Monday, May 18, 2009

96/137 - Stillness in action

Sunday off.

The day 136 meditation starts the discussion about asana.

Asana practice starts the trip home.  This idea echoes an earlier idea that yoga returns us to our youth, it de-ages us.  As I understand it, home is the feeling of belonging in our bodies, belonging in our minds, and belonging in our surroundings.

We get to go home by discovering stillness.  Here, Gates says something that I think is very interesting.  For a long while, his practice aimed toward particular results.  That's only natural, most people strive for results, and asana practice makes it easy to throw up benchmarks.  How close to the floor is my head in the separate leg forward stretch.  How high off the ground do my feet get in Locust?  Is the pain in my knee better or worse.  How are my clothes fitting?   There are lots and lots of results to strive for.  Moreover, yoga (at least Bikram yoga) sells itself on its benefits.

Only over time do we start to learn not to focus on results.  One of the main reasons for this shift is that striving for results tends to be counterproductive.  It leads to frustration, injury and discontent.  So instead, we hopefully learn to switch our focus from results to the process itself.

The interesting thing Gates said is that he learned to eschew results not through his practice, but through his teaching.  Here's why.  Gates has said again and again that his primary spiritual commitment  is to serve.  Part of his service is through teaching.  This, it seems to me, that his teaching is probably a more vital part of his practice than doing asanas.  Thus, I think its perfectly natural for him to learn this lesson through teaching and not through asana.  That's where he is probably most driven and spiritually connected.  What I don't understand, however, is how he missed this point.


bikramyogachick said...

As I practice stillness off the mat in my life right now this quote really hit home with me:
"home is the feeling of belonging in our bodies, belonging in our minds, and belonging in our surroundings." I find myself wanting to go home....thanks as usual for your insight Duffy!

Duffy Pratt said...

Wow, that quote is actually something that I said ;)