Cisco teaching the 2:30 Sunday classes is making up for the horrible time slot. I slipped from my no water goal today. By itself, that's not so bad. But thinking about it, it's pretty clear that I drank out of fear. I hadn't had anything to eat all day, and I had a slight headache going in. So I was simply afraid that things would get really bad if I didn't drink. I took a sip at the first party time, and realized that I didn't need it, that I was just doing it out of anxiety. Then I made it pretty comfortably through the rest of the class with no water.
Cisco called me out in Awkward Pose. In second set, he said I was doing it great. Then he said to come up just a little bit at the hips. The difference was amazing. My thighs started to burn and quiver. After the pose, he said that we all learn little ways to hang out in poses. He had done the same little cheat in Awkward Pose, and had only been called on it after two years of practice, and after he had gone through teacher training. I had been working my ankles and feet just fine, but I had found the sweet spot where I look great in the squat, but am also capable of hanging out. Bring up the hips and upper body just a hair, and the pose becomes really, well, awkward again.
In final forward stretch, Cisco said I had made progress in that pose too (too was referring back to the third part of wind removing). I said, "A little, I guess." Then he says, your knees are locked, your thighs are engaged, your back is straight, and your heels are off the floor. It looks really good, and you say "a little"? This was just a fabulous compliment for me. I have tried really hard to work on my form in the poses that I don't do very well. Other teachers see me often enough that I don't think they notice the changes as much. Frankly, in this pose I had not noticed much change either. And recently I have been frustrated in this pose, because it doesn't really feel like all that much is happening. It's really nice to hear that my attention to form is paying off.
At the end of the class, after his customary comment to keep coming back to yoga because it will change your life, Cisco closed by saying "I love you all more than you know." This is pure Cisco. He's about the only one I know who could pull off saying something like this and genuinely meaning it, and without making it sound corny in the slightest.
Todays meditation is about finding contentment in the rough spots as well as the beautiful spots. Actually Gates says that he has had an easier time with the rough spots, because the smooth ones invariably lead him to wonder how long it will last, what will upset it, etc...
In many ways, Bikram's class is designed to get people to learn contentment in less than ideal conditions. He doesn't call it the torture chamber for nothing. First off, part of the reason for the heat and humidity is simply because it is uncomfortable. It's meant to be a distraction, and its meant to challenge your mind. So simply learning to be content with the heat is a start in the practice of contentment. And, as I find out every few days (or weeks if I'm lucky), just when you think you have the heat beaten, it comes back and knocks you on your ass again.
Gates says that contentment is a particular kind of stillness, one infused with faith, an open heart and an open mind. Notice that this doesn't mean that we have to take a pollyanna view about stuff that sucks. It's enough to realize that sometimes its ok for things to suck. With that approach, and a spirit of openess, we might even be able to draw out what is worthwhile.
As for the good moments, I generally don't have the same problem that Gates has. But there have been several times when I've been having a wonderful time, or in a wonderful place, with other people. When they become aware of how nice everything is, often they immediately feel the need to "capture" it with pictures or video. And almost as often, the recording of the moment destroys the moment itself. Sometimes, losing the moment while trying to capture it leads to frustration or even anger. I sometimes wonder if people had an easier time really enjoying themselves before we had the ability to record every moment.