Friday, August 14, 2009

159/226 - Understanding the Practice

4:30 pm with Sherry

I set up in the hottest part of the room again. I'm getting to like it. Part of that may be because the class simply is not as strenuous with the limitations that my knee has set. So it's much easier to deal with more heat. After class, I told Sherry that I thought it was a little cold today, and she said that it was 108 degrees up front -- so probably 110-112 where I was.

The major thing I noticed today was how important the development and progressions of the sequences is. There are only two poses where I feel zero effect from my knee: Camel and Rabbit. And as we are told over and over, these are the heart of the series, around which everything else was designed. It all leads up to Camel and Rabbit. Today, I realized what they meant by that. My knee wasn't interfering directly with either of these poses. But, because I had compromised on almost everything leading up to these two, these poses weren't quite there for me either.

The entire series could be looked at as an alternating series of backward and forward bends, all leading up to these two poses. Back bends: Half Moon, Awkward (1st part), Standing Bow, Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, Floor Bow, Fixed Firm. Forward Bends: First forward bend, Standing Head to Knee, Balancing Stick, Standing Separate Leg Stretching, Standing Separate Leg Forehead to Knee, Half Tortoise. These alternations all culminate with Camel and Rabbit, and they are all preparations for it. But I hadn't truly realized until today, when Camel and Rabbit were easy and everything else was compromised, how much they really do pave the way for these poses.

The day 221 meditation starts with a great quote from Ekhart Tolle: "You can't think about presence, and the mind can't understand it. Understanding presence is being present." First off, I like this quote because it is inherently self-contradictory. He's explaining presence, by telling us that it can't be understood or explained. And the weird thing is that I have an inkling of what he means. As soon as you realize that you are present, the realization itself pops the bubble, and you are no longer there.

I've had that happen several times in class. Things will be zooming along, and I'm basically with the dialogue, and everything is going smoothly. Then I realize what's happening, and at that moment the class starts to go south. The ease and the joy that came before simply evaporate. Of course, one of the main goals of class is to learn to become present. And if so, that means that ultimately, as Gates says, that we will never understand our practice. Instead we simply go to it and do it. (And keep in mind that I'm saying this after my long analysis of the back and forward bending structure of the series that occurred to me today. That's a hint that I'm not quite to this point yet. At least not for any extended stretch of time.)


Bosco said...

A friend of mine once said, with a double entendre: "You have to be present in order to claim the prize." I loved your discussion of this. We can think about what it means and have some intellectual understanding of what it means to be present, but then when we are actually present, and then think it to ourselves, we aren't present anymore. It is a reality beyond what we can perceive with the intellect.

Shabs said... be totally focused on the dialogue, the breath and the postures, in a meditative state throughout the entire class-no mental chatter. That has to surely be one of the ultimate goals for practice. I'm not there yet either, but I hope to be one day!