Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letting Go of Junk

Thursday 6:30 pm with Libby
Friday through Sunday off
Monday 6:30 pm with Sherry

Libby's class was great. I drank no water, for the first time in months, and as usual, it helped my alertness throughout class. Instead of slogging through from Camel to the end, I had some energy and was able to stay with the dialogue. It was one of the most fun classes I've had in a while.

I took Friday off because I planned to take it off. And then something hit me, and I woke up both Saturday and Sunday intending to go, but couldn't breath through my nose, and decided against. Yesterday was not much different, except that in addition to not being able to breathe, I had a bad headache. (Note: three days off of yoga = headache. Remember that next time, and maybe I can avoid it.)

So I went into last night's class with a splitting headache, and wondering if I was even going to be able to breathe through Pranayama. In typical Bikram fashion, I got the opposite of what I was expecting. I thought the room was a little on the cool side, but when I checked, it was perfect Bikram weather -- 105 degrees, 37% humidity.

My breath cleared up by Eagle. My headache was gone by Balancing Stick. My knee felt like it was improving throughout the class. I skipped the second set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Floor because I felt some strain in the knee. But otherwise, I felt good through everything.

The only notable thing in any of the poses is that I sort of flew backwards out of the first backbend. Sherry said "Well, I guess you found your edge." Then, in the second set, I concentrated on holding it more, and through my arms I could start seeing several feet down the back wall. In the past, I've talked about being able to see down to the ballet bar, and I still can do that. But that was looking past my arms, not between them. This is different, and I think that it means my arms are coming back closer to where they should be.

For a long time, I wondered why the dialogue for the first backbend says "Don't be scared." Yes, it felt odd, and I could get so I thought I was hallucinating in the bend. But it was never scary before -- I think because I was too inflexible to get to the tipping point. Now, I think I understand. I'm hitting a point where the pose just seems so unnatural that it really is a bit scary, because bending that far leaves you with no idea what is supporting your body. Add that to the general disorientation and I can now see where the fear enters in.

The day 300 meditation is about letting go. There are a bunch of rhetorical questions he asks, but I'm not so sure they actually are rhetorical. For example, "Can we really lose or own anything?" The answer he wants is "No." But my philosophical training rebels against this kind of question. The question is asking for absolutes, and thus ignores that words like "lose" and "own" are ordinary words that mean something in ordinary usage. The "really" in the question tempts people to jump outside of ordinary contexts. That temptation may be to a good purpose here. But typically its a mistake that leads to all sorts of philosophical conundrums. But enough of the brief foray into philosophy.

I really like the last two lines of this meditation: "Letting go is the opposite of fearing death; it is trusting life. When we let go of something;our hand opens and we are able to receive." Both parts of this are both simple and profound. The first is that letting go is an act of trust, and that trust, by itself, is worthwhile. The second is a bit more involved. The idea is that we can only deal with a certain number of things at any one time, and that letting go of things enables us to bring new, possibly better things into the mix. Clear your closets of junk, and you can start to collect new, better things.


bikramyogachick said...

I absolutely love the last paragraph of this post! I just may hijack that quote myself. Very good blog fodder. Strange with the backbend, I went through a brief period where I was scared also and had been practicing for 2 years, so felt it came out of nowhere. You are right, when you start to get more flexible, it just feels scary and unnatural, for a bit, until you get accomstomed to your new depth (which I am now)

thedancingj said...

Wow, Duffy, that last bit about letting go and making room is EXACTLY what I was just thinking about as I was walking along the beach 30 minutes ago. How did you get into my head?! Thanks for sharing those beautiful words.

Bosco said...

Great post! Those last two sentences reminded me of a passage I just read in a book written in the 1930’s which is a lengthy discourse on Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. The author says: “Everything belongs to the man who wants nothing. Having nothing, he possesses all things in life, including life itself. Nothing will be denied the man who denies himself. Having chosen to be utterly solitary, he now comes into possession of the most utterly social fact in the universe, the kingdom of God.” So, in short, letting go of everything provides access to everything. (This is the author’s “take” on the Beatitude which says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” – obviously an extreme extrapolation, but interesting.)

I have never gotten to the point where the backward bend actually makes me afraid, as you have described. It always makes me really dizzy, however.