Today I had the sort of punishing class that I anticipated yesterday. I was pretty much wiped out by Standing Bow, and from that point on I was running mostly on determination and ego. And yes, I know that we're supposed to kill ourselves, meaning to kill our egos. But in a class like this, I get to certain points where there is an internal war: part of me is screaming to just sit out, that it won't make any difference in the long run; and another part of me is saying shut up, I can do this. Except the "I" in "I can do this" should be about seven or eight times as big as it appears on the page.
Anyway, I made it somehow. I only sat out a set of Triangle, although I probably should have taken more rest. In the floor series, there were a couple of poses where Lenette prodded me to push harder. In Camel she told me to push forward more with the hips, and somehow I did. So again, it looks like I was doing a pretty good job of hiding my struggle. And it also shows that there really are more resources available even when I think I'm totally drained.
Again today, I had a really good balancing series. Today, Standing Bow was the star. I had good form, good depth, and held it for much longer than usual in each of the four sides. And to top it off, I was in the back row today. Usually, in the back row, I have a hard time finding my balance. Today, it was fine. Then, by Tree, I was so wiped out that I fell out a couple of times, and I never fall out of tree.
I'm wondering again what causes these killer classes. I think I was hydrated enough, and I didn't feel thirsty. It wasn't the heat, I don't think. It was just that everything seemed harder than usual, and my stamina just wasn't there. Perhaps I'm fighting off an illness. Or maybe it was just a hard day.
The day 113 meditation is about the types of spiritual ignorance. According to the Yoga Sutras, the ignorance arises from different mistakes that we make: mistaking the transient for the permanent, the impure for the pure, pain for pleasure, and that which is not the self for the self. The sutra packs an awful lot into very few words.
For example, mistaking pain for pleasure. That pretty much sums up lots of bad habits that people fall into, from overeating, to wasting away beautiful days playing video games, to all sorts of minor addictions, etc... Its also this sort of thing that leads athletes to overtraining injuries. When I was riding my bike, I would look forward to the pain I might feel after a long, grueling ride. It meant I was pushing myself harder, making things better, and it was a testament to my ability to endure. Almost inevitably, this attitude would lead to a bigger breakdown of some sort, or to illness. And that's just the tip of the iceberg on one of these four categories.
And now that I think about it, isn't that exactly what I was doing today. I was taking some perverse sort of pleasure in being able to continue, and fighting through the poses. So was I simply mistaking pain for pleasure here. (And I admit that this is a weird kind of pleasure, because it was painful. But again, I came out with the satisfaction that I endured it.) I need to think on this some more, because I really don't know whether I should have sat out more or not on a day like today.
Gates doesn't go into detail about these four categories. Instead, he draws an analogy. Imagine we are in a dark room, and each of these kinds of mistakes is a hot stove in the room. We keep blundering around, burning ourselves on the stoves. And then we hear a voice to turn on the light. The light is spiritual enlightenment.
I basically like the analogy, but think that it must be incomplete. To complete it, the room should not only have hot stoves, but other good things in it (storage containers, maybe?). The good things are things that are permanent, pure, true pleasure, and the self. We blunder around in the dark, drawn to the heat, and as a result, we get burned. After getting burned a few times, we might stop blundering around, and become more or less paralyzed, afraid to touch anything since it might be a hot stove. And then we start to hear the call to perhaps turn on the light and stop blundering. That's how I might complete the analogy. And I still think that there's something not quite right about it. But I don't know what.