At this level of my being I tap into the stories, concepts, images and thoughts that whir about within me. As I self-reflect I notice some anxiety (at the level of the manomaya kosha) about finishing this post knowing that I have little time in the next few days to do so. At a subtler level there is a belief that drives the anxiety. The belief is that if I don’t get it finished and readers are expecting a post that I will have failed in some way. As I try to stay with this belief it gets bumped out by random images of the potato soup I am cooking upstairs and a curiousity about.
I’ve been actively avoiding this post all week. I have often guarded my feelings and emotions and so publicly writing about it fills me with fear. I’m afraid to be honest, I’m afraid that I won’t be honest. So I start there. In the fear. I move through the first two sheaths with ease, I am comfortable here, in sensation and energy. And then I bump up against a wall of butterflies- this is often how I feel fear or anxiety – as mass of butterflies that jitter in my torso. And the butterflies go nowhere. They just flit about in chaotic non-patterns, bunging up any sense of flow within me.I bring more awareness to this moving, immovable mass. As I do this the butterflies seem.
As I sit in front of the large windows in my living room I notice a lady bug crawling along the windowsill. It is only one small part of the larger scene of life pulsating through this moment. My cat snores beneath my chair. A light breeze ruffles the delicate leaves of freshly planted petunias on my porch. The heavy, grumbling sounds of passing cars periodically mask the fervent chirps of neighborhood robins. The world is vital this morning. It is not a blob of inanimate substance, it is alive. I am alive. My awareness turns inward and I notice that my body feels fatigued from hours of excited gardening. My legs ache.
In yoga we are seen as being made up of various sheaths through which passing phenomena arise and dissolve. These sheaths or bodies are called koshas in Sanskrit. In the non-dual tradition there are 6 koshas and one changless Ground of Being which is both distinct but not separate from the 6 koshas. In the next few blogs I will be exploring these sheaths through my own experience and sharing what I find with all of you. Richard Miller, a modern teacher of non-dualism, has delineated the koshas in the following way in his book Yoga Nidra:1. Physical body (Annamaya kosha) – Awareness of sensation 2. Energy body (Pranamaya kosha).
My daughter, Rowan, is a crucible through which the depth of my yoga practice has been tested. She was only home a month when I was besieged by post partum depression, colic and sleeplessness. One desperate day I settled, with feeble energy, into downward dog. I breathed there, listlessly, and felt my exhaustion. I breathed and felt the sensations of pain, fatigue and self doubt live their way through my body. I breathed until I became completely and honestly present to the deep ache of motherhood – the ache of immense fear, anger, fatigue, confusion – and love.As I descended deeper into experience my awareness held this ache like.
Stretching can be the home of the ego. In any asana the sensation of stretch has the ability to usurp the legitimate expression of all other sensations. The stretch becomes the dominant force, the loudest experience. Stretching the muscles makes us feel like we’re doing something, achieving something. It can become the embodiment of the “no pain, no gain” attitude that permeates our culture. Without awareness it can become habit to know an asana in terms of stretch to the negation of all other sensation. It starts to feel like we are not doing yoga without the stretch. What would it be like to experience asana from other perspectives? Take.