We are all becoming acutely aware of the difference in connecting for work or pleasure through the medium of technology as opposed to face to face interaction….we are all beginning to struggle with what Krista Tippet in her podcast “on Being” terms “zoomzaustion” and becoming as my beloved calls it “zoom zombies” but this time will pass and what will we have learned from it about connecting through the empty space?
This week I want us to simplify our practice so we can go deeper. To allow ourselves the time to simply be and see if we can stay fully present, this is where we move from doing the pose to being in the pose and allowing the pose to do something for us, a balance I feel I will be working on for the rest of my life.
We have forgotten to how to be guests inside our own homes, our bodies - we either run roughshod over all the compassionate rules of a harmonious house, trying to dominate it - smashing and breaking as we go or we become withdrawn and distant refusing to engage with our host. Whilst we are forced to socially distance from each other we can instead remember how to come home to ourselves. Like a wayward teenager trying to come home and make amends it won’t always be easy, there will be bumps in the road but with time and practice we will find a way back to balance - trust in time.
This is one of my favourite practices as taught to me by one of my favourite teachers Matthew Sanford. Somedays I get there, some days I don’t in itself that shows me how I am showing up each day and what I am bringing with me to the practice. Remember that wayward teenager is going to come home with a whole bag full of laundry!
Laying over a rolled blanket (see image below):
Now allow yourself to be there, feel into the centre of your chest, the seat of consciousness, can you come home to rest in that spot. Let the breath be gentle, natural (I still struggle with this one, once we start to observe the breath there is a tendency to overdo - trust that your breathing is just fine, it is enough)
Maybe this is it, maybe you stay here with this for a while give yourself time to land for a few minutes, hours, days.
When you have come in, taken your shoes off and made yourself at home it is time to explore the other rooms in the house, but you don’t want to lose that sense of ease. So gently from the back of the body, without disrupting the open vulnerability at the heart centre start to extend out through the back of the legs into the heels and beyond then out through the back of the arms and beyond…..none of this extension and expansion is to come at the expense of the ease and openness in the front body - you want to both stay fully present in the heart of the home and also see what lays beyond.
Then release and see how much you were able to both stay at the centre and reach outward simultaneously.
Repeat this as often as you need/can.
Now take that sensation into your practice, try some of your favourite poses done in the same way, can you be in Trikonasana and expand from the heart centre? If it gets lost too quickly in standing try taking your trikonasana down to the floor and find it laying on your back, or if you have wall space do it against the wall - notice how supporting the spine allows the mind to quieten and you to come back home. Once you have found the sensation on the floor or the wall keep practicing carrying it forward into all your poses.
Then practice carrying it forward into your interactions through technology, can you find grounding and stay present in the centre of your chest whilst your mind is being pulled by the glare of technology?
Practice and I know that you can.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
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In this time of uncertainty I have no wish to add to the noise in this world. I leave these writings for those I have shared Yoga with, so our community may continue and flourish - as ever take what you need and leave the rest...