Wednesday, September 2, 2009

167/243 - Recreating ourselves

Monday 4:30 pm with Rohit

My knee felt fantastic on Sunday, but then something backtracked while sleeping, and it was sore going into class. And then class worked its magic, and I felt much better afterward than before.

I'm getting closer to doing the full class. I made it through both sets of Triangle in this class, and then had to skip out on one of the Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee sets, because I was a bit afraid of losing strength and falling out sideways. I came close to making it through Eagle on my standing right leg as well.

Other than that, I don't remember much about class. The temperature was good. I felt good. I think back strengthening was good, especially for an afternoon class. There were no reflux problems at all. Instead of being a constant, as it was for a long time, it's now pretty much a hit or miss thing.

I'm not skipping over the day 237 meditation. I actually discussed it out of turn, here. So I'm now skipping to day 238. It starts with a quote about how we are literally different every time we come to the mat. Every day, millions of cells die and fall off of us, while millions more grow to replace them. We replace our eyes, in their entirety, every couple of days. On top of that there is all the metabolized food passing through us, always different (if we're lucky), and always having different effects.

The point I take from this is that in a very real sense, every practice is new. And as we make progress, or hit setbacks, the newness of each practice becomes even more striking. Part of this happens because of the physical changes that occur. But it's at least as much a result of growing awareness. Over time, as we get more in tune with the way things are, with the feeling of particular types of alignment, or of different ways of stretching or easing into a pose, we also gain a greater awareness of what's actually happening, and this growing awareness renews the practice itself.

I've seen this just over the past few weeks. The knee injury really limited the first backbend I was doing. I just wasn't seeing as far down the wall as I was used to because leaning back the way I had did something to engage the inside of my right knee. So, instead of just giving up, I tried exploring ways of opening my upper and middle back, relaxing into the pose in a way that might get me a little deeper without having any impact on the knee. And I focused on really squeezing my hands together and working even more on the arms. And it's helped. It's shown new aspects to a pose that I thought I was doing pretty well in. As my knee has started to come back to normal, I think that the attention I've paid to the other aspects of the pose will pay off in a deeper and more well rounded pose.

Gates says the same process opens up new psychological and spiritual processes. The asana practice gives us something like a blueprint for learning how to re-create and reinvent ourselves. And I can see how it might be possible to generalize the same process of stepping back, re-evaluating, and taking a somewhat different and more helpful course. The new course would take into account how things actually are, rather than some idea of how they should be.

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