Tuesday, January 27, 2009

19/26 - The Eyes of a Child

8:15 with Danielle

This was the fourth tough class in a row.  My stamina was back, and that felt good.  But I was also really tight, even for me.  The hamstring, knee, and hip I injured in the last challenge are all starting to complain, and I was not as flexible in my left leg as I have been for the last several weeks.  On top of that, I started cramping again toward the end of the class, in my left foot in Rabbit, and then in my calf in the first half of the Spinal Twist.

It looks like I'm either going to have to ease off a bit on the frequency of my classes, or be much more careful about intensity during the classes, especially in the forward bends.  I thought I had learned my lesson last time, but now it's looking like I learned from the past, and I now know how to repeat it exactly.  

Gates quotes a line from Proust which is remarkably similar to the line from Thomas Hardy I paraphrased a couple of days ago:  "The real voyage of discover consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."  He talks about the value of a retreat, for whatever time period, to get a fresh look on ordinary life.  With a refreshed, or refurbished, awareness, it becomes possible to again see what he called "the hugeness of the ordinary."

There are lots and lots of ways to achieve this.  One of the reasons I love the movies is because the world itself becomes a different place after seeing a really great movie.  Everything looks, sounds, and feels different and somehow fresher.  The same thing happens, for me, after a really good music performance.  

And, its also one of the reasons I love the heat in the Bikram studios.  When I get wiped out, totally beat up, and feel like I've left everything I could on the mat, then after class the whole world feels calmer, more still, and I feel more at peace with myself and everything else.  The funny thing is, for the most part, the peaceful feeling comes after the "tough" classes.  And while its nice to really be on top of it during class, it often doesn't end up being as satisfying later. 

On a higher level, this thought connects with a passage of scripture that I know best from a paraphrase from a Sidney Lanier poem called The Symphony:  "Never shalt thou the heavens see, save as a little child thou be."  To a child, the world is perpetually new -- everything is new and exciting.  In practice, it helps to try to continually take the attitude of a beginner, in part I think because this attitude opens the way to discovery.  The retreats that Gates talks about, I think, facilitate the ability to look at things as though they were fresh and new.  They allow us to experience the ordinary again with the fresh eyes of the child.  And this in turn may give us glimpses of heaven.

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