February 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
I think it’s almost a year now since I started the Intermediate series. But honestly, it wasn’t until October that I embraced it as part of my regular practice. Meaning, doing all of Primary + whatever in Intermediate I was given without question. Without trying to negotiate (read: shorten) the length of my practice for any kind of reason. There was a phase of wrist pain that required some backing off before it resolved itself, followed by some hip tension that also resolved itself. The most persistent ‘pain’ has been in the left psoas/hip+femur region with a consistent twinge in almost all the forward bends. I’ve lost track of how many months it’s been and have come to accept that there will always be a part of my body that will talk more loudly than others over the course of this practice. All I can do is listen, observe and give it space. C’est la vie.
Anyway. I can’t put a finger on what specifically changed in or around the October timeframe, but I think a couple of sessions with Peter Sanson, plus the return of both of our shala teachers to a regular teaching schedule helped. I re-committed to the practice, no questions asked and I discovered the more I adopted this attitude of non-negotiability and acceptance, the easier it was to just get on with it and filter out the hemming and hawing. It’s a lesson that returns every so often.
In the months since this re-commitment, it’s been fascinating to observe the practice’s impact on my life and my experience of being in the world. Physically not so much, but emotional and mental – goodness gracious. This nerve-cleansing business is intense, ugly, messy and pretty dark, but also compelling in a way that is very beautiful. It is most certainly transformative, and the most obvious effect is in the clarity of seeing. I see everything, and I mean everything, going on in my stream of consciousness so much more clearly than before. It is breathtaking to witness the thunderous current of thoughts and also very humbling to realize what I snarky bitch I am and how I just can’t seem to stop myself. It is tearing apart the social mask I wear (or think I wear) and showing me how much work there is to be done to master this mind. The poses are challenging me to cultivate a mental stamina that feels impossible on the mat, and showing up my tendencies towards fear and anxiety when faced with the uncomfortable and the unexpected. How I cling to the polarities (usually negative) when things don’t go according to plan and how easily my story-making mind weaves illusions and scenarios about people and their intentions. How all of these tendencies fundamentally come from a place of fear and a deep sense of worthlessness.
I see all this and wonder where I can even begin to effect change in this mental paradigm. Perhaps ‘change’ is not the goal, but in ’embracing’ this person that I see, warts and all, without judgement. Embracing my shadows: easy to say, hard to put into practice. Good thing I have the rest of my life to keep trying.