Monday, May 4, 2009

87/124 - The Mouse that Roared

10:30 am with Lenette

Class was crowed for this time, with about 25 in the room.  The energy was good.  Temperature was perfect.  And the class just flowed all the way through. 

I didn't have any breakthroughs, but I also didn't have any noticeable failings.  Everything was just, well, pleasant.  Even Locust and Full Locust.  I did notice something about Lenette today, which had not occurred to me before.  She tends to compliment corrections.  I almost never get a word in the first forward bend.  Today, at a certain point, I realized that I don't really try to get my head to my legs, because I'm focused so much on stretching my lower back and keeping my chest and thighs together.  So, I then relaxed my neck as much as possible and then tried to get it to touch.  Lenette immediately said "Good, Duffy!"  (I also sometimes think that she sees absolutely everything.)  

Maybe the reason I hadn't heard anything before was because I was kind of hanging out (although it doesn't feel that way).  But then I listened to some of her other compliments, and it does seem that she is most likely to praise someone who has noticed something lacking in a posture and then self-corrected.  I think this is probably a great trait, because its exactly when doing those new corrections that I tend to be least sure of myself.

In the day 122 meditation, Gates talks about how Japan and Germany lost WW2, and then got what the economic power they wanted after the war, partially through post war reparations.  He asks, then, whether they lost or won?  I don't have an answer to this, but it reminded me of one of my favorite books as a kid:  The Mouse That Roared.  The Duchy of Grand Fenwick is a tiny fictional country in Europe.  It's on the verge of bankruptcy and ruin.  It decides that they only way it can save itself is to go to war with the U.S., lose the war, and then have the U.S. come in and repair its economy.  So, it sends an invasion force to Manhattan, with the sole purpose of surrendering.  The only problem is that the invasion force can't find anyone to whom they can surrender.  And then they wind up stumbling onto a doomsday project, capture the bomb, and thus win the war.  It's a very funny book (or at least it was when I was 12 or 13), and it was made into a decent movie with a very funny performance by Peter Sellars.

Gates basic point, I think, is a good one.   For many things, whether it is good or bad is a matter of perspective and attitude.  On the mat, he talks about how there are poses that we dread.  Then, as we start to get good at them, we start to look forward to them, and perhaps become too attached to them.  I've found this development to be true, but sometimes cyclical, in the Bikram practice.  Of course, we always do the same 26 poses.  When we started, I hated Rabbit.  Then I got good at it, and came to look forward to it.  Then something happenned (I think my form improved), and the pose got really hard again.  Now it's a pose I tend to feel differently about every day.   Not all poses are like that -- I've always loved the first back bend and hated the first forward bend for example.  But its surprising how frequently my desire/aversion for each pose shifts as the practice develops.  At some point, maybe they will all just BE.  I'm definitely not there yet.

I have one pretty big hesitation about the whole idea of letting go of "attachments."  Yesterday, I said that attachment is thinking of something that we want as a "need."  But what about things that we want that really are good, but aren't really necessary.  The big ones, I think, are things like family, friends, and perhaps even life itself.  Gates focuses on becoming attached to things that, as an attachment, clearly are bad for us:  addictions, food attachments, liking of stuff, things that gratify our false image of ourselves.  He doesn't mention being attached to the good, and I am curious, and undecided, about this.


hannahjustbreathe said...

"...she is most likely to praise someone who has noticed something lacking in a posture and then self-corrected." An excellent teacher quality indeed. And excellent student behavior, too, because that self-correction shows you are 100 percent listening to and internalizing the dialogue and, better still, acting on it in your practice. So, she better be complimenting your efforts! :)

crisitunity said...

My understanding of nonattachment is that you can enjoy the good things, the family and the friends and so on, but you try to stay out of the realm of needing those good things in order to be happy. I think the idea is that you should detach to the point where you will not miss things when they're gone.

This isn't necessarily a realistic or desirable way to live, but I think that's the concept.

Duffy Pratt said...


Lenette is a wonderful teacher. Actually, I think our studio has been especially blessed in the quality and the genuine caring of the teachers we have. It runs from very good to outstanding. I've heard some bad things about Bikram teachers elsewhere, but so far I've never experienced any of the "nightmare" teachers.


I agree that that may be the ultimate end of non-attachment. I also agree that it may not be a desirable way to live. It seems to me that, with some attachments, the present good far outweighs the future pain that will come with loss. An easy example, for me, is my dogs. They will almost certainly die before I do, and I'm going to feel horrible when they do. But I wouldn't lessen my relationship to them as a result, not for a second. In the end, if that's a spiritual failing of mine, then so be it.