Wednesday, April 8, 2009

69/97 - Self Study Everywhere

Tuesday 10:30 with Connease.

Today, Connease had the temperture at a relatively mild 106-7, and I was just fine with it.  After class, I commented about how hot it had been the night before.  She said she was from the "old school,"  when they didn't have any clocks or thermometers in the room.  In some ways, maybe that's better.  But I think having the extra information is only harmful if you let it be.

The comment also explains something that I had suspected about Connease.  Unlike alot of other teachers, she doesn't pay much attention to the heat.  Early on, I had some classes with her that were almost chilly, barely cracking 90 degrees.  And then yesterday, she set a new record for me in heat endurance.  And ultimately, the range is because she takes the health attitude that, so long as its basically hot enough, the heat shouldn't be an issue.  As a practical matter that means where I am pretty sensitive to the temperature, and function best in a range of about 101 to 106, a Connease class is likely to veer into areas that are a bit more challenging for me.   And that's probably a good thing.

Anyway, in yesterday's class the weather was fine, and I felt pretty good throughout.  I still skipped one set of triangle.  And I collapsed out of Locust the second time around.  But my balancing was pretty good.  Connease really nailed me on Standing Head to Knee -- telling me at least four times to contract my thigh.  This is more of an issue in my right leg than my left, and I'm going to really have to start working again on the foundation in this pose.  My kneecap lifts, and my thigh looks contracted to me.  But when she says do more, I'm capable of doing even more.  And as Libby says:  "If you can, you must."

I remember nothing from the floor series, which is always a good sign.  Lenette was practicing next to me.  She had just returned from a wedding in New Jersey, and was fighting through lack of sleep, jet lag, and several days of eating alot of bad food.  In standing series she was popping up and down like a jack in the box.  Then she ran out to get some coconut water and settled down some.  After class, which I thought was pretty ordinary, she thanked me for pulling her through with my example.  It was a really nice compliment, but I take it to mean that I was showing a much better front to others than I was actually feeling.  But I'll take whatever compliments I can get.

 In the day 96 meditation, Gates talks about how self study happens not just reading, or in appreciation of the arts, but how every moment can provide an opportunity for self-study depending upon our attitude.  The attitude that he favors is trying to be kind.  At first glance, this struck me as sort of a disconnect, but the more I think about it, the more powerful it seems to be.

When I first started the 60 day challenge, a friend told me the best advice he could give me for doing Bikram was: "Be kind to yourself."  It's great advice.  But before you can be kind to yourself, you have to start to learn what things are kind, and which are cruel.  That's not as simple as it might sound, and it involves a great deal of self-study.  For example, take a day when I'm on the fence about whether to go to class or not.  In the end, I want to make the decision that is most kind to myself.  But just knowing that means getting to the bottom of why I might not want to go, or it means figuring out what is making me feel guilty about taking a day off, and it may mean looking closely into variety of aches or other physical things.  And it also might just mean allowing myself to trust a gut feeling.  And all of those things involve some level of self-study.

But what about being kind to others.  Often, showing kindness can mean some form of sacrifice.  Knowing that you are giving something up, deciding that its really not so important to you, and then willingly doing without, all of that involves a kind of self study.  So does acknowledging other obstacles to being kind  -- anger, impatience, stubborness, etc... -- and then letting them go.  Often, being kind brings a deep feeling of satisfaction.  Simply feeling that satisfaction, and realizing how it came about -- basking in the glow of having done something, however small, that was not selfish -- that in itself is a wonderful sort of self-study.

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