Sunday, April 26, 2009

82/116 - The Still Center

2:30 pm with Connease

Whatever was bugging me the last couple of days was gone.  I intended to try to stay in the room.  Instead, I stayed with every posture, only coming out of Locust early in the first set.

My right knee was bothering me some.  I think its my worn out shoes, and they are going in the trash tonight.  I had some extra tension on the inside of my right knee.  It didn't interfere with very much, and I was surprised at the two poses that it did bother.  First was tree pose.  Lowering my right knee down was a challenge, and I had to treat it very gingerly.  And then, in the final seated head to knee pose, I had problems pressing my right foot into my left thigh.  So the tension comes when I bend my knee and push it out to the side.  I can't think of any way that I could do that in yoga, and I've noticed some imbalance in my feet from my totally worn out sneakers.  So I think I'm going to see what a change of shoes does before I try anything more drastic.

From an objective standpoint, I think I would say that class was pretty ordinary.  No breakthroughs, but it was a nice, focused practice.  And I stayed alert and together throughout.  Given what I was expecting, it was thrilling to just do the postures well and not get wiped out.

The day 115 meditation is basically about how we come to know ourselves better on the mat.   Gates says that through the asana practice, we from time to time let go of our fears, our desire to excel, our frustrations, etc...  And in those moments of letting go, we come face to face with a point of stillness around which all the rest whirls.  And by becoming acquainted with the still point at the center of the whirlwind, we come to know ourselves better.

I like this idea.  It would explain why so much of yoga practice is devoted to letting go.  Let go of your daily worries.  Let go of your desire to finally get your head to the floor in Standing Separate Leg Head to the Floor.  Let go of the fear that you are gonna topple over if you push the first backbend any further.  Let go of the frustration that might come because the woman next to you has plopped her water bottle down in the path of your arms.  And so on.   

It also explains why there is so much emphasis on discipline and stillness between postures.  The stillness is partially to help with rest and recovery.  But even more, its to help with the meditative aspect.  It is an aid to coming in touch with the still center.  If you can not wipe, not shuffle, not adjust your costume or your towel, etc.  If you just focus on yourself in the mirror and your breath, its much more likely that you will happen upon the still, peaceful point at the center.

For me, this is a now you see it, now you don't sort of idea.  On a day like today, when everything seems so easy, and when being still was simply not a problem at all, I can easily see the point Gates is making.  And I'm grateful for this part of the yoga.  (As an aside, a little while ago I started taking Gates up on the notion of saying a short prayer of gratitude during the class.  I've been doing it just at the end of the standing series, before the long Savasana, and it definitely seems to help in calming things down, and sometimes in finding a real point of stillness.)

But, on the days when I'm at war with myself, where everything seems a struggle, its hard for me to get anywhere near this still point.  It might be there, but that seems like a thoroughly abstract idea at those times.  I suppose its nice to know (or believe) that there is a point of stillness, but getting there is a different story.  Bikram says:  "Don't let anyone steal your peace."  It's great advice, but it sometimes seems very hard to put into practice.

1 comment:

bikramyogachick said...

A timely post. Somebody has been stealing my peace and I finally put an end to it. Stillness. I stopped bringing a washcloth in. Because I wanted to be able to say "game on"...its just me, my mat, my sweat, my breath and I will never go back. So I hope and pray that I can find stillness off the mat as well. Thanks Duffy, your blog is insighful as always...keep it up!