Learning from Ourselves… Injury in Yoga: Continuing the Dialogue

Hi – I’m glad you got something out of it.

This is my long-winded response to your question: “Can we break free of our old broken ways without hurting it (our bodies)?”

I hope this helps…

Non-Dualism/Advaita (not two)

It is my understanding and what I believe to be true (always have), is that all is god/divine/universe. It is known in studied circles as non-dualism or Advaita. You can study Advaita Vedanta which is a branch of Vedanta (philosophy) that sees all as One.

According to Advaita, in the universe, there is no this or that. No light or dark, etc.. So then when experiencing anything: behavior, injury, circumstances, god, etc., then nothing is bad or good. It just is.

Thinking Mind

Our minds have separated things out; Put them into little boxes and called them bad or good, hot or cold, light or dark. I suppose it’s true and necessary to do this when you want to distinguish between things as humans walking this earth. But it’s when you start to qualify them that gets us into our heads and we stop experiencing things for what they are in the present moment.

The Judgement

Our imaginings as to what things mean to us according to what we’ve experienced in our lives take over. That’s when you become burdened with the thinking mind. It’s like telling a lie. You have to remember exactly what you’ve told yourself in order to get on with life. That becomes a burden. When the water is hot or cold you will react differently according to your circumstance – your present moment – you think, but in fact our reactions to most things come with a lot of baggage. That baggage are the qualifiers both personal and social that we put on certain things. Now the dark is bad and the light is good. Sometimes snow is fun, sometimes it’s awful and we hate it. Injury is bad and staying safe is good. Or worse you’re bad because you injured yourself and those who take care are good. (does this sound like something you know?)

What Advaita teaches us is to see things as they are without judgement, without qualifiers. When you take things as they are, there is no this or that. All is one and there is no judgement or qualification to separate it out. No putting it into a box with a label on it. You see it as it is. It is just a happening.

The Learning

For instance, I have a small hairline fracture in my fifth metatarsal. It happened as I was teaching a very fast vinyasa class. Fun! About 15 mins into the class, I noticed a sensation that there was something under my foot and didn’t notice the swelling until after the class. I went home put some ice on it, kept my foot up for the evening and next day and taught that evening and again the next day and the next. The “injury” told me one thing – that I was putting too much stress on my back foot in Virabhadrasana Two. It was not “preventable” because until the moment it happened, I didn’t know I was. In fact, the stress came from the tightness in my hips which taught me that I had to work from my hips/legs more in open hip postures – especially standing. My “injury” taught me how to work better. Now I’m not saying that everything is a teaching – but in this case I did learn. Meaning I became more aware of how my body works and reacts in certain postures. I do not think of it as injury and something to avoid. I think of it as injury, yes, and something to embrace and know that that is how my body needs to work itself out.

Our Experience

Our bodies have habits from the time we are very young. Our movements, how we walk, reach for things, jump out of the way, stand, sit are all set pretty much early on in our lives and are determined by who we mimic (our parents), and what we experience (physically, emotionally, psychically). These physical movements and their baggage are what we’re up against in our asana practice. Even being very flexible is something to overcome in practice. (I can tell you more about this later if you’d like – just ask.)

Consciousness

So the long and the short of it is this: as long as you are moving in the consciousness that is available to you at this time, then the work and the results of that work are all a part of the divine plan. If you are aware of how and what it is that you do then there is no this or that. There is just you doing the work. Your body will unfold in the practice as it needs to. Sometimes injury is a part of that unfolding.

Deeper Understanding

Richard Freeman (well-known guru of Ashtanga) says that he’s never had an injury. Well, bully for him. I know no one else and I know a lot of people in yoga. I believe that because of my struggles it affords me a deeper understanding of what most people are going through. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t move head-long into injury. I don’t like the recovery time and it always is that I have to start pretty much all over again. But even saying that – every time I start over – meaning, that my trikonasanas look like I’ve never done them before – I go deeper into the posture and feel a more profound connection to my body and my practice. That is worth all the struggle and hard work, for sure!

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Restless Spirit Hours the Week of December 16th…

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Come in for a visit and let’s chat! We’ll sit here and do cards or a session for your deepening. Or we’ll sit in meditation in the space right behind me and let Grace take over. Whatever it is that you would like to do, Restless Spirit is a very harmonious, spiritual place and you are welcome anytime to come talk with me!

