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.
The following post is an article that I wrote for the Spring issue of the Yoga Bridge, the Yoga Association of Alberta’sNewsletter. Perfection and Yoga: a ReflectionBy Pam Moskie Georg Feuerstein comments that yoga is a “vast body of doctrines and practices geared toward self-realization by means of perfecting the body.” As a recovering perfectionist, his use of the word perfecting got me thinking. Is self-realization a product of perfection? And if so, what does it mean to perfect the body? Whose standard of perfection is to be used? My Random House dictionary defines perfect as “having all the desired qualities or having no flaws or defects.” Yet, what is.
We have an assumption in our society that tortures us. It is that we are broken and must be fixed, that we are fallen and must be saved – then we’ll be ok, valuable and happy. A self help empire has been built on the belief that we are not ok as we are. Religious institutions have gotten rich because of this belief. It pervades the microcosms within our society and the yoga subculture is no exception. Subtle though it may be I have often felt threads of this way of thinking in many of the classes I’ve attended. And, I’ve heard myself speak variations of it in my own.
I have had a number of people ask me why I chose Falling Open as the name of my blog and website. Here is what it means to me:Falling Open : A descent out of the chatter of our minds into the experience of the present moment. A willingness to be aware of and experience all of life that is moving through us, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. As we begin to feel the moment through the perspective of our body the crowded mind begins to quiet. And spontaneously, in an act of Grace that is out of our control, the feeling of Openness arises. It is the experience of.