Sunday, November 8, 2009

205/311 -

Friday Off
Saturday 9:30 am with Lenette

I was feeling off, and maybe a little bit sick, before class. By Eagle, all the ill feelings were gone, and class was simply nice and pleasant. The heat felt perfect. I didn't skip anything, and I didn't lag behind as the class wore on.

It's been a while since I've had a Lenette class, and its always fun. She made a big point about discipline somewhere towards the end of class. Her two points were: if you come in late, be a bit meek about it and hurry up and get into the class. A latecomer is an energy pirate.

And, if you are in the front row, you have taken it upon yourself to act as a leader. That doesn't mean your poses are perfect. It just means you are committed to sticking with the dialogue, trying your best, and staying still between poses. Even those can slack off some. Everyone has bad days. But if you are shifting from foot to foot, wiping yourself constantly, fidgeting in Savasanas, going into poses late all the time and coming out early, well, then maybe you should think about going to one of the other rows in your next class. (Thankfully, she wasn't talking about me. And besides, I was in the middle row this class.)

Libby hits on discipline from time to time. Amy is just too nice to call anyone out. At the most, she will make the most general suggestion to people. The other teachers tend simply to ignore discipline "problems." I tend to think that the discipline is a part of the practice, so I'm perfectly happy to hear people reminded about things like not drinking water at the wrong times, or lying down with the feet toward the back.

On the flip side, everyone's practice is their own. And if someone really thinks they need to wipe their sweat, or readjust the towel on their mat, there's no reason why it should bother me or anyone else. So I'm glad we don't have any true "drill sergeant" type teachers.

The good feeling that came along with practice didn't stick with me. I actually did get sick, but maybe not so sick as I otherwise would have. The Texas Asana Championships were today, and I was really looking forward to going and cheering on the folks I knew who were participating. I barely slept at all last night, and woke up feeling rotten. So I stayed in instead, and am pretty bummed that I missed these championships for the second year in a row. Oh well.

The day 278 meditation is both short and dense. I think I'll quote the whole thing:

The physical and mental calm that comes over us with pranayama practice makes it possible, often for the first time, for us to perceive the pain we are in. Rushing through our days, we feel only hints of the deep waters that swirl beneath our surface. In the stillness of practice, we dive right in. What I have found is that I have held the present a prisoner to my past. As I breath into my body, into my life, I glimpse an alternative reality, one in which I simply am.
I don't understand the first sentence. If pranayama brings us into physical and mental calm, how does it make it possible for us to perceive pains for the first time. I can understand how the absence of pain that one feels while in pranayama might make one more aware of the pain that they otherwise are in. But pain and calm don't generally go together.

When I was in my twenties, I lost a filling and had a back molar break into several pieces. My tooth had rotted away from underneath the filling. It led to my first root canal. I was very close to having an abscess, and my mouth was a swollen mess. The dentist did the first steps of the root canal in one visit, and after he was done, he apologized for any pain that he might have caused. But quite to the contrary, the very short sharp pains of the visit were nothing compared to the relief I felt afterward. I simply had not realized how much pain I had been living with for the past few months -- a nearly constant pain in my mouth and head that I had pretty much managed to ignore (at significant cost to my moods, as I soon realized). For me, that was a vivid example of becoming aware of a pain by removing it. And it's by thinking about this, that I can best understand what Gates might be trying to say here.

The deep waters that swirl beneath our surface are what I'm thinking of as suppressed pains. We do a much better job of suppressing past emotional hurts, those slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, than we do in ignoring a true physical pain. But the lasting damage from them is probably at least as great, if not greater, and I think its that kind of damage that Gates is referring to when he talks about being a prisoner to the past.


hannahjustbreathe said...

Not too many of my teachers make a point of reinforcing discipline either. I mean, some do, but it seems more the exception than the norm.

But, I agree with you---I appreciate it when teachers gently remind those fidgeters, heavy sighers, water gulpers, etc., that while it is a solitary practice, it is a shared energy in that room. You giveth and you taketh away.

Rebecca said...

I think the first sentence is saying that once we can get calm, we can become aware of any pain we might be feeling. Often we stay busy in an attempt to avoid emotional pain. If you are calm and still, there is time to look inside and see what's there and pain might be just waiting to be recognized.

Bosco said...

I think what the Meditation is saying is that the practice of pranayama helps to see that what is bubbling below the surface, which may not be our friend, is something that is a product of the past - and the pranayama practice, by requiring intense focus on the present - helps to enable us to put the past in the past where it belongs.