Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What did you learn?




Asana is like an ocean - you have to immerse yourself in it completely and explore its bottomless depths. Any asana can take you to a state of yoga. But if you just remain on the surface, your experience of yoga will remain limited. It will only be physical exercise. -
Sharath Ji

Coming home is always interesting. The flood of questions never cease. Me, I'm quiet. When we turn inward we tend to talk less, eat less, need less. Content to be, yet committed to my work in a world of turbulence and in a city of sleepless souls, I float like a ghost, alien to it all. I imagine it's similar to the experience of a diver emerging, feeling the affects of change in pressure. We've been diving deep here.

To build on Sharath's beautiful analogy, sometimes you step into the water and and you just don't know how deep it is. I remember clearly when I visited Montauk this summer how one moment I was standing waves up to my waist and then the ground was gone. Yoga can be like that. Most people have no idea of the depth when they first stick their toes in. The water is cloudy and mysterious. But as it starts to settle, more layers are revealed.

We approach yoga from the physical standpoint because yoga is a state to be experienced. Though it can be discussed and analyzed, ultimately it is felt. So, you come in and you start to move your body and match those movements to your breath. Perhaps over time you feel a little lighter, more flexible, stronger. Maybe you start noticing some other changes as well, temperament, sleeping, eating, cravings, desires, more awareness of choice in action. For some people courage increases and will power also builds.

One day you may have a feeling of nothingness in an asana when eyes are steady on dristhi and ears on breath. Then deeper questions may arise.

For each practitioner the experience is unique. Some will dive in very fast, but may race back up for air when they see how bottomless it is. Better to practice as Guruji always advised, "slowly, slowly, all is coming". When you are ready the right question comes bubbling up to the surface and the appropriate answer is there in the book you happen to be holding, or out of the mouth of your teacher or sitting inside your heart where it's always been, just waiting.

I've been diving deep here, but the deeper I go the more I feel the vastness of my landscape, the bottomlessness of this ocean. I will not be able to tell you I now know yoga, just like I couldn't return from Montauk and tell you I know the the ocean. And it will not be too helpful for me to recite to you what I learned, just like a simple recounting of the sand, shells, and water wouldn't give you more than an outline of the beach. Rather, I will take you out into the water and I will show you where to go and when you are ready I will guide you deeper and you won't ask, "what did you learn?" You will feel it for yourself.

No comments: