Friday, June 26, 2009

123/176 - Non-violence on the Mat

Thursday 10:30 am with Sherry

The roll continued. Another really strong class. Class went quickly. I let myself go with the dialogue. Stamina was really good again. And I can remember absolutely nothing specific about the class. All I know is I gave a good, solid effort throughout, and I enjoyed it. Otherwise, it's pretty much a blur.

The day 175 meditation is about developing non-violence on the mat. This is not the easiest concept to grasp through the Bikram dialogue. We are told to pull as hard as we can, to push harder, more, more.... When I first started, this was almost an invitation to injury. I'm sure that pushing too hard caused some of my earlier, nagging injuries (hamstrings, sciatic, knee pain, for example).

Of course we are also told to stay within are breath, that form always comes first, and that we should never push to the point of pain. But those are general ideas that come from time to time. It's the dialogue itself, combined with the teachers trying to motivate us and give us energy, that tends to pre-dominate and makes the caveats easy to forget.

Anyway, over time the idea of non-violence on the mat seems more and more important. The expression I like that embodies this idea is "focused and effortless." Rohit says "maximum effort and no struggle." (Isn't funny how "effortless" in one pair seems right, while "maximum effort" in the next also seems right?).

Gates gives a very nice rule of thumb for deciding when you are veering away from non-violence. If you are trying to defeat or conquer something, then you are in trouble. For me, this happens mostly when I decide I'm going to reach some goal. If I decided that I was really going to get a standing split in Standing Bow, I'd probably end up in traction somewhere. Instead of seeking to defeat or conquer, the idea is to understand and befriend. That seems pretty straightforward and simple. And maybe it is. But it's definitely an attitude that comes and goes, and its worthy of nearly constant reminders.

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