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I’m planning to be in the studio Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11-7pm, and maybe Friday. Oh of course it all depends on the weather.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have some appointments so I’ll be there for sure. Text me to make sure I’m available at the time you want to drop in.

Hope to see you all soon!

Remember to book your appointments with me here or email, or by texting or calling. Thx.

Answers To Some Questions Someone Asked Me…

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Someone asked me about my practice. It is hard to articulate and I don’t think I’ve expressed it as well as I can. It’s hard for me to express something that I do so intuitively. But here goes – I hope you find this informative and inspiring! 🙂 Peace!

What brought you to devote your energies to yoga?

It wasn’t really my decision. I think all my life had been directing me that way. Since I was a child, I had this feeling that I was to heed the call of the universe but obligations in regular life kept me from seeing my path clearly. It took me years to follow the calling. And when I did, it threw my life into a tailspin. I lost friends and my family because they could not understand the direction my life was taking. I sacrificed a lot but gained so much. I attained a disposition that is contentment itself. I could not have experienced this without the pain and sacrifice, without the missteps. I devote my energies to yoga, because all there is – is Yoga. Everything else is Maya; superficial; unreal.

How does it “in-form” [sic] the person that you are?

If Yoga speaks through me then there is a truth that is in my eyes. I cannot hide or “get rid of” the organism I am; the human I am. I cannot ignore that I am a very sensitive human being. Not only in emotions – because I’m not as sensitive that way as others – but my organism is sensitive. I taste more, I smell more, I feel more, I vibe more. This, when attached with an ego, can get very irritating and precarious and at the same time, can make me acutely aware of my surroundings and the other humans near me. Yoga takes my hand and leads me through the jungle, swamp as my teacher likes to call it. So yoga doesn’t take away the uncomfortable moments as it doesn’t take away the blissful moments. Yoga doesn’t distinguish one from the other. It is all experience. It is all about being human. Being a restless spirit. Yoga informs my organism by allowing my humanness to express itself without judgment. I feel the embrace of god no matter what I do these days. Yoga – as I become transparent – accepts the incarnation of whatever happens through my ego.

How does it relate to seeing in terms of sacred and profane and to your quest to integrate these poles?

Yoga then is ultimately a heart path. It is not just an intellectual path. It is not just a physical path. It is not just a mindful path. Once the ego has been exposed to the Yogic path; after all the fighting and resisting, the heart opens up to all possibilities of expression; that there is no right way or wrong way to attain Yoga. The heart, in the ego’s evolution to spirit, casts a wide net and sees which way to turn next. All movements toward deepening are accepted and in line with the dharma – whether it is sitting in meditation or learning a (big or small) lesson from a decision made. The stronger the heart path the more sincerity, with sincerity there’s honesty and humility, with honesty and humility comes equanimity. With equanimity, there is acceptance of all. Integrating the sacred and the profane in one place, one organism, is to practice non-dualism or advaita and that is what I think is the truth of the universe. The restless spirit goes through stages of evolution and revolution to reach Yoga and anything can get you there if you are listening and done with sincerity.

 How is your practice related to architecture?

When I was practicing architecture, I was concerned with how the ‘spirit’ was expressed through building. I turned to a lot of the modern architecture of Europe but also and more importantly of Japan.

Japanese architecture always fascinated me – at least when the architectural space expressed the concepts of opposites and their juxtapositions through materials, expression of space and how they use it. The Zen garden was a part of that as well as placing cool water in relationship with warm wood, or stone floor as transition between garden and tatami mat. And so on. To me, this created an experience of balance between sensations of the senses. A yin yang of living if you will. It reminds me of Hatha yoga – balancing energies through the physical manifestation of opposites.

As well, I studied a lot of medieval architecture and urban landscapes because they showed how humans met their needs in built form and at that time it was unstructured (to a certain extent), unhindered by intellectual notions of design and unself-conscious. Take gothic cathedrals for instance – they were built simply to express their devotion to the Divine. And like gothic architecture, the spiritual path takes time, patience, devotion (to the work as well as god), vision, concentration, and contentment (because you might not see your efforts come to fruition in this lifetime).

