Friday, June 12, 2009

111/161 - Dropping the Baggage

Wednesday 8:15 with Amy --

I've been falling behind.  I blame the NBA finals at least in part.  But I also wonder whether my enthusiasm is waning just a bit.  I only got to four classes last week.  This week I should make it to five, but I missed two early in the week.   I imagine, like in other activities, there will be peaks in valleys in how firmly the yoga grabs onto me.

Wednesday's class was crowded for an 8:15 class.  Normally, there are somewhere from 10-14 people there.  There have been nights with as few as 6.  Last night there were 23, and when I said that was probably a record, I heard that there had been 24 on Tuesday.  I think it may be because school let out, but for whatever reason, its a good thing.

Class was rock solid.  My stamina was back.  Because it was an evening class, my flexibility was good.  And my balance was better than average.  I didn't need water, and I refrained from some of my tics (blowing my nose to no effect, and readjusting the top of my shorts).  Even better, while working hard, I was just happy to be there.

I got one correction that I really need to work on.  In the first few months, teachers where constantly telling me to straighten my arms -- in Half Moon, the first backbend, Balancing Stick, Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee.  I stopped hearing it for a pretty long while, and my arms look pretty good in Half Moon.  Wednesday, Amy called me out on the first backbend.  Apparently I've gotten lazy and have been bending my arms in this pose too much.  Of course, bending the arms gives the illusion of going deeper, and it also bypasses stretching in the upper back and shoulders.  So this is an area that needs work.

The day 160 meditation has a fairly lengthy description of all the baggage that we can bring to something as simple as a red light.  I think he is describing reactions that come when we are in a rush.  It can bring back all the times we've been late, have not been late, the lessons we had early in our lives about being prompt or tardy, etc...  Thus, the red light ceases to be simply what it is, and starts to stand for lots of things that we project onto it. 

I've definitely felt that way sometimes, especially if I'm in a rush to get somewhere.  But the passage amused me because last week I had almost exactly the opposite experience.  I was driving on a nearly empty road in the middle of the day.  It was a nice day, and I was simply taking in the surroundings as I was driving.   And for a little bit, I must have simply melted into the surroundings.  

I saw the light, I probably even noticed that it was red, but that simply didn't mean anything to me at the time.  So I blithely ran through it.  Halfway through the intersection, I heard a honk.  Thankfully, it was from the car I had passed, who had stopped at the intersection.  There was no cross traffic, and there weren't any policeman.  The honk brought me back, and I realized, "Oh! It's a RED light."  And suddenly that had meaning, and what I had done was just a little bit frightening.  I'd like to think that I was paying attention to other traffic, and would have stopped if there was cross traffic, but I simply don't know for sure.  I think this was an example of perhaps diving too deeply into the moment -- being so present, in one sense, that I had stopped processing the meanings of ordinary sighs.  Instead of bringing too much baggage to the traffic signal, I brought absolutely none.  Thankfully, nothing bad happened as a result.

The mat, Gates says, is a place where we can drop all of the baggage, where it is safe and productive to live completely in the present.   Where we can completely quiet the body, the mind, and the spirit.  Given a choice between  on the mat, and behind the wheel, I recommend the mat.


Bosco said...

There's a statement in "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," somewhere pretty close to the beginning of the book, that is approximately: "The immersion in the here and now is nothing less than the totality of everything that there is." I quoted this to Gene Fahey, a friend who lived (and still lives) in Plymouth, New Hampshire about 30 years ago, and he said "Yes, but you should still consider buying life insurance." I have had those moments too -sometimes while driving - when I was momentarily inattentive and then thought, what the hell was I thinking? I'm glad there was no cross traffic for you, or that might have been the end of your yoga career!

I like what Gates said about yoga being a microcosm of your life. The way you do your yoga is probably a lot like the way you do your life, so if you can improve your yoga you are likely improving your approach/ attitude about your whole life, too. I also like the suggested duplets to keep in mind while practicing. I have been using "effortless and focused" and find that works for me.

I have also been thinking, during the setup for Triangle, about what you blogged several days ago - that the setup is actually a pose. So I treat it that way, a two-step pose. And know that it is an end in itself and not just a very difficult, annoying and uncomfortable thing to get through in order to get to the real Triangle pose it is all working a lot better for me.

Duffy Pratt said...

Of the word pairings, I like the "effortless and focused" combination the best.

I've spaced out before, but that's not really what happenned. I would like to think that I was alert to real dangers, like cross traffic. But that things like signs and symbols had lost their meaning for a short time. I certainly was not having any trouble driving, or dealing with traffic next to me. But who knows?