Reflections on Practice

Tom, my husband and I were swimming together in the ocean one afternoon. I found myself genuinely surprised at seeing this familiar person, whom I know so well, look and seem so different out of context. Here was stable Tom, floating in the Atlantic, tossed about in the waves. I also perceived him from a similarly fluid perspective as I too was being tossed about in the water several feet away from him. It was an odd juxtaposition, this familiar being in an unfamiliar situation -- my stable rock of a husband constantly moving to and fro. And here I was, also ebbing and flowing and seeing him from this seemingly unfamiliar and unstable perspective. Where we might normally perceive each other from a physically grounded place, connected to the solidity of the earth, we were now in an unstable, highly dynamic, ever changing, fluctuating sea. And yet there was stability. The stability came from our connection. The space between us became like a bridge or a rope, something that connected us in sea of change. And this stable space of connection was, like a rope or a bridge made of twine, stable because of it mobility. The connection was dynamic, alive, adaptable, stable and mobile all at the same time. We were in relationship to each other.

As people, we are always in relationship, within our own bodies and minds, with other beings and the environment that both surrounds and permeates us. We are able to stabilize and ground ourselves through relationship. In this sea of flux we are stabilized through relationships. We are able to navigate this flux with the stability that comes from the deep understanding that we are in relationship with ourselves, our environment, and other beings, with everything. And when this flux is accepted, like realizing that when in water it is best to float, to go with the movement and enjoy the ride, we find stability in the fact of the flux. We float and swim rather that fighting for a familiar footing where it doesn't exist and perhaps sink as a consequence.

Going back to the waves in Del Ray. Tom looked so different in those waves. I was also "looking" from a fresh pair of eyes. The familiar and the unfamiliar, the known and unknown, stability and mobility, certainty and uncertainty came together simultaneously existing in relationship. And so it is with the practice of asana.

Poses can be like people, multifaceted, ever changing, and yet resonating on some mysterious and constant frequency that makes them, them. Take them out of context. By taking them out of context we are able to discriminate between what is contextual and unstable and what is true. This frequency or true stable essence slowly reveals itself over time, with the ever an ever-present witness deep within watching and listening. Listening carefully because the fequency with which a person, or even a pose, might be resonating might be something we have never seen, heard, or felt before. Or it may seem that way. It may be unfamiliar. It may be even be a little scary.

Try this:

Take a familiar pose and surround it with less familiar poses and vise-versa. Do a pose in a pool. Try tadasana on a not crowded moving subway train, (stay near a pole and be ready to take hold if necessary). And see how you have to change the familiar form of the pose because you are in a completely different set of relationships. This can be refreshing. It can awaken us to the fact of change and of relationship. And even when on your sticky mat, in a familiar environment, the given set of relationships is actually brand new and can be experienced as such if we awaken ourselves to the ever changing, fluid, unfolding (and yet stable) present.