And finally, Sacred Geometry and Alchemy. My studies informed me that there are unseen forces which can be expressed through certain parameters – that the Divine is revealed through them. In built form, sacred geometry harnesses the energies from the universe – the sun and stars. The architecture then becomes the energy field. It is then interesting to compare the practice of yoga asana with this harnessing of energy of the universe. Sacred geometry is expressed through form and mathematics. I suppose you could say that asana can be and, in theory, is that precise and practical. Sacred geometry and its expressions need to be precise in order to harness these energies. Hatha yoga need not be – precise – in form. Every body is different and can not express postures in the same way. Then what is it? It needs to be precise in ‘energy’. Energy to me equals mindfulness (or right-mindedness) plus perseverance (dedication) plus forcefulness (effort) with breath. Enacting Hatha yoga postures in this way is the harnessing of divine energy from within – not without. Where sacred architecture draws from outside and then contains the energies within, a human being creates the energy within and contains it. This is known as Prana, created through breath and enacting the postures with force (Hatha yoga – the ‘forceful’ practice). Both the architectural space and the individual contain the energy within.

Is yoga as you practice it a kind of embodied, spiritual architecture?

I suppose if I read this like: that the practices of yoga and meditation are a kind of architecture which endeavors to express the restless spirit – so in a way, to find new form by building or by practicing; by sensing the changes that are needed and making adjustments; by recognizing the potential and limitations of what you have to work with; by harnessing and containing these energies (prana) within, and finally, by knowing that this kind of embodiment is much bigger than you. To that, then yes, I’d say so.

How do your Buddhist meditative practices relate to or complement your yoga practices?

Buddhist meditation practices complement my yoga practice because of its simplicity. I practice Zazen, which really means to “just sit”. I take that into my asana practice and although I’m very aware of structure, my meditation practice helps me to “just practice” and breathe. We sometimes like to put values or qualifications on our practice – do this and you will be healthy or fit or whatever; do meditation and you will be calm or mindful and so on. Really there’s no guarantee that any of that will happen for you. We say, build your core and you can do handstand easily or this or that arm balance. But in truth there’s a lot more going on in an asana, which does not relate at all to how strong your core muscles are that would hold you back from realizing that goal. So then, in the “just sitting” or the practice of Ashtanga (in my view) is the means to the end. The practice or rather to practice is the goal. And you do the best you possibly can in your body, your organism with sincerity.

How do you see the evolution of your path?

Really to just keep doing. Keep making myself available to my own practice, to the universe, to others. Making myself available to others also drives me down my path. Making myself available to the universe means to cultivate intuition, heart and mind. So on that note – thank you for asking these questions because it has helped me to articulate these things that I do intuitively.

I hope I’ve answered your questions for you. Please feel free to ask me to clarify anything that you are unsure about.

Peace!

Christine

Letting Go…

Letting Go...

Vulnerability IS the human condition. Yes – You ARE vulnerable to EVERYTHING.

We get on a plane – we can catch a cold or worse. We could fall out of the sky – yet we fly!
We live, work, ride on buses, drive on highways, interact with people who are in variant stages of insanity (including us) yet most of us get home every night. By the GRACE of the Universe, we do not live in a war zone!

We get up every morning and we step into the world in some form or another.

We are by virtue of being human – Vulnerable.

What a cruel joke it is that at a moments notice you could be gone – heart attack, stroke, getting hit by a car – simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time… or is it right place at the right time… There are countless stories about people ‘cheating’ death in one instance and weeks/months later It catching up with them.

Our hearts are vulnerable – how many of us have lost those near and dear to us, family, friends, lovers one way or another? Everyone has! Being in relationship is part of the human condition which is what makes vulnerability a part of the human condition. You can’t “fight” it – it is not “like height”. It is not measurable, it is not material – it is as it is.

Stop fighting it. Let go!

Beyond the layer of fear is a place of warmth that is the embrace of the Divine. The Ecstatic Surrender. Do this and vulnerability will not be your enemy. Look at the sculpture of the “Ecstasy of St. Teresa” by Bernini – it is her surrender to the Will of God – Ecstasy through Grace.
To know and live through your own heart is to know the Divine – and isn’t that ultimately what we are here for!?

Give up the need for control. Shit happens for better or worse. If you must, learn from it. We always want reasons for everything – ‘why’ is a question that can never be answered. Especially to our satisfaction – so let go.

