Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Optimism and Pessimism

Sunday Off
Monday 10:30 am with Connease
Tuesday 6:30 pm with Rohit

Every time I've had a bad class, I've consoled myself with the Scarlett O'Hara idea: After all, tomorrow is another day. And that's always true. But now I know that as bad as one class can be, its always possible for the next class to hit even harder.

I'm reminded of a joke my screenwriting teacher used to tell: The difference between an optimist and a pessimist. A pessimist goes around saying "Things are horrible, things are terrible, things can't get any worse than this." And the optimist says "Oh, yes they can."

It started getting bad in about the third breath of pranayama. I actually skipped a set of Standing Bow. That's never happened before. I know I'm just supposed to go where my practice takes me, but this was really testing my patience and resolve. How many times are you supposed to get knocked down before you throw in the towel? I don't know the answer to that question yet, and I hope I don't end up learning it.

I did learn one fairly useful thing about my practice. Even with things that bad, I didn't notice what was going on with others until Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee. At that point, when I hit the floor, I wondered if it was just me. I looked around and over half the class was down for the count.

By contrast, yesterday's class was just hard. I only missed one set of Triangle, and then a set of Locust. I bailed on Locust because of reflux issues, not because of stamina. Otherwise, the class seemed fairly normal, at least to me.

The difficulties came in the knee poses -- anything that involves fully bending the left knee is very hard for me. The wonder of the class, however, was that by the end it seemed like I had pretty much worked out whatever was wrong with the knee. And the rejuvenated knee lasted the rest of the night and even feels better today.

The funny thing was that after class Rohit commented on how hard the class seemed to have been for me. I think he could see some grimacing in the kneeling series, and definitely in the third part of Awkward, when he asked whether I was OK. Add the bout of reflux when on my belly, and I can see how he might have thought I'd had a train wreck of a class. And there I was thinking that it was good to be back on track again. I guess that shows how genuinely bad (scary bad) the last two classes had been.

The day 297 meditation makes a couple of points about craving. The first is that cravings result from dissatisfaction with your life as it is. The second point is that the way to get over cravings is simply to start living your life. This makes perfect sense to me now. Craving is in some ways the opposite of contentment. And contentment is not something that you are, but something that you practice. I think that's pretty much what this meditation restates.


Bosco said...

I love the joke about the optimist and the pessimist!

Last night's class absolutely kicked my butt. It was one of the hottest, and especially most humid classes ever. Whenever sweat is already dripping down my legs during the first set of pranayama breathing, I know I am in for a shakedown. At the outset I did everything I could to preapre myself to stay calm and focussed, and was very happy with the practice until after Triangle (by which time my Yogitoes mat was already 80% saturated). Then in the separate head to knee pose a switch kind of flipped and I began to panic, kind of lost my cool, and during the two minute savasana I convinced myself I had to use the restroom: shouldn't I have figured out how to stop lying to myself by now?

Anyway, after class and this morning, I don't think I have ever felt better. So I look forward to the next scorcher and will just try to do better, to be more persistent - in a calm and peaceful way. Or maybe just to pursue contentment, which as you point out is something you have to practice.

And speaking of craving: What about the poor guy in Time After Time: "I try not to fall in love with you, though time after time I do?" GET THIS GUY INTO BIKRAM!!

bikramyogachick said...

Great point about craving! I'm so sorry you've had horrible classes. It's really not fun, I know that from experience. As much as we can tell you "it's ok Duffy, at least you are going, let go of results", that doesn't help the way it makes you feel to have to go through all of that. Hang in there!