My hip or, A way to deal with ignorance.

Kleshas

Yoga practice helps you to rediscover the forgotten link between your mind and body and this, under my experience, always modify the way you see illness and health, pleasure and pain.

When I started my practice, I remember how surprised I was when I heard my teacher saying: If you feel pain, observe it, don´t run away, try to see why that pain appeared in this moment.

During the lasts months I have been feeling some pain in my left hip: it´s a pain that comes and goes, that change and that, sometimes makes me feel angry but, other times, makes me feel compassion for myself.

There are some days where the pain moves me closer to the practice. I know that, after practice I will feel better: the pain diminishes or disappears completely. But, other days, the pain takes me away from the practice because my thinking process is something like: Ok, this pain is the result of my ignorance. There´s something that I´ve been doing wrong all this years so, if I continue practicing there´s a chance for the injury to get bigger.

During those days it´s really difficult to get and sit on my mat without an anger feeling inside me.

But then, the question is:  

Where do you find more ignorance?

Try to do something you love, even if there´s more than once chance that you´re not understanding everything of it?

Or, not do it at all, just because you´re afraid?

Patañjali (II.3) shows us Avidya as the first cause of suffering (kleshas).

When I think about it, my concept of ignorance talks about not-knowing something; ignorance has to be with inexperience.

I think this is an important concept.

It´s impossible to be able to understand something or to feel experienced in a subject since the first moment. And this is really hard to handle for the ego because there´s an awesome sensation when you feel that you´re good at something.

But, being lost, being confused and wrong, feeling inexperienced it´s part of the way, if you want to be able to feel the opposite. In this case, my pain is telling me that there´s something that I need to change; I need to revalue my practice. I have a lot of interpretations for it but, it´s more important to me, to be able to continue my practice more than ever because, when your ego is telling that you don´t need it (and my ego it´s telling me that when I´m angry) probably, it´s when you need it the most.

I´ve have experienced more than once how concepts that at first glance seem opposites, always meet somewhere. I already wrote about the feeling of being a beginner and I did the question if the fool is a fool after all… When you´re empty you´re full of space and, when you feel pain because you did something wrong, you´re learning something. Probably it´s something like this that I read today: “The non-dual reality lies beyond all appearing dual expressions.”

My ignorance it´s making me suffer physic pain but, behind that pain I can see hard work and the passion of doing the thing I love.

I know it´s time to go deeper in my practice (or time to go to the doctor), injuries come to tell you something.

I want to say that I can see the sign behind this pain but, meanwhile I understand the meaning and heal myself, I can do as my teacher thought me: observe my pain, and try to see what´s going to teach me this time.

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NO MORE DRAMA (part 1)

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I.-2 Yoga citta vritti nirodha.

We know that yoga -by definition- talks about being able to stop the movements of the mind, the “waves of thoughts” that are coming constantly.

Sometimes, we are under those waves. Sometimes, we are over them.

So, if thoughts are like the ocean they, simply, are there.

You can´t actually “fight” against them but you can take your board (in this case your own little body) and, with humbleness and an open heart, go there and try to learn how to “surf”.

For me, being under the waves of thoughts its being beneath them, feeling that you are truly drowning, about to lose all your hope (oxygen), “under” those thoughts that are self destructive and that are able to transform your life into a big mental fucking drama.

For example (and these are thoughts that I´ve been having during these months):

  • Why are you doing this to me? 
  • Why am I doing this to me?
  • I´m not worthy.
  • I can´t do this.
  • I´m losing everything.
  • You are guilty for this.
  • I don´t deserve this.
  • I´m crazy, I´m a fool, I´m ——– , etc., etc.

Under the influence of those thoughts you are moving away from your own center, that center that is more about openness, compassion, love and trust than impatience, un-confidence, selfishness and irritation. I have been there, oh yes. And I can say that under the water nothing is clear. But somehow -and always in time-, a loving hand took me above the surface again and well, that simple action, putted things in perspective.

