It was my last class with Miranda, at least for a while. She's leaving for Hong Kong on Thursday, and will go to Indonesia or Australia from there, because there is no Bikram in Hong Kong right now. And we will all be waiting with crossed fingers for the State Department to do the right thing.
Class was strong. I pushed even harder than usual, and thought about going down towards the end of standing series. Instead, I toughed it out. Somehow, I didn't want to let Miranda down and that made for an especially hard working class. I sometimes wonder about the range of work possible in Bikram. Even when I "take it easy," I'm generally working pretty hard, just easing off a bit on depth, maybe. And if I push to the point where I need to use my mouth for breathing, I sit out. So, you would think that there would be a fairly narrow exertion range in class. But my experience is otherwise.
Even staying with good form, and staying within my breath, there seems to be a wide range of how hard I can push myself. More interesting, is how important fellow classmates and the teacher are in how hard I'm able to push. When I'm near people who are dropping out, my energy just naturally drops. And conversely, surrounding myself with strong practitioners gives me a pretty big boost, probably bigger than it should.
It's likewise with the teacher. And on a night like last night, when we were basically saying goodbye to each other, I think everyone gave just a bit extra energy. The class was more together, and I just think that many people were trying to say goodbye to Miranda with the strongest, most upbeat class that they could give. And Miranda was returning the favor by being especially tough and motivating.
In the day 88 meditation, Gates talks about how yoga allows us to drop off layers of armor. By armor, I think he means the various defense mechanisms that people build up around themselves to protect them from insecurities, shortcomings, and various fears. He says that we often do not know when we have dropped a layer of protection, and because the protection is gone, this leaves us exposed to old fears and anxieties. As a result, practice might lead to times when it feels like we are regressing. This sort of regression is actually a sign of progress. Instead of relying on false defense mechanisms, we can either deal with our fears or simply let them go.
This is all well and good. But how does one know when its happening? If you don't know that you've shed one of your layers of armor, then how will you ever know if your regression is due to having shed the armor, or whether it's simply a regression. And then it occurs to me: this wanting to know the one from the other is simply another form of results oriented thinking. The answer, I suppose, is to have faith in the practice, stick with it even through difficult patches and see whether it serves well over a longer period.
In the end, this is one of those meditations that simply doesn't mean that much to me now. I haven't been practicing long enough to have hit any troubling regressions. So, I guess that its something that I will try to remember for when the time comes. It's interesting, but for right now simply does not have much practical import for me.