, not dancing and feeling "above all that," but really not dancing because we were scared shitless that any girl we might want to dance with would say no.  It would be a blessing if the practice of non-harming could help to exorcise that small demon .

The last and most optimistic part of todays meditation is the idea that observing the yamas and niyamas, which might seem onerous before you start, is actually much easier to do than most people think.  And its easy because it fits with us -- because it is right, it feels right.  Or, borrowing from the Messiah - its yoke is easy and its burden is light.  I can't say at this point whether I agree with this point or not, but it certainly makes it easier to give these ideas a chance.

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