Monday, March 19, 2007

Freedom from the known

It's a book by Krishnamurti that I'm re-reading at the moment. I finished it and then turned back to the front and started again. Yes, it's that good but also I had the awareness of just how much of it was going over my head, so hopefully a second reading will allow a little more to permeate my little grey cells . . . : )

In the book K talks about how we are constrained in our lives through authority. This authority comes in many forms - some obvious: societal, parental etc; others less so, such as the internal authority we have as an established framework within us that is a structure built from our previous experiences. These "truisms" are borne of our past and passed experiences yet we hold onto them and when we do we view life and ourselves with "the authority of yesterday" and in doing so never truly see or interact with what is before us in the actual moment.

To be completely present in a moment, letting go of preconceptions, knowledge, frameworks, traditions, structures etc is to free from this authority of the past, this freedom leaves you open to full experience of what is before you. This is newness, freshness, and is invigorating. Rejecting authority (which is different than rebellion or revolt), means that you are free, no longer looking to others, no longer fearful (because there is no right or wrong, no fear of mistake), and living fearlessly is a tremendous unburdening of all the dead weight you have been carrying with you as baggage to this point.

Basically I haven't captured the ideas nearly as well as he has but it is something that I do think about, the limitations we perceive in our lives which are self created realities; if we are unwilling to admit entry to other possibilities then the absoluteness of our realities are assured. It is far easier to perceive in others than in ourselves, I think we often see people we care about who have a strong belief about themselves or the circumstances of their life which just do not appear so to us yet the totality of their convincement actually manifests what they believe. In subtle ways through their reactions, actions, words they create subtle beginnings or seeds that grow into fully formed realities of their own invention.

We do the same things in our own lives but, we are living so much within our own framework that we fail to see or perceive it. Living each moment in full awareness of ourselves, letting go of knowledge, allows learning to take place in the moment, and allows other options to slip through the web of possibilities.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

In the old days they didn't have TV . . .

And neither do we. But, we also don't have a piano to sit around singing songs, we do however have a camera to sit around pulling faces . . .





no excuses

hey, noone said they were tuneful in the old days . . .

Tantra and Life

I'm writing an essay (hear the creaking of those brain cogs that have been long rusted into an unfortunate modern scrap metal sculpture). The subject of which is the title of this blog. It is a fascinating topic, sort of the yoga equivalent of that English Lit major topic: Shakespeare is as relevant today as he was in Elizabethan England. Discuss.

It is extremely tantric that I realise as writing this essay that the essence of Tantra (the interrelationship of all things and the highest form of reality being any and everything that is before us right now, in a positive sense) marries together my above paragraph and yoga. For me, asana is the antidote to the cliche "use it or lose it". What is called the "natural aging process" is in fact the mistreatment of fine machinery. With the exception of those living with inherited ailments of the body most of us start life in a shiny new machine which we then overwork without oiling, fuel with the wrong energy and then leave out in the rain to rust and then complain bitterly about the shoddy machine we've been given to drive.

Yoga, as I understand it is beautiful. It is not about touching your toes. Which is the first thing that most people guiltily confess to me when they discover I am a yoga teacher. It is not about bigger better faster more or give up slump down laze round complain, the Western approach to life. It is about noticing the beautiful thing that our body is. The body and mind are our whole means for experiencing and perceiving this world.

They are not who we are. They change, whatever we define as "ourselves" is unchanging at its essence. If we think back to ourselves as children, obviously we have changed physically and mentally, yet it is undeniable that whoever it is that is having this experience, is the same as the person we remember from then, there is some essential "us-ness" or "me-ness"that remains unchanged.

Yoga Asana is recognition and maintence of your Tonka truck, to see the driver through their lifetime. It is not about comparing yourself to someone else in your class, there is no Olympic medal for toe touching that I am aware of. I am also unaware of any compelling argument to convince me of the superiority of one who can touch their toes to one who can't. If you can articulate it to me or better yet yourself I would be very interested in hearing that hypothesis.

As in yoga, as in life. So ask yourself, What stops me from doing things which conceptually there is no reason why I couldn't do? Is it your mind? The mind is a faithful servant to us, but is the blind servant who doesn't see dangers heading straight for the master because of their devotion to their regular duties.

As we engage in the habits and rituals that are familiar and comfortable we turn away from the challenging, the unexpected, the different and we live on a kind of autopilot which makes the mind dull. Yoga is about awakening the mind from this soporific stupor that drains our energy and our inspiration. When we truly engage with and interact with what is before us, instead of what we decided would be before us before we even looked or engaged with it, there is a kind of beauty and newness to things that is always there but that we usually fail to see. Nothing has changed in the scenario, barring our awareness.

When you do asana (yoga poses) this is precisely the skill that you are exercising. Before you "do" yoga it looks a lot like assuming an outlandish pose, along the lines of "strike a pose" for the camera. In fact, the external appearance of the pose is a partial and indeed rather superficial appearance of what is happening when we practice asana, much like the way that the photo of a person is not the essence of the person it portrays.

Yoga poses blend many different things to teach us about ourselves. They are not about creating the most intense sensation that we can possibly bare. They are not so much about where you can and can't touch the body physically as mentally. Can you let your mind be present with you in the pose instead of wandering off somewhere else on a Sunday stroll to what you will have for dinner tonight, how much you need to cut your toenails, that great gadget/dress/magazine you want to buy, where to go on your holiday . . . ?

Can you work with your body rather than battling against it? Can you help it to gently extend what it can do, rather than berating or lamenting it for what it can't. Can you strengthen it, without punishing it through over exertion? Can you listen to what it is telling you at any given moment, hear what it is asking for?

Can you be honest about where you are at rather than where you would like to be at, or where the person next to you is at? Can you take the responsibility for how you treat your body rather than blaming your injuries or exhaustions on the person who your mind helpfully edited so you didn't have to listen to all those bits you felt didn't apply to super heroic/poor little you?

Can you be compassionate to yourself? Can you acknowledge that you are doing the best that you can right now, with what you have? Not so much physically, although yes, here too, but more in your mental efforts.

There is an awful lot to remember and then do. Having a running commentary in your head lambasting every little thing you do wrong as you attempt to keep a positive attitude and to keep on making effort, seems a little counterintuitive, no? Yet for many people this is a very great challenge. This is again the mind. It has that feeling that parents have when their kids start to assert their individuality and independence (I imagine), and feels a little worried that its role is being taken for granted at best and supplanted at worst. In fact, it is the same as the parent - child relationship. There will always be appropriate times for interaction, advice, a common face turned to the world. And there will equally be times when the child is on their own, experiencing and interpreting the world for themselves.

I could go on with this. But mercifully ( :) ) I shan't. I'll just say that to find a yoga teacher who you understand in some way who can keep you safe physically in the poses (for they are still a large part of the practice) and teach you to love learning about yourself, the world and the correlation and interconnection between the two is an amazing and beautiful thing. I hope you can and will let your mind sidetrack its routing from letting that information come in to its end destination of "No, I can't" to take the alternative route; "Maybe I can. I can".

ps. Superyogi tip: If you can't touch your toes bend your knees ; )