I've been on something of a roll with Amy's classes, and last night's was no exception. It was another solid class. My focus was good. I didn't quite keep the same concentration on breath as I had on Monday, and as a result class was not quite as satisfying.
Balance was good again, especially Standing Bow. And I had another really good back strengthening series. Once again, I pushed really hard in Locust and came near the point of cramping in my upper back. I'm just beginning to get the idea of what it might mean to really push up with the shoulders in this pose. To date, I had been rolling forward, pushing down on my arms and arching my back, but it never really clicked for me what it meant to push with the shoulders. I'm still not sure I've got it, but I began to get a glimmer of some new possibility for movement. It's amazing to me how you reach a new place in these poses, and they suddenly offer up new wrinkles that you had no awareness of at all before.
The day 131 meditation is about the second goal in life, artha, or balance in the external life. In the U.S., of course, we tend to equate prosperity with wealth. That leads to an extraordinary emphasis on making money. (In economics classes, for example, students are told again and again that the rational actor engages only in wealth maximization.) Wealth is a component of artha, but only a component. It also involves family, friends, work, etc...
The balance to strive for is between abundance and peace. I like this idea very much. Too much focus on abundance is likely to corrupt a person into thinking that stuff is everything. But complete neglect of abundance is also, for most everyone, a recipe for disaster. Peace requires the fulfillment of some minimum needs, and perhaps a bit more. There's a Dickens quote that I can't quite remember, but the idea is that someone who makes 10 lbs a year and spends 9 will be happy, while someone who make 10,000 lbs a year and spends 11,000 ends up a wretch.
Finally, this yoga goal seems, like some others, to have a paradoxical flavor to it. Gates stresses that the point of artha is for your outward and inward life to fit together. Thus, the point is to have your outward life fit comfortably with yourself. When it fits, its not something that you should be working hard at. It should flow naturally. Thus the goal seems to be more of a byproduct of living correctly, instead of something specific that you work toward.