Monday, April 13, 2009

73/103 - Discovering Ignorance

10:30 am with Janna

I was borderline on whether to go this morning or put it off until tonight.  I'm glad I went this morning.  When I walked into the room, I was hit by a blast of heat.  At first, I thought it might be just the effect of taking a day off.  The thermometer said otherwise -- we started at 110.  I read about other classes where people are in hotter conditions, like 116 and 65% humidity.  I don't know how they do it, but I guess I might figure out a way given some time.

Class was strong.  I got a deeper twist in Triangle than I have before, thanks to Janna's care in the set-up.  She emphasized keeping the back straight and the hips really forward so the chest is opened up before moving the arms into position.  It made a big difference -- I felt a strong opening in my chest and actually got my chin on my arm, something that is usually lacking.

After standing series, I took a slightly longer pause to give thanks for the series before taking Savasana.  This very simple thing seems to add a level of organization, or even peace, to what follows.  I have no idea why this works, but it seems to have a subtle positive effect.  Then again, why should it's mystery be any different than the mystery that surrounds the rest of yoga?  I basically don't know why any of it works, but I'm convinced that it does.

Floor series was great, until Rabbit.  I had a strong and steady back strengthening series, felt great through Camel.  And then I hit some sort of wall.  I came out of the first set of Rabbit a little dizzy.  Then it got hot for me all of a sudden, and I just dragged myself through the end.  I don't know what hit me, and it didn't last.  By the time we got to the second set of the breathing exercise, I was fine again.  But for a little less than 10 minutes, an otherwise great class became a deep struggle.

Often, when I think I know where the yoga practice is going, it throws me for a loop.  Today, it turned on a dime, twice.  I've had other classes where I thought I was not going to make it by Awkward Pose, only to have everything turn around based on some small word of encouragement from the teacher.  I've had days where I felt great going in, and basically wiped out less than 20 minutes in.  And other days where I was afraid that I would not make it before class started, only to have one of my strongest classes, or to make new, unforeseen breakthroughs.

This uncertainty connects with today's meditation.  Gate's says that the road to spirituality begins with an acknowledgment that you know nothing.  Being self-satisfied with what you know is an obstacle to growth.  My practice continually shows me my ignorance.  Continually, when I think I know what I'm going to get, my practice shows me I was wrong, that I was ignorant.  These lessons in ignorance, in an odd way, are one of the reasons I like this yoga so much.  They remind me again and again that the way I will truly make progress is by letting go of my anticipations, taking on the mind of a beginner, and simply listening to the teacher and doing what she says when she says it.

I'm also amazed that Gates writes about embracing ignorance and learning to listen to truth, and he seems to be totally unaware of Socrates.  The one thing that Socrates continually insisted on was that, if he was wiser than anyone else, it was only because he was so deeply aware of his own ignorance.  The way Plato writes the dialogues, its easy to get the sense that this is false humility -- a kind of put on.  But even so, something of its genuineness shines through.  I always had the feeling that Socrates himself probably embodied a true spirit of humility, but that Plato esteemed him so highly that he had a hard time completely honoring that humility.

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