Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spare parts or art?

Picasso took two pieces of a bicycle and turned them into a bull's head.  His genius was in seeing something ordinary in a new way.  Did the potential for this piece exist before he placed the handlebars behind the saddle?  We value this as art - as an expression of human creativity - clever, funny, brilliant really.  Would a second piece of art just like made by another artist be valuable or even necessary?  Of course not.  Even with gratitude given to the original artist, no second "copy" would have value because the art is not in the leather or the steel, the art is in the discovery of something seen in a new way.  We are all unique.  No-one else in the world is just like you.  No-one puts a sentence or and idea or a joke together like you can.  There is value in studying great master's work.  Watching the habits and dedication of a master is extraordinarily useful.  There is no value in copying their creations exactly.  Whether you are a writer, singer, yoga teacher or cook, the value of your creation is in the way you create, the things about your character that compel you to create difference  from what you might even consider great, because greatness lies in ability to surrender to the unknown.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stomach it with a soft heart

(I will continue to post class themes on this blog as the come up.  If you like ‘em, please use them and share them!  If you have some of your own, comment and add them with a link.  These ideas come from somewhere.  That somewhere is the space between our hands when we bring them together - we are all in that space.)
Stomach it with a soft heart.
There are times when I can just let a tough moment pass by like a leaf in the wind, maintaining my breezy outlook on life.  At these times, when I see other folks suffering with what seems small - an argument, a sense of unease, I can get dismissive of it or offer cliche platitudes.
In fact, I don’t want to feel what they feel, so I disassociate from it and contrive to diminish the importance of another’s distress through rationalization “well, shit happens - we’ve all experienced that”.  As if to say, because our suffering is universal, there is no point in really stepping into it.  I think this is a mistake.  It is by stepping into our pain when it is there that we can begin to understand the causes, and digest - literally break down into components - the “poisons” and turn them into nutrients.
Sounds like a good idea, but how?  With a soft heart yes, but a strong stomach.  When we feel really uneasy, the digestive system goes into panic mode and you might even want to vomit.  To get rid of what is inside.  What we can do instead is recognize the unease, and invite the stomach back into the strength of the ribs and spine, invite the butterflies into the cave that also holds the heart.
Asana focus - stability of the front wall of the abdomen via filling the back of the body with breath, maintaining an open chest while moving through a flow of longer-held poses culminating in headstand, shoulderstand and plow - “Halasana” - poison -removing pose.