Drama, tantrums, anger, resentment, rage — most of us employ these emotions here and there, some of us more often than others, perhaps. But, I am here to tell you it is perfectly okay to do that. There’s really nothing wrong with it, as long as you are using these emotions to stay asleep. As long as you are not harming another being with those difficult emotions. Now if I actually want to wake up to my true nature, then, well … that would be a different matter. But if I decide to stay asleep a while longer, I’d rather zone out on sugar (mmm, caramel.) Sugar can give me the best feeling. I can grab a jar of caramel, a spoon and sit in front of the television for the entire night. At the end of the night I’ll feel like crap, of course, but, what a night! Drama? Count me in. Gossip? I’m your girl. Join me for a caramel malt after dinner? Why ever not?
The why ever not, of course, comes the next day. Just like waking up from a drinking binge, or an eating binge, or an anything-but-the-middle-way binge feels like crap because … Come on, you know the answer. Because it feels like CRAP, and as folks on a journey, we are trying to not feel like crap in order to put our energy into coming awake to our true purpose in life. All the self-destructive habits we can think up actually get in the way of our path. They become addictions we employ when we don’t want to experience self-realization. And why would we want to? It is damn difficult. It hurts. It causes us suffering. Where is the fun in that?
It is true: we can choose to stay asleep. We can go through our daily lives doing the same thing, feeling the same way. When the feelings that cause us unhappiness start to bubble to the surface, we have lots of distractions with which to push them back down. We are all quite welcome to do that, or, we can choose to WAKE UP! BTW, a lot of people simply jump in and out of the pool, so to speak. I tried that for a long time, but each time I came awake and then went back to sleep, I was in even more discomfort than before I started to wake up. You can’t un-know what you already know and that is, there is a better way to live.
If you are still following this blog, it is my guess you are not here for just the asana practice. There is some part of you that is tired of feeling sick and tired. There is some part of you that has an inkling life could be better, even enjoyable. You know, deep down, your life doesn’t have to be a roller coaster of out of control emotions, or unhappiness.
And what exactly does staying asleep mean? There are many definitions, of course. But I’m pretty sure you’re not thinking about the thing you do in bed.
At this point I need to point out I’ve known people who have always known the middle road. I’ve known people, one for almost my entire life, who have always been at peace, always happy, never knocked off center by life. Some people are actually born AWAKE. To them I give a bow of gratitude for not adding to the collective angst, for showing me there is a life without strife. You know who you are: you’ve lived a life without regret. Your intention toward others has always been one of love and compassion. You set an example for all of us and give us hope we too can find our way along the path of life. I am in awe of you and strive, daily, to catch up to you on the path.
If you’ve come this far with me, you might be starting to be curious about the idea of having a spiritual path. I think, early on, I convinced you yoga is not only for the purpose of getting in shape. So then what the heck is it?
If you think back to the Yamas and Niyamas you’ll remember they were kind of like a road map of how to live your life. But, of course, they weren’t anything you didn’t already know. You just probably need to remind yourself now and then.
So again we slowly approach Pratyahara, its complexities, its secrets. Withdrawal of the senses doesn’t mean moving into a cave and living on tofu and water. Could it mean, perhaps, choosing to live a mindful life by withdrawing from drama? By not consuming too much alcohol? By giving up anger?
Here Charles Macinerney gives his interpretation:
Pranayama: I hope by now you’ve made breathing exercises a daily part of your life. When I was first introduced to this concept, I thought it, like Sivasana, was a total waste of time. I’m an athlete, and I wanted yoga to be about exercise and getting a good hard workout. How could breathing properly possibly help? I’m here to tell you that breathing properly makes everything in my life better, including exercise. Breathing properly makes me calm, focused, mindful. When I take the time to pay attention to my breath, I end up paying attention to every facet of my being. It’s as simple as that. I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating. We have a primary and a secondary breathing system. Many people use only, or primarily, the secondary system. The primary breathing system employs the diaphragm. The secondary system uses the chest. If only the secondary system is used, our bodies go into what is known as ‘flight or fight’ mode. We expel chemicals throughout our body to help us run away from bears (though don’t do that, they’ll outrun you … more on that later.) These chemicals actually do damage to our bodies. Consider the heart. When cortisol goes to the heart, it causes damage. Cholesterol does its job and goes to repair the damage the cortisol (and its friends) cause. Unfortunately, too much cholesterol to the heart can build up into something called plaque. Prestochango, before you know it you’re on the floor with someone beating on your chest. Now who wants to live that way (or not, as the case may be.)
Try this experiment: Go ahead and lay on the floor. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. You tell me, which rises and falls more? (Here is where you say The Abdomen!) Good job.
ASANA: Last night I took a yoga class. It was wonderful. I told the teacher I would be stealing her ideas, so I don’t think it is really stealing (right?) Here is what we did:
A long warm up, then into,
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Warrior I (Virabharasana I)
Warrior II (Virabadrasana II)
… and a long Sivasana (the words sound really beautiful in Sanskrit.)
Thank you for reading along. I hope you have many insights you’ll care to share.
Many blessings to you, Chris