For me, Patañjali was talking a little bit about this. Maybe if you have the chance to turn yourself into an “enlightened” person, you will be able to not-think at all but, for an extra-normal person like me, Patañjali was telling us about being able to move over some kind of thoughts that are not helping us at all. And a big part of the yoga practice is about become more sensitive so you are able to discover those thoughts.

So, for my next crisis, I´ll have a little bit more of experience to see that behind the stormy –and dangerous- waves, there is always a calmer place to be. A place closer to your own self. Because, I don´t want to be the best “surfer” in the world, I just would like to be able to find a place to “float” maintained by the tension in the surface of the water and go with the flow… No drama but confidence and love.

Important things coming trough in waves.

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Why become an intellectual, if the subject has the potential to transform you in to a mystic?

Because it is really easy to have an intellectual approach to yoga, it is easy to put quotes everywhere -everyone has been “touched” by a quote-. With roots in literature studies I can say, by experience, how easy it is to over think.

But why are we doing yoga, then?

If we accept the definition of yoga as

yogah cittavŗtti nirodhah / Yoga is the ceasing of the movements of consciousness,  

The first idea that comes into our minds is that we need to stop thinking, because in some way, we identify these movements with thoughts.

I think I need to stop thinking.

Why?

 

I started to practice around ten years ago. I was finishing high school and I wanted to find something different to do, something new, something for me. That is how I searched in the yellow pages (old concept, ah?) and found a little studio near my house.

I went there and during the first practice I felt how important yoga will be in my life.

During my years in university I practice all the time: different methods, schools and teachers but I was there, experiencing the physical practice.

Probably because of this fact I had a break down in university, -where I was surrounded by real intellectuals-.

I started to feel that it was not worthy at all to “be in your head” all the time. I started to feel emotionally dry, incomplete and physically sick.

When I visualize myself in those moments I see myself as a big head. Just a head walking around, with a backpack full of books. A head full of thoughts, with excellent memory, being able to quote the most amazing authors in history but, absolutely disconnected from my own body and feelings.

The first and most important thing I started to feeling during the practice of asanas, was a link between my body and my emotions. During the practice –without understanding it too much at the beginning- I was using my body as a tool to dig in deeper into myself and a lot of feelings started to come out.  Also, being able to feel my body fully –not just the big head- changed completely the idea that I had of myself.

So, with a yoga practice running parallel to my studies, this idea of myself as an intellectual lost its meaning.  I got tired of it. And I quit.

My idea was to become a Yoga Instructor, but in that moment in Chile, there was not one good teacher training. So I waited. And during that time, following the advices of my first teacher, I practiced and I read a lot.

I spent many years reading tons of books about the subject, making summaries and I studied them. I was practicing a lot during this time but also I was memorizing quotes and trying to feel what others –books, masters and friends- told me to feel.

So I found myself in a very familiar place: feeling this “heavy head” sensation again, after transforming myself in to an intellectual of yoga.

During the last couple of years I tried not to read too much about yoga because it is my experience of it that had become really important. I know how Patañjali describes the path, I know what a lot of people have said about the history of yoga, I´ve been reading a lot about philosophy, the life of the sages, about enlightenment. A lot about yama, niyama, pranayama. Meditation. Tantra. Karma. Dharma. Symbols.

Now I feel it is time to experience, to discover by myself the secrets of this moment, to see if I can find my own words to share my experiences.

Even though I read about how the senses have to be controlled, it is through them I can see my practice moving, evolving, changing. It is the presence of jñanendriyas – five senses of perception- that helped me to feel my body, my skin, my energy until, their absence –in some moments of meditation- makes every idea that I have of myself disappear.

I know. I can see the division I am creating, connecting intellectual (thoughts, knowledge and thinking process) with the mind; connecting experience (feelings, sensations, emotions) with the body.

They say Yoga means Union.

I have been traveling during these years from one part of my body to another, from one emotion to another, from my skin, to my flesh to my bones. I have been traveling MOSTLY from one concept to another. During these years I have been feeling so many contradictions inside of me but, somehow, those contradictions opened my visual spectrum and now what I used to call reality is a beautiful open place waiting for me to fulfill it with experiences.

