Saturday, January 23, 2010

Willingness to no Longer be in Pain

Tuesday off.
Wednesday 6:30 pm with Sherry
Thursday 10:30 am with Lenette
Friday 6:30 pm with Rohit

Each of the classes was good in its own way. Wednesday was one of those days where the body was willing, but my mind was all over the place. I started with some worries about my ability to even get through the class. But everything settled out, and overall it was very good.

Thursday's class was better. I thought the room was cool, but I was wrong. Instead, the humidity was down just a little bit, to maybe 35%. It's amazing how much of a difference a small humidity change makes for me. For the first time in what seems like ages, I didn't skip any of the poses. And Friday was pretty much the same, except that I missed the second set of Standing Separate Leg Head to Floor, to spare my left knee.

Here's something I've been wondering about. I tend to have really good classes with the same teachers. And, of course, these teachers also are the ones I like the best. The question is about cause and effect. Do I have good classes with the same teachers because they are really good teachers (at least for me)? Or do I have good classes with them simply because I like them so much? Or is it the other way around? Meaning that for some other reason, or perhaps coincidentally, I have these good classes, and then I tend to associate them with the teachers I seem to like best. I don't know the answer to this. (And don't get me wrong. I don't dislike any of the teachers at our studio. I actually like them all, but as with other things, I have minor preferences even among those that I like. It's kind of like my preference for Beethoven over Mozart, or Chopin over Liszt.)

The day 301 begins with an interesting idea: that our practice centers on "a mature willingness to no longer be in pain." I think that Gates is probably right about this, but it sounds strange when thinking about Bikram's "torture chamber." I've heard some teachers quote Bikram as saying that we endure 90 minutes of pain in his class to avoid 90 years of pain outside. But I think dancingj summed it up better in a comment on an earlier post. That post was about pain masquerading as pleasure (like stuffing yourself at Thanksgiving), and she commented that Bikram yoga was the opposite: pleasure masquerading as pain.

Gates goes on to say something I don't quite understand. He says that this willingness comes from an acknowledgment of two admittedly contradictory things. First, that we are powerless. And second, that we are absolutely responsible for all of our actions. Even if I knew how to wrap my mind around the contradiction (and I think it has to do with gaining access to abilities we hadn't thought we had by letting go), I still don't see quite what it has to do with a willingness to no longer be in pain. There's something about this idea that I simply do not understand.

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