Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Three rights make a left, three yes’s make one know

My Japanese friend explained to me that when she was young, her family would, on a Sunday, visit a Christian church, a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine.  The visit to each was sincere in its way, but not obsessive or exclusive, clearly.

She understood that it was polite to accept the viewpoint of each philosophy, religion or practice, but that the Sunday visit was more recreational than dogmatic.  No-one became upset if one viewpoint disagreed with another.  No-one got angry, and no-one got killed.

By saying a polite yes to the viewpoints of the Christian, the Buddhist and the Shinto representatives, it was possible to see something from three sides.  If you want to paint a picture of a box, you’ll paint it from the perspective your easel sits at, in relation to the subject you are painting.  If you get up and move to a second and third location, the next two paintings will look different - but they are of the same subject.

The Christian, the Buddhist and the Shinto priest may have preferred she exclude the other two visits.  But by saying a polite “yes” to all three, she not only expanded her perspective, she also said a polite “no” to the blindness of a singular perspective.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The absence of romance

Romance means a narrative - a story.  Instead of “I ate a tuna sandwich”, we might say, “I savored a delicious layered lunchtime retreat from hunger”.  Romance allows us to savor, to create meaning, to make sense and beauty from direct experience.

In relationship, romance is also a story.  It is our projection, our hopes and expectations of another.  It is not direct experience.  Because it is a story, experience eventually dissolves the story; sometimes into something very beautiful and real, sometimes into the knowledge that the story was more fun than the reality.

Practices that increase awareness, or life experience itself, begin to dissolve even the beginning of romance.  Like any projection of the mind or desire of the body, it is possible to become aware of the creation of a narrative right away.

When this awareness begins to arise as a stable state, it becomes very difficult to sustain a story instead of direct experience.  The movie becomes less and less believable.  Then what may happen in the future, how much the other holds you in high regard, and promises made begin to lose the power of truth.  What is left is direct experience of the other.

Often, the other is seen as the source of love, which is why they seem so attractive.  Love though, is not the emotional response to desire or the need to make permanent a state of temporary happiness.  Love is the field of awareness in which the story of romance is created.  When this recognition happens, romance loses its power like the craving for sugar does when we are truly nourished.

Waking into the field of awareness that is absolutely supportive of your life and has no need for meaning or story to be attached dissolves the addictive need for romance, for romance was the proxy for the field of loving awareness itself.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hatha yoga is the process of squeezing out the dissonance from the body

You are at a party and make a statement.  Someone disagrees with you and you feel small.  There is no time to get to the bottom of why you feel small - the chain of symptoms is to long, so you have another drink and “forget about it” until later.  Later, with your sweetie, you mention what happened at the party and the emotion percolates  again to the surface.  Your sweetie says something like “Well, you are awesome and so and so is an idiot anyway...." and you feel better.  For now.

What has happened is a chain of suppression.  You would have liked to have been valued and agreed with but instead the opposite happened.  The energy from that experience was then stored in the tissues of the body via a process of first thought - light and changeable - becoming emotion - more physical and felt for longer - and finally the body - some perhaps almost invisible, contraction. 

Then you practice hatha yoga and all parts of the body - at ease and contracted bits - are pulling and pushing together, and the contracted bits that holds the energy of your exchange at the party are now supported - really supported- by all your other bits and the emotion is released.  You laugh at yourself, or cry.  Either way, the contraction is squeezed out and you rest after your practice.

It is a simple and amazing process.  When you go to a party next time and someone disagrees with you, you can watch the process happen.  No need to change it.