Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Monday, 31 March 2014

Free Bird/Fragile Bird: On the Importance of Allowing Space

When I hauled myself out of bed this morning and checked, the weather office had posted that the temperature was -17C/-25C windchill. I grumbled.  Those winter clothes I had packed away-out they came again and on they went, as I bundled up once more and headed to the yoga studio.  Despite these bitterly cold temperatures, there's a shift on the wind.  The sun is warmer, fire bouncing off ice.  The days are longer; the smell in the air has a faint scent of loam and the grasses to come.  Birds are singing.  As I continued along streets and through parks, I could feel my mood lighten and lift.  After months of tense, tight, hunched shoulders, I felt-Space.

That same sense of relaxed openness was Colin's theme in our class today.  He talked about stretching and wondered whether stretching actually does much good.  After all, it can take a good hour or two to stretch out our bodies, only to have that stretch undone with worry or with the first time we slip on the ice. Undoing the stretch would take all of 10 seconds, so which was more important, he asked, the stretch or relaxation? For the next hour and a half, we explored moving in non-yoga-tradition ways, stretching, slipping and sliding, with our socks on and our bodies off our mats.  It was a very giggly, wise-cracking class (Bert was there), so much so that Colin assured any newcomers that he did in fact teach traditional yoga poses in other classes.  This was his pre-April Fool's Day Special.  (I will not tell you what his actual April Fool's Day plans are.)

It felt wonderful to move again, after months of winter, study and post-surgical recovery.  As I wandered home, I thought about how important it was to allow spaciousness into the day, how remaining relaxed and open might affect our perspective on everything.

For the past few days, I've been spinning yarn samples for an upcoming article. The fibre I'm using is a soft wool top, likely Merino, dyed and prepared by a yarn company famous for its soft yarns in gorgeous colours.  Coincidentally, I've been reading complaints about this particular preparation, from experienced spinners and novices alike, who have found this top difficult to spin.  Although it's not my favourite fibre option, I haven't had trouble with the spinning.  I knew this wasn't because of my spectacular skills; far more masterful spinners than I have had a lot of trouble with the fibre.  As I read about their struggles, it occurred to me that at least some of the problems in spinning this yarn might have been mitigated if the fibre had been allowed some Space.  It's a cottony, short wool, sold in a tightly braided package. Many of those having trouble with it had opened the braid and started spinning without allowing the fibres to relax. I had undone my bundle, set up my wheel and then left the fibres overnight, which loosened them up and made for much easier drafting. (I'd like to claim this was a light bulb moment.  Truth be told, I simply got distracted by some other shiny, pretty thing-darn that Raven!-and wandered away from my wheel for a day or two. When I returned, the fibres had transformed.)

I also noticed that several spinners had trouble spinning the fibre when they used Short Forward Draft, which, for many spinners, is the default spinning style for this type of fibre preparation. Some spinners use only that technique for spinning worsted yarns, because, they've been told, that is the correct way to spin this yarn. My default worsted drafting style is Short Backward Draft. It's a sometimes controversial technique (yes, there is such controversy in the spinning world), but I find that the sliding motion of that technique (instead of pulling forward as in SFD) can help the yarn form more smoothly. Depending upon who you ask, there are reasons to use it and reasons not to use it, but refusing to consider using it at all closes off my spinning options.  It takes away Space.

I won't show you the yarn in progress, because it's reserved for something else.  I'm not really talking about yarn, anyway.  Instead, I'll give you another example of the way in which allowing an open approach to possibilities might affect our perspectives.  Dallas Green (City in Colour) is an artist, a great songwriter with an incredible voice.  His "Fragile Bird" speaks to me, musically and lyrically.  Yesterday, I went poking around on YouTube and discovered a mini-movie for the song and another version in which Dallas sits in what appears to be a guitar shop and simply sings.  Version 1 gives you a script for the song.  It sets the theme, the meaning and the emotions for that version of "Fragile Bird." In Version 2, Dallas plays his guitar.  He sings.

When I watch the first video, I'm just that: The Watcher. With so much information, my experience of the song is much smaller. I observe. The second version leaves me with a song, my imagination and room to grow.  I become that Fragile Bird.

Sometimes it feels right to work from set patterns or scripts.  You know the moves, you know what's coming and how things will end. At least, you think you know. Sometimes it feels good to jump into Space and see where you land.  If it doesn't feel like the time to jump, then sit.  Sit and and move and "sploosh." Open up into Spaciousness.  Practice relaxing.  Because, as we know, Practice Makes Perfect."



  1. sploosh! another great blog...thanks

    1. Thanks for another great class. Your halo it glows!