Duality, unity: the same thing.

I always saw myself as a person with many persons inside of me.

I always thought that the sensation of being composed by many different and –almost all of the time- irreconcilable parts was something that happened to me only (it´s not that I´m schizophrenic, it´s much more simple –or complex- than that), until I realized that it´s something that happened to everyone and that fact, somehow, made me feel better.

When I started my yoga practice 11 years ago, I learnt that the word yoga comes from the root “yuj” that means to join or unite and I thought: Wow, this is going to be interesting!

In Iyengar yoga we divided the body, every time, into littler and littler parts.

At the beginning the instructions are in the arms and legs, then it´s about the joints, bones and muscles, then it´s the flesh and the skin, going deeper and deeper until one day you realize that you are feeling the cells of your body.

Always when I´m  teaching, since I´m the one creating the divisions, I laugh to myself because  it´s kind of funny that this -apparent- contradiction can lead you to realize that you are just one big thing and that, everything is interconnected.

How can this be possible?

From my experience you can´t experience union if you didn´t experience division first. And I can say the same in the opposite way. We have the example of the coin: each coin has two sides and you can´t separate them from each other, otherwise, there won´t be a coin anymore. We can say the same about life and dead / good and evil/ light and darkness. We can say the same about ourselves.

But say something it´s different from experience something. And, for me, this is where yoga helps A LOT. Trough the yoga practice you can experience that FROM division, you have unity. Because one IMPLIES the other. This experience is something that you not just have in your brain but it´s actually happening in your body. You are -from this idea of dividing yourself into different layers going deeper and deeper- developing a new sensibility from outside in until you realize that the layers doesn´t exist anymore.

Everything we know, we can realize it (and appreciate it) because it has an opposite side, but those sides are not divided, just like the coin.

From the awareness of contrast comes the sensation of unity until we realize (not trough the brain but trough the experience), that there´s a point where the opposites not only meet but are the same.

And for me that is breathtaking. And all the “Alejandras” inside of me feels liberated.

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The way we see it or How Kung Fu Panda helped me.

Kungfupanda2

The other night I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 and I understood something.

(Side note: I´m talking a lot about understanding but the thing is that I´m no using the correct word. When I talk about understand something I really want to say that I felt something. This feeling is much more related to intuition, to things that cannot be placed into words.)

 In the movie we can see one scene -“boat scene”- where Po is waking up from a nightmare because he is really confused and he does not know where he came from so, he goes out to take some air and, trying to find inner peace he starts doing some kung fu movements but he ends banging his head on the mast of the boat screaming repeatedly: Inner peace, inner peace!!!

He is in the middle of that when the Tigress appears and Po, feeling ashamed, says that he was training.

Tigress says: “The mast is not a worthy opponent” and she hold her paw out.

When Po hits her paw it was so hard for him that he started screaming.

And then both realized that she became insensitive after so many years of training to be the best. She says: “Apologies, I use to punch the iron wood trees by the palace to train. Now I feel nothing.”

I think this scene talks about something really important.

At least in my experience, there was always this fight inside of me between my SENSITIVE side–the part who feels compassion for myself, who is shy and introvert, who likes comfort- and the TOUGH side –the part who is telling me to try a bit harder, the part who is pushing me into my limits and beyond-.

 

For many years my inner discussion was: If now I´m here, feeling so comfortable, why should I change this? Maybe I could stay here for a little, just to enjoy. But then -sooner than later- without any challenge in front of me, I started to feel stuck. But then again I wanted to stop because the challenge, suddenly, seemed too much.  It is not possible, I´m not going to make it, it is too difficult, it hurts so much.

Many thoughts came to my mind when the things started to lose their quietness.

And many times I stayed there, in the same place for long time, because I was afraid of putting myself into hard conditions, conditions that could break myself, conditions that could affect my sensibility and transforming me in to a rock. I was afraid of feeling nothing, as Tigress said.

For many years I was Po and maybe then Tigress, and then Po again and then Tigress, and so on. For many years I was Po: the easy way was the easiest way for me.

During these days I started to feel different. I started to comprehend some new things and one of those is this: I am both of them. I CAN be both of them at the same time. I can be there trying really hard to go beyond my own limits and, at the same moment, be tender and loving and soft, understanding that if I don´t push myself, no one will do it but, most of all, understanding that pushing myself is ALSO a way to love myself. And I can do this because I have the potential to do whatever I want but, moreover, because I understood that one force does not exist without the other.

Like in the movie: Tigress can´t do the job alone. But Po can´t do it either, even though he is the Dragon Warrior. They needed each other to succeed.

I don´t want to leave the tenderness, the softness, the capacity to love everyone around me but, at the same time, I want to go beyond the limits I can imagine and do my best. It is time.

One of my yoga teachers explained it in a very beautiful way, he said:

It is like in the postures: it is not about being uncomfortable but, if you stay there all the time exploration and interest stopped. We find comfort to enjoy life. Paradoxically the same comfort take away the passion to explore it.

Contrast or complements. Is in the way we see it.