Sunday, March 22, 2009

58/81 Watching the River Flow

Saturday 9:30 am with Janna
Sunday 2:30 pm with Miranda

The last two days have felt a bit like a roller coaster.  Yesterday, I felt better going to class.  Then, during class I was incredibly tight.  I couldn't even grab my left foot in Standing Head to Knee.  My first set of Rabbit was more like a pathetic Child's pose.  My forehead wasn't getting anywhere near my knee, and I could still feel an amazing pull in my right side lower back.  Sit-ups were scary.

The low point yesteday, however, was the balancing series as a whole.  I don't think I started Bikram with such poor balance.  I fell out and fell out and fell out, and never got any kind of momentum going in any of the three poses.

Despite that, I felt better after class, and the feeling better continued (and actually my back continued to loosen up) throughout the day.  Janna paid me a very nice compliment after class:  she said I work really hard, and that I'm in the pose and focused all the way through the class.  For me, that counts for alot, and I'm very pleased that its apparent.

So today I woke up and my back still felt good, but I had the same Sunday headache I've had for the last several weeks.  I was on the fence about whether to go to class or to eat lunch and maybe get rid of the headache.  I opted for class.  

By awkward pose, I thought I might have made a mistake.  I'm going to have to yell at Cisco.  He called me out about the second part of Awkward a couple of weeks ago, saying to not sit quite so low into the chair.  And the correction really hurts.  I can now turn my legs to jelly in about 20 seconds, on cue.  But that only meant I felt like I might not have the stamina.  The real problem was my headache started pounding worse during the warm-up.

And then, somewhere in Eagle, it simply switched off.  Everything became very clear and still.  In contrast with yesterday, I didn't fall out of Standing Head to Knee once today.  I had no trouble grabbing my left foot and keeping my foundation.  And I kicked out on the right side for second set and held it the full time with no difficulty.  On top of that, my foundation (which is all I could work on for the last week), has never been better.

The great stretch continued through the first side of Standing Bow.  It was the best I've ever done that pose by far.  My foot was directly over my head.  Standing leg was completely locked.  I had a really good line going from my arm, through my chin, to my shoulder.  And my leg kept going up and up, way beyond where I'd ever had it before.  Then, with only like 3 seconds to go in the pose, I fell really far forward out of the pose.  Almost fell to the floor, and came up out of it laughing and very happy.

That was the end of the amazing part of class.  It then settled into a very nice, orderly class.  My back was back to about 95%.  Sit-ups were fine.  Rabbit passable.  Overall, the class was an incredible improvement on Saturday, but it paled in comparison to those few minutes in the balancing series where I felt like I had made a few years advance instantaneously. 

I'm three days behind on the meditations, but I will do my best to catch up.  The Day 79 meditation is pretty challenging.  It contrasts tapas (zeal in practice) with karma.  According to Gates, karma is the sum total of external circumstances:  birthright, physical appearance, other genetic gifts, gender, education, other life experience.  Most people float along with their karma, as though adrift in a river.

Gates says that some people try to swim against the current.  Others simply float along and get beaten against whatever rocks lie in the way.  But that there is a third way: which is simply to reach the shore and leave the river.  Tapas according to Gates is the key to reaching the shore.

OK, but it seems to me that sometimes navigating a river is preferable to trudging along the shore.  So, why doesn't the analogy say that tapas crafts for us a paddle that enables us to navigate.  And when I think about it like that, it seems to me that the entire analogy just starts to lose its power for me.  Which makes me think that I'm not quite sure what it is that Gates means or is getting at.  Ultimately, it seems to me that I'm not all that sure what the river is supposed to represent, and why getting out of it is such a good thing.

He says that we can think of karma as being the river.  So that means the river is stuff like our life experiences, our birthright, family, education -- the totality of our external existence.  And tapas lets us step out of that?  First off, I'm not sure I believe it.  And secondly, even if I did believe it, I don't see why I would want to escape ALL of that.  That makes me think I may be missing something pretty obvious here.

1 comment:

crisitunity said...

I haven't read the meditation, but I agree with you that getting out of the river makes no sense. The whole point of karma (as I see it) is that you CAN'T get out of it, it is what it is. I agree with your paddle idea; there must be another choice, other than swimming against the current or allowing yourself to be beaten by the rocks. One is aggressive, one is passive, and there's always a middle way.

Plus, how can karma be a river that is not affected by how you behave? You create your own karma. Weird.