Faith In Your Practice

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 I took a photo of this 12th century column in the city of Perpignan, France this summer. I thought it was very fitting that an ancient, sturdy, firm and aligned column had the name Garrigue name on it. I always appreciate the notes David Garrigues shares on Facebook and through his blog. Today he wrote for quite a bit about faith and refueling in general. The last paragraph was the poem below. If there was ever a need to remind yourself of why you practice in writing, use  your very best penmanship and write yourself this little note to hang or pin by your practice space.
“How soon do you forget what you just learned in practice? Almost immediately How soon does doubt replace faith? Almost immediately How soon is meditation replaced by distraction and scatteredness? Almost immediately How soon is the bright fire you kindled during practice diminished to a faint glow in the hearth? Almost immediately, How soon is the wisdom you gain, even the deep wisdom covered by ignorance? Almost immediately There it is, But I and you begin again Almost Immediately”

How I Finally Sleep Again

I casually clicked on this NYT video last week and stumbled on ASMR.  The good news is I am one of those few who respond to Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The bad news is that I cannot sleep without listening to the girl with the Dutch accent who has no idea she is holding a Lilac bloom, and I know subscribe to her youtube channel. My second favorite is the Lego lady. Don’t judge me, I have not slept this well in years and hopping right to the mat is way easier now.

 

Metaphors

It might be seeing evidence of progress in reaching out for patience when things get stuck or malfunction. Maybe it takes six years of the yoga. Also, and feel free to laugh, this internet connection sometimes provides free good advice therapy and inspiration all in one tweet some days. For instance today, I read a tweet from cyber acquaintance  fellow ashtangi Tony which said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I read this before reclaiming my tiny go cart that my daughter had been borrowing to go shopping for her own ride. It turns out she and her husband pulled on the emergency brake so hard this time, that I can’t push it back down and it is completely stuck. If I had done this before surfing the cybernets and finding that quote, my story for this would be- this is a symbol of what is happening to my life right now  and the emergency brakes are always on and there is no emergency. Instead ,I remembered the twitter oracle and decided to wait until later to try again, or wait for Ray to give me some alternatives, or call Scion for my free 24 months roadside assistance if I decide it is necessary. I have also began exercising some patience with that extra breath I have to take before Astau in Sury B which I always feel embarrassed and guilty for taking, until I realized I was alone and it was not like I could do it without taking it and was not doing it on purpose. Which curiously enough, the person over at Cultfit wrote today about how we sometimes ruin our experiences by wanting to be in sync with the “crowd”. Yes, even when they are not in the same room. Stopping or slowing down do not equate to incorrect or bad. It is what it is.

Limitation Shredder

I know a bunch of you who practice alone either because you prefer it so or you are a teacher who needs to get their practice in before you put the proverbial oxygen mask on others. I am today however going to go on and on about how group practice dissolves all excuses, and self limitations. I have been repeating to myself for a number of years that my excess weight prevents me from performing certain asanas without modifications. Last fall (more or less) a cute shalamate with similar build  and shape started practicing and she now rocks everything. From her chaturanga to her backbend. I also repeat the I started at fifty litany frequently when I get frustrated or chicken out of taking things to the next level. well there is someone who has a few more years on her than I do and now that she is retired she has made all arm balances into an art form. And then there is my teacher, for those who say that  beautiful advanced practices are for people who forgo any other profession and endeavor or for pampered suburban fraus. My teacher does her practice, runs her shala, manages her home and runs her own family restaurant/artisanal bakery. So there goes that. Gang support, as many levels of society can attest, is a potent  source of power. Next time I jot something down will probably be from San Diego, I’m looking forward to AYC, but to be honest I am at this point way more excited about lounging and dipping into the hotel pool.

Raising The Bar

Ashtanga, so famous for it’s ambitious type A practitioners. Infamous for causing strong sensations which may or not be labeled pain. Impressive when you watch an advanced practice, and even when you just watch a  determined beginner. Most famous probably for *earning* or having to patiently wait to be given/taught/allowed another asana, or begin a new series. Most other classes might begin with the teacher asking “any requests?” Meaning any poses a student might like to include in the sequence. So, I think I am allowed to generalize by saying ashtangis have to be more vigilant than many other practices to stay in the present moment, because we are always committed to improving and refining. Thank goodness for dristhi and the sound of your breath because they are what keeps me and most of you in the now. There is nothing wrong with wishing to be better or being unsatisfied with the pace of progress, but it has taken me six years and a month to really understand that if I do not derive some pleasure and appreciation of what I can do now, today, this moment, what comes next gets either delayed, or it arrives when the conditions are unfavorable and you have to give it all back. I have done seven days of very very light practice. 15 minutes max. But I have enjoyed them in a fresh new way, experiencing contentment. A very unfamiliar feeling, which I can describe as satisfaction without the desire to critique or evaluate. I finish a ten day juice fast on Wednesday. I spaced out and scheduled a lunch tomorrow with a lovely friend that I have been looking forward to seeing. If you read this N, I hope you don’t mind that I sip herbal tea while you eat and we talk. “I don’t always finish a fast….” :D But when I do, sitting practice and sleep are beyond expectation!

