Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The time of god...

The thing about practicing at Brahma muhurtham
the 'time of god' three hours before sunrise
is that by the time I am finished
I step outside to cool undisturbed air
stars still overhead in the pre-dawn twilight
distant chanting and prayers 
ringing in surround sound through the neighborhood
only the occasional tuktuk or far off train or dog barking
hint at a city on the verge of waking.  
And then, almost in one fell swoop
the darkness gives way 
to the tangerine and violet rising of the sun
pushing back that impenetrable stillness
that only moments before rang out 
from the center of my chest like church bells,
now an echo of a dream I dare to remember
as a deep sapphire sky fades to bluish white
ushering in the chaos and cacophony 
of another crazy beautiful (extra)ordinary day
in the madhouse that is India,
the motherland that cracks hearts open
and pours in the light...

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Everything to give...

Well, I'm back in Mysore.  Feels like I never even left.  

I had another dream before I left Austin.  I had been feeling quite anxious about some circumstances that presented me with the opportunity to practice non-attachment in a big way.  I was conflicted about whether I should stay in Austin to deal with the unfortunate situation, or go to India as I had set in motion months ago.  When India calls, it is not a subtle argument.  It is not the sweet whisper of a lover.  No, it is the full force of a new moon tide pulling me toward shore.  There is little option but to surrender.  And my dream whispered to me, "Go.  Go, and take nothing.  She has everything to give..."   

So here I am.  And it is a beautiful, sweet homecoming.

I haven't even been here for a week and already Sharath has me catching my ankles in backbends.  Remembering the lessons from last year, and being thankful for them and integrating them into my practice every day, my practice is so much stronger, more focused, more refined - which is most definitely apparent in my asana practice, but also moreso apparent (to me, at least) in my inner devotional practice.  Last year cracked me open, stripped the outer artifice of the practice away, and let me see all that remains.  With a dislocated rib and pulled intercostals, I was crawling and crying my way through the most basic practice, in terrible pain with every breath, and I realized that everything I need was right there all along.  Yoga is really not about the asanas.  Referring to the asana practice, Guruji said, "Yoga is showing where to look for the soul - that is all."  And in the last year, the sweetness and devotion I found in my cracked open heart has grown and taken root in a much more substantial way, in ways apparent from the outside, and, most importantly, in the infinitely more nuanced inner workings.   

Yesterday was my first day of self-practice at the shala.  I attempted to have a nice leisurely stroll of a practice.  I did a few dropbacks with just a little moral support from one of Sharath's assistants while Sharath kept a watchful eye on me, and then he tells his assistant to 'make her catch' in the final dropback.  To which I responded the only way a person really can to such a direction, with a look of complete shock and terror!  For all you non-ashtangis out there, that means dropping back into backbend from standing and grabbing both your ankles.  I didn't do it quite because I sort of panicked and just ended up landing my hands about two inches from my heels, but I feel somehow like I've been found out, and I should be very, very afraid of what's in store.  'No fear, no fun!'  

And then today, I did dropbacks all by myself without the mental safety net of someone standing right in front of me.  And then another one of Sharath's assistants comes over to do half backs and the final deep dropback.  He asked me if I catch and I'm sure I had that scared look in my eyes and said I never even tried or thought about it until yesterday.  So he talked me through it.  My hands landed nice and close to my heels, and I walked them in until they were just a hair away, then he told me to straighten my arms and he grabbed my right hand, put it on my right ankle, and then did the same with the left.  Then he readjusted me a bit higher on my ankles and told me to straighten my arms again, and I took the usual five breaths before coming back up.  As I was getting squooshed in forward bend, Sharath asked, 'Catching?'  And his assistant replied, 'Yes, catching.  Easy for her.'  Ummmm, yeah... easy.  Hahah!  Not so easy inside my head!  But also not as crazy scary as I could have imagined if given a little more time to think about it. 

So there it is, once again, experiencing first hand how the impossible becomes possible, and one day the possible may actually become easy.  So go do something that scares you, aim for something just out of reach.  Practice.... All is coming!