Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sit Still and Enjoy Going Deeper

The French Philosopher Pascal said that all human happiness comes down to the ability to sit still in a room alone.

Why do you think that is?
We're together on this one.
The simple act of sitting by yourself without distraction. Distraction from what?

(Where ever you go there you are)

Yourself. But maybe more than that. Maybe just what is. A percentage yourself and a percentage the world around you. The very amorphous moment that is now. Contact with this gives an unexplainable sensation of peace. Quietude. Continuance.

I once heard that if you don't find sitting still interesting, than sit for longer. 5, 10, 15, 60 minutes... things become more interesting. True that! I strongly recommend that you try it.

Sitting still for elongated periods shifts your awareness from the gross to the subtle. Yoga shifts your awareness from the dense to the refined and ethereal. Yoga shifts your awareness from your external sense environment to the internal environment of your mind body matrix. Once this is established and explored it expands you back out into your environment- without losing your awareness of the inner world. Then you are moving in two directions. Expansion happens. Amplification. Vertically you are ascending to your natural potential and horizontally you are interconnected with others and the earth the way you innately know you can be. Openness happens in the mind and body. You can be in a relationship that is harmonious with yourself and the other. Give/receive, love/be loved, inhale/exhale.

Sitting still for elongated periods you can help you to be more in tune with your body and mind. Where do the thoughts come from? Where do they go? Can you do this without thinking about the proper answer or what someone else would say? Can you not only feel the skin but the flesh? The place in your chest where your heart is... in front of the spine and behind the sternum? Can you feel it beating? Can you be in tune with one single cycle of inhale and exhale? Which nostril has a more open channel for air? Which lung expands more freely and is it related to the weight on your sitting bones?

How interesting.

While sitting with your eyes closed you don't care about what you look like or about what others think of you... and it is not like you don't care because you are too smart or good to care about such things, but just because you actually DON'T CARE. The way you FEEL is much more interesting and enthralling.

Who knew?

I was hiking up a trail the other day and I ran into a nice gentleman and we struck up a conversation about yoga. He was telling me how he really wants to get back into yoga but the type of class he was looking for was specific. He really hates it when the teacher asks the students to feel the relationship of their anus to the roof of their mouth. He just wants a good stretch.
No judgement on that! A good stretch is an amazing experience!
However, these things may seem silly at first but with a bit of practice they seem completely valid and interconnected to the state of the asana. If you can feel the dome of your perineum and the dome of your palate and their striking similarities... chances are you are not entangled in a cluster of tricky thoughts that are distracting you from the moment- and from actually living your life.
And.... (this is all stuff I need to be reminded of, so when I'm talking about you I am not pointing any fingers, I'm really talking about us)
Maybe the next time you go to the store you will actually remember those eco reusable bags. And you won't forget that really nice person's name. (Doh!) And when you are listening to someone tell their story of sadness you will be totally present with them and will give them the space to tell it. And when you are angry with someone because your own agitation levels are in the red, you will take a deep breath and not say the nasty little thing that is on the tip of your tongue. When you are climbing you will be absorbed in the upward flow without thinking of falling. When you are riding or skiing or biking you will hit the tranny without hesitation. When you are hanging out with your child you will understand the primal, ready and uninhibited ways of an innocent youth... without getting angry. When you have an interaction with an animal you will be able to speak to them without uttering any sounds.

And you won't take yourself too seriously for making any mistakes if you slip up... you'll know they are in the past, which has no business in the present moment - that you can observe as you sit still in a room alone.


Asana Tip for the Day (Inspiration from Patricia Walden):
In Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) press the OUTER shoulder down into the mat. Press the outer elbow down into the mat.
Be aware of the shoulder blades and press them onto your back so the upper spine curls in to the space behind your heart. Don't let your middle back be dead in the posture. Lengthen strongly the latissimus dorsi muscles on both sides and sharpen your inner leg so it journeys UP to the ceiling.
Spread your toes and soften your facial muscles.
Lift your chin a small amount so that there is a space between the back of your neck and the floor and the C7 is lifting away from the floor ever so slightly.

1 comment:

yen said...

Lydia, you are amazing. Thanks for this.