1.19 BHAVAPRATYAYO VIDEHA PRAKRTILAYAANAAM
A wise older woman once told me that God hands us the same lessons over and over again until we are ready to learn them. I have not been religious in nature and do not follow the Christian heritage of my parents, however as far as life goes; I have had many lessons on repeat. I have stepped back to witness my own patterns. I have had moments where I recognize certain patterns and still find myself caught in a loop of the same dumb mistakes. Refreshingly I have also broken through some major patterns in the last few years that have created a great deal of love, emotional freedom and abundance in my life.
The sutra here refers to actual physical reincarnation. I choose not to take this on any more than the concept of a “God-head” for this discussion. No one can really know what happens after we die other than the dead. It is a topic of little interest to me. Instead I know the one thing I can focus on no matter where the flow of the universe may carry me is living this life to my fullest potential.
This verse speaks to me more metaphorically of deeply submerged patterns that can rise again and again. Each time we revisit a circumstance we carry at least some part of our previous experience with us. We can look at the current circumstance through the lens of our past to help us navigate the situation, but that lens might be clouded with past judgments and ill feelings that may not always serve us in the way we hope. To remove an old pattern we must replace it with a healthy one. This requires that we can step back with the clarity to notice the pattern in the first place and that once we see it for what it really is we actively make a different choice. To choose we must believe we have the skills the options and the power to do so.
Today was the final day of the Sydney Lunar Immersion at House of Yoga with Stefanie Glasenapp, Julia Weis and Jewels Ashby. This final day of the immersion is all about empowering the students to own the skills that they have learned over the week. We began the day with a silent practice of the Lunar Asana sequence. The students self-lead the postures and have the support of everyone doing it at the same time in case they get lost in the flow. When we are lead all the time a certain part of the brain shuts off and always listens for the next cue rather than using its self-direction. Experiencing the practice in this way allows one to really trust the wisdom of their embodiment. It is also wonderful to have the mental spaciousness created by not listening to an instructor to give more time to feel your way into poses and cultivate the subtle aspects in the body.
The rest of the day followed a similar pattern of freedom in movement while having a lead person providing some inspiration. Julia and I each lead a silent Thai massage sequence. Students could visually follow our flow, take variations, or detour completely. Stefanie gave a beautiful demonstration of a therapeutic flight moving our beautiful student (and Birthday Girl) through the air with grace while transitioning in and out of a variety of poses. The students followed suit and the Maha (great) therapeutics flying was touching vision.
The day ended with some chanting and sharing of what we wanted to carry with us from the immersion container. Releasing patterns and creating new ones was top of the list. The exact details vary from person to person, but the clear thread remains, we are all working to become the best part of ourselves. In a space such as this, we have the opportunity to share what that is for each of us and in saying it aloud it seems to take on a very different power.
I thought back to the few days before I left for this trip and stated out loud that I was beginning this blog project. I have wanted to work on my writing more and yet have failed miserably to commit to any consistency. This time when I made my statement to a group I knew that putting it out to my community and giving it voice would help to hold me accountable; So far so good. The more I write the easier it is for me to feel vulnerable and want to drop the whole thing, yet each day I receive some small note that lets me know that at least one person was tuning in and I am again reminded to step towards new patterns in order to release my old ones.
I think the next pattern to shift will be replacing lack of sleep with a commitment to napping. I hope to be held accountable for this one too. Ready to tackle the long flight and face my jet lag!
1.18 VIRAM PRATYAABHYASA PURVAH SAMSKAARASESO’NYAH
Each of us holds a story. We carry with us our lineage and the teachings of our parents, culture, friends, relationships and current communities. Many things are easily processed and forgotten. Some events are fresh and alive in our mental modifications. Others still may have made impressions that can lay dormant until they are ripe to reveal themselves once again.
I am not sure if this trip has been like an Escher painting, where when you soften your gaze and look the image pops forth with unbelievable clarity, or if I am trapped in eerie coincidence after coincidence. Maybe there are other forces at play and I am getting into a groove with the universe that is both messing with and creating clarity in my head simultaneously. It is day three of the Lunar Immersion in Sydney and the body-work is all back body (our yang side and protective framework) and back flying (heart opening and deep back bending moves). The girls and I began our planning and the discussion turned to how we hold onto our old stories and often resist coming into the best part of ourselves by clinging to old ideas of who we are. These latent impressions (memories) take time to simmer and with the right focus and circumstance can come back up. Sometimes this is a sacred and conscious choice as we know what we are working through and at other times the very nature of being human will present the opportunity for us to look at ourselves again and again until we can release what no longer serves us.
The sutra today reflects that final stage where we gain such ultimate control that we can transform our experiences to a point where they no longer hold power over us. It takes the fire of courage to look at each of the pieces that resurface for each of us. We can make the choice to stuff it back down until it will rear its head again, go into denial, or let it build to anger or sorrow, or recognize suffering for what it is and move in the direction of radical change. Transformation doesn’t have to happen all at once. We can take it in stages. This is why we practice the prior sutra 1.17 to move through the many layers of understanding needed to truly be free in our minds.
I am confronted here by a significant shift in a specific relationship. One of the students here, I have met before and We will just call her “My-LESSON”, about two years ago, at a weekend event where we were both in the role of studentship. My recollection of this introduction was anything but endearing. Details will not be provided as it would not serve the story and feel like ill gossip, however to get clear in the scope of this story let us simply say that communication was atrocious, words were cutting and unkind, and lastly I lost my temper and left the relationship with very harsh words and a significant chip on my shoulder. My-LESSON walked into the opening day of the immersion about 45 minutes late. I recognized her immediately and felt my triggers going off full force. Julia was leading a Thai massage sequence and I became instantly aware that as the only teacher freely walking the room at that moment that I would have to partner with her in this dance of compassionate touch. She didn’t seem to recognize me and as I looked at her face I could see that she was worked up and very rushed. I told her to take her time and warm up on her own for a moment while I set up another station.
We proceed to the station and she seemed surprised when I offered to give her the massage first. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to receive from her and I could see that she really needed to calm down and relax. She lay down facing up and closed her eyes. I took a moment to breathe and as I observed her breathing. Her face was holding sadness and I instantly felt like I wanted to cry for her. I channeled every bit of my attention, empathy and compassion towards her. I moved slowly. I didn’t worry about catching up with the group and as I palmed my hands up and down her legs I could feel her thin limbs soften and part under my skin. Halfway through the session I looked back at her face and although she was almost asleep, I saw that she was smiling.
The rest of the day she smiled at me every time I looked in her direction. I later found out that she was late due to caring for her mother who has been very ill. I was informed by a few others that they had experienced resistance to My-LESSON at past classes. They also noticed that she seemed different somehow. We continue with the day and at the end when we all sat in our closing circle she shared some really sweet insights. I had to be willing to change my story to let this new one play out without coloring it from an old history. The love I feel for her as a human, as a woman, as a student, and as My-LESSON is a very powerful source.
As the day plays on I find many different patterns and old stories sitting at the surface and I am curious as to how I can best keep my concentration and allow the process to work for me. It is so potent to breathe through the discomfort of resistance and watch it unravel. A new tapestry is painstakingly woven into something more beautiful.
More photos are coming soon. I hope to have the time to upload them tonight. The pics below were taken by Jewels Ashby.
Boundless Yoga Staff & Students
We are continuously interested on how our reactions and responses to our personal journeys, albeit travel, adventure, new job, etc. mirror and reflect our social, emotional and spiritual ups and downs. We try every day to apply what we learn about ourselves on the yoga mat to our personal lives. Thank you for tuning in as we share some of those aspects with you.