Everything makes sense when you die to your own idea of yourself. Fear of vulnerability comes from an Identification with the small self. Me and I; an attachment to you and your physical and mental ability to stave off intruders. To protect oneself at all costs – to the cost of one’s Heart (not the sentimental heart though).

Non-attachment is key.

This energy that we live, flows through us whatever we are masquerading as – take it off – take off your costume and live as you truly are.

We document everything these days… I have a question…

We document everything these days... I have a question...

I’ve always been the type of person who would give someone the quarter, dime or even sometimes dollar they need at the cash register, or pick up a hat that someone dropped or call the last called number on a cell phone to ask the person on the other end to inform the owner that I found their phone. I’ve always opened doors, pushed cars out of snow banks and have sat with a person who was grazed by a passing car for the ambulance to come.

While I really appreciate the sentiment (click on the photo for the link) and what it’s supposed to be about – I have to ask the question…

I ask this question respectfully: Do we have to document everything we do now? What does this say about our society? What is it that we’re looking for when we inform everyone of our “good deeds”? Are we so inundated by bad news with video clips that we need an injection of goodwill to remind us of what it means to be human? A real one? Are we so out of touch with our hearts? Maybe.

Let’s not over do it ok? – I mean telling everybody on FB or Twitter or wherever. Otherwise – like yoga, the word ‘awesome’, that thing you do with your fingers to form a heart – “acts of kindness” (good deeds) will become so mundane, so trite, so saccharine that they will be rendered passé and thrown into the trash with ‘been-there-done-that’.

Acts of kindness are things to be witnessed – so don’t hesitate to do them just for the sake of doing them. Let whoever witnesses it be the one to sing your praises… that’s a risk I’m willing to take…

 

Another woman’s view: What I Love and Hate about Tantra and Sacred Sex

What I Love and Hate about Tantra and Sacred Sex: Have you ever experienced the kind of relationship that, years after it’s ended, you look back and think, “how is it possible …

This post (see link above) is a very honest portrayal of what happens during the Spiritual journey.

Everyone’s journey is expressed differently through different passages and avenues. We all go through a kind of right or ritual when a part of ourselves needs to manifest. Each passage is different in how it is expressed and the intensity with which it is expressed. Some of us do not even feel that there is a need at all. Or worse, we are not directed correctly by the people we trust – hopefully eventually, most of us who are seeking can find the way on our own…

In this case, this woman’s psyche led her in a Tantric/Sacred Sexual direction – just because of what her organism at that moment in time needed. This was her right of passage that she believed would end the emptiness, and the fear.

After going along this journey fully and completely in full surrender, I would imagine she need not visit this particular part of herself again. On the other hand, like it is with the spiritual process – this experience may just be the tip of the iceberg and there may be things yet to uncover… I don’t know.

This woman like so many of us pursued a particular path in order to find what she thought she lacked and in the end came to the same conclusion which is offered at the outset of any spiritual teaching – “…that which I seek was within me all along.” It doesn’t matter who you are and what you believe or what you are told – we all have to go through the ‘fire’ in order to heal, to become conscious and whole. We must experience whatever it is we need to in order to live fully and develop deeply. It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you or what you understand intellectually, living our lives fully means to dive into parts of ourselves by doing things, experiencing what might seem risky, shameful or embarrassing. This passage this woman took is like many passages we all take in our lives over and over again.  I’m sure if she thought back on it – this wasn’t the first time she’s encountered something like this and… it won’t be her last.

This is how we unfold!

Peace!

Christine

“I Don’t Know” #1

The Creative Process needs a kind of openness akin to what the Spiritual Practice needs in order to see what is truly ‘there’.

This article, written on this site: http://99u.com/articles/15339/the-joy-of-creative-ignorance-embracing-uncertainty-in-your-day-to-day speaks from the writer’s pov – or rather advises writers to have an “I don”t know” stance when approaching their work.

This kind of “I don’t know” recipe for the creative process is Inherent In Spiritual Practice. It isn’t a new idea even when Keats was around. One of the best books on the subject of “I don’t know” is “Zen Mind. Beginners Mind”. The Spiritual Practice needs a mind that has no attachment to identity. No Strings attached to Outcome. When the mind is free, It opens the heart. In an all-embracing attitude possibilities are endless.