Yoga is a practice. And maybe inside of that word, “practice”, the secret is hidden. And even though I sound divided every part of me knows that yoga brought nothing more than unification to my life.

What happens when I´m not inspired.

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I used to live a very calm life in Chile. Now I´m traveling a lot and my routine is completely gone.

And I can live days like today where a big part of me is there asking: Where are you, my lovely routine?

In days like today I miss my “home”, my work, my students, the hours of practice and study. I miss my friends and walking down the street to go to work or to go anywhere.

Now, standing here, in a completely different place I can see this part of myself crying for everything I knew. I miss have the “control” in everything.

Even though I can see that this moment of my life is asking -begging- me to go with the flow because I can´t do nothing more than relax and enjoy the trip, today, I can see this part of me that is fighting against everything. This part of me that likes to feel sorry for myself, is been telling me during these days: Ale, where is your lovely routine?

Patañjali talks, really early in the Yoga sutras, about detachment.

He says: abhyāsa vairāgyābhyām tannirodhah (I.12)

There, Abhyasa means practice and Vairagya means detachment. Both of them will help us to stop the movement of our conscience.

Then, is Patañjali, in some way, asking us to be attached to the practice?

Because vairagya is a practice by itself* (I.15). And practice means in some ways routine.

I like to think that Patañjali is there, everywhere, laughing at me because I´m so confuse about everything.

When I´m not inspired I feel angry and sad. Slow and heavy. I feel the parts of myself wanting to fight against everything.

Today was a hard day.

A special occasion to learn everything I don´t want to learn.

 

Yoga practice or Dancing through an expansive experience.

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These days had been crazy. After three weeks in Norway, we drove back to Luleȧ where we stayed for two nights. After one night sleeping at Geneva airport, we are now in Chamonix, France.

When my boyfriend –who is a skier and travels a lot– planned this season, he never thought about finding a girlfriend right in the middle between those mental plans and reality. But here we are, enjoying everything, happy to be together and the plan –that´s now including both of us- is to move from one place to another until September, at least.

If you knew me ten years ago you probably could say that I´ve been changing a lot. My posture, my body but most of all, my personality are different know. I feel different. I have no doubts about it: This is because of my yoga practice.

Prashantji says something really interesting about how the daily practice of asanas is training our mind.

Every day we are there on our mat. It can be rainy or sunny out there, it can be a good day or the worse day of our life. We could feel sick or sad or nervous, in love or happy or we can be there without knowing how we feel. Even though, we are there about to start a new asana practice.  This is training for our minds because we develop neutrality. Prashantji call this the psychology of asanas: they teach us how to stay neutral in front of every mental state. And through this we can understand and experienced that steadiness (sthiratha) and comfort (sukhata) have a completely different nature depending on which asana we are doing but most off all, depending on our inner state that, we know, can change a lot.

If you asked me six months back about my future, I never EVER would answer about all this adventures in completely new places, surrounded by nature, new friends and so much love. I used to think of myself as a person in love with routine, order and quietness. Having a comfortable and very tranquil life in Santiago, I never thought that I could actually enjoy this “volatility”, these movements and changes so much. I feel more alive than ever!

I´m learning so much about myself because I´m constantly exposed to new events, places, languages, people. Everything is new, all the time.

I am a beginner, every day of my life.

Some days I´ve been feeling exhausted because there are so many stimulus out there and I´m processing everything in here –“inner time” feels different-. Some nights I can feel my brain tired because it is not used yet to talk a new language during the whole day. I miss my family and my friends but at the same time I feel grateful and happy. And I see neutrality in there. My mind is not playing a role in that tiredness or sadness, nor even in that happiness. My mind is observing these feelings knowing that they will change sooner or later. It was not like this ten years ago.

Every day I can find new inspiration. It´s beautiful to see me living like this, experiencing in my own skin that everything is open to change. I´m experiencing life as it is: full of colors, energy and changes. Like a dance. And I am happy dancing in the middle of nowhere.

Every(w)here.