How Many Identities Are You Shopping For?

I read this article this morning http://www.everydayayurveda.org/live/ayurveda-political-practice-part-one-economic-justice    which is day four of a self prescribed Ayurvedic cleanse based on an evaluation I was given a couple of years ago, so reading this piece was nothing but timely. Matthew writes long and hard, but if you quit reading, it would be because it starts to feel a bit uncomfortable to see that like me, we might be acquiring knowledge of our dosha, our blood type, our body shape, our astrological sign, and our ethnic ancestry to hoard/shop for permanent, constant, unchanging, optimal health and well being. That is not the only point, or even the most important point he makes here. I could not do this cleanse, commute for 2 and a half ours, teach for 7 hours, and come back to cook and do laundry. Heck, I’ve had to do my practice at home because of the unexpected dashes to the loo. So I guess that you have to schedule your health tune ups to replace your already scarce leisure time if you are a working stiff.

#DryApril

I had a non-alcoholic January and a semi-non -alcoholic February. I had a rather alcohol fueled March because every day  that my daughter has been home has been like throwing a dinner party. She needed that, deserved it, and I enjoyed it. I had decided to clean up as they say this month in preparation to maybe learning something from those good people over at AYC in San Diego next May, and don’t you know that I am not the only one psyched about being dry in April? I discovered on twitter today that #DryApril is a thing! I will only make an exception sometime around the 15th when I have a dinner date with someone from Texas. Sounds like a 40 days and 40 nights kind of biblical thing, but in my case 39 because no way I turn down meeting someone awesome just to ocd on a being on a roll.

To Not Want

I had a very interesting short conversation the other day about control, ritual and routine. It will be no surprise to hear that all unofficial data points to ashtangis being a bunch of control freaks. Even the lazy ones like me. The illusion of having control over one’s daily existence is almost like a precondition for serenity, and what better way than starting it with the ritual of practice? It is not effortless like brushing your teeth or taking that shower, You are taking action like Krishna recommends. What happens when injury, helping someone during the time you ordinarily practice, or/and waking up groggy from the two glasses of sulfite strong wine you had with friends the night before, get in the way of that practice ritual? You mean after you scold yourself for not pre-planning /protecting the ritual? You either make it up later during the day (phew) or nag yourself in 40 or 90 minute intervals. Nothing wrong with any of that until you no longer need to do any of that because well, you don’t need to. That’s all. Yesterday was a combination of realizing that I was doing all of that, and having a really hard time not doing that. Even after having spoken with conviction the night before about the illusion of control, and wanting to follow through with taking the action of letting go, I  didn’t let go. I woke up ashamed  for not feeling well, annoyed that my daughter needed the car during the window where the shala is open for practice, and practicing handicapped and physically uncomfortable that afternoon. I have always nodded when I hear “I have never felt sorry to have done my practice”. But I will admit that what felt better yesterday was not the practice itself but that I did not break the appointment/ritual/agreement, not the practice itself. In other words,  that I kept a semblance of control thank goodness. Today I am sitting with the feeling that it is 3rd Friday of the month and I strongly did not want to put myself through intro to 2nd while wanting to attend group meditation, but how odd would it be if I just drove for that. I am also sitting with the impulse of doing penance by driving up to an 11 AM led class, while it would be perfectly fine to do a laid back primary at home today. Now that is a difficult practice: Feeling peaceful about feeling unsettled, and getting there without your calming ritual or your usual go to replacement. That unfortunately also takes practice.

Proceed Calmly

If you are alarmed by someone’s verbal abuse it is important to calm those vrittis first before you take action. Sometimes the vrittis do not calm down but at least you do not botch your response to objectionable behavior. I was going to leave Sunday’s trolling unpleasantness alone until I saw that my friend was still being harassed in the comments section of her new blog entry. So after a very mentally busy home practice (it started snowing when I was about to leave) I decided to do a little retired suburban housewife with time on her hands online research. It is important to save a copy of everything you find, because for example if I had not saved an image of who could potentially be my friend’s and my tormentor, It would have disappeared by today and that image was quite helpful. Then you just need patience and time until you will eventually find a Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence with a place of employment, several Indian marriage/matchmaking registries with his data, a youtube channel, and several threads where there are inquiries about job searches in a certain Scandinavian country. So, what do you do with all this which you copied, saved, AND even printed you may ask? You take it to your local police department, You share it with your friend should she want to take it the Mysore Police Dept. and Maybe also offer it to her husband here in the states should he want to take further action. If you still have oodles of time you might want to investigate how to send this to the local police department in certain Scandinavian city, that matches his LinkedIn profile, and of course share with as many yogi friends who might want to know how to avoid receiving insults and threats. Being only 29 is no excuse for bad manners. But you have to do all this before you reveal what you collected and  generously shared because then of course there will be a lot of panicked but too late deleting. Oh, and report the verbal abuse to WordPress, but I haven’t heard from them yet.