Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Monday, 17 June 2013

Slip Sliding Away: Shifting Perspectives

We had our yoga teacher training intensive this weekend.  I was still tired from the rush to finish the tapestry project, so my plans for the weekend didn't go as smoothly as I hoped.  I was exhausted to the point of feeling ill, couldn't practise asana and faded out on the anatomy lessons for most of Sunday morning. It's embarrassing to find yourself having to nap during classes and to have the instructor check on you, the way teachers do when you're in grade school.  Everyone who notices your predicament is thoughtful, kind and concerned, but your ego cringes at bringing that kind of attention to your little Self.  A while back, I would have left class, frustrated and annoyed, cursing the fact that my mind wants to do things that the body can no longer do.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, there's been a shift in my perspective, a shift which I think has its roots in yoga and which is coming to fruition because of practice.  Despite the frustration of my limitations, I ended each day thinking that it had been good.

On Day 1, I couldn't practise asana, which gave me the opportunity to observe how things changed when people followed Colin's instructions about particular poses.  The movements became much smaller than we usually see in a regular yoga class.  It was very clear that, if you were working to do the pose as asked, you could focus on nothing else.  I could see bodies work; I could see minds work.  I had an opportunity to bring attention to practice in a way not normally open to me, an opportunity that I might not have had if I'd been feeling well enough to join the practice.    

Sarah taught anatomy on Sunday.  Anyone who has the opportunity to study anatomy with Sarah should seize the chance because she knows more about this subject than any medical personnel I've met.  It's her drive, her passion, and it shows in her work. Anatomy fascinates me, but even the gross details of the body don't stick in my head these days, never mind the finer points.  Anatomy also repels me.  Circumstance has given me opportunities to become very familiar with certain parts of my body.  Studying anatomy can be a trigger for some unpleasant flashbacks to past experiences.  It was a struggle to bring attention to the lessons.  That struggle failed in the morning, when my body checked out of the experience.  My mind was still there (for the most part), so I absorbed some of the lecture and by mid-afternoon, my body was more accepting of the lessons, too.

It's crucial to understand how the body works and what we need to do and not do in yoga to heal, not harm, so these detailed lessons expand our practice vastly.  Because my body felt unwell, I was able to experience a practical application of how the mind affects the body; had I been feeling better, I might have missed the sensations that hearing about how the body works actually causes in my body.  For a time, I became a bit of an experiment and, although it wasn't pleasant at the time, I could appreciate the opportunity.

By the time I arrived home Sunday evening, I was feeling much better.  A nap, some supper, and I was back up to speed by the evening, at least enough to watch another episode of Fringe, our current Netflix sci-fi viewing.  (As an aside, if you're a yoga practitioner and you haven't watched Fringe, you might consider doing so.  The show takes some of the things known about the mind and body through current scientific study and runs with it, posing the question, "What happens when science, technology and imagination allow us to do what we could once only dream?"  I find it very "yogic," but then I find most things yogic these days.)

Just as I was about to fall asleep, it occurred to me that-maybe, just possibly, I'm not quite sure, but it could be-this weekend may have shown me what it's like to experience a bad situation and not suffer from it.  It's not that you transcend the experience.  Everything about it was still unwelcome and unpleasant and I was not happy to be in it while I was in it. On the other hand, I didn't let my emotions and thoughts carry me away to a higher degree of discomfort.  At the end of the training session, I could appreciate the benefits of my experience.  I wasn't "making lemonade out of lemons."  (People who know me know that I'm not a Ms. Sunshine person at the best of times.)  There is a chance that I'm learning to open to the possibilities in whatever happens Now.

I may be full of it.  I may just be rationalising, telling myself that it was okay to feel badly. Maybe not.  Maybe this weekend was a gift.  Maybe my practice is allowing me to discover that.


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