If we don't experience this moment right now, when will we? What we remember, or how something looked or felt in retrospect is a way of using this moment, a way of using this moment to push away being fully present now. Memory is wonderful in its capacity to tell a story, like a good director formulating and highlighting the point of view for the viewer. Memory and understanding are closely linked I think, yet there is room for separation given different circumstances. What we remember and how we understand are changing conditions of mind. There is stability and freedom in knowing that whatever came before and whatever comes after, we are here now. The now is continuous. It is just this. This. This. The moment we turn our attention internally to tell ourselves a story we are not quite here now, a bit like sleeping.
Yoga is a practice of tuning. I encouraged my students yesterday to allow their motion to be dominated by their breath. Move as the breath moves, stretching the palm as the inhale fills the body, release the effort as the exhale releases the breath. Pause when the breath pauses. Explore the continuous nature of the breath in the motion if it is seamless. Tuning the instrument of our own awareness. What do we notice? Watch the feelings come and go. Note any sensations. If not this moment, then when? If we are not here now, where are we? We are always here now, but so very often allow conditions of the mind to blunt our awareness, to absorb our energy in repetitive patterns and closed circuits.
When I teach, in some ways I have no idea what is going to happen next. My attention is alert to my being, alert to the energy and the physical and emotional signals among my students. I have trained my attention to be explorative and curious within the bounds of my own experience and from studying the experiences of others. I see anatomy drawings in a text book of body parts I cannot look at in myself, and can visualize them in action. My body can open to the understanding of its own mechanics, my teaching sequence can absorb this and integrate this exploration into the experiences my students are having. The energy and momentum of years of practice and study feeds the moment, but does not direct it. The moment has its own conditions and my students experience that in themselves.
Practicing yoga we are intensely present, experiencing ourselves as individuals and in a universal way. The conditions are different than doing push ups, even though I might use the same muscles as I draw my shoulders over my wrists. Entering in and out of plank, I have rotated my shoulders back, stretched my ribs to the breath, balanced on the balls of my feet, lifted the bones in my thighs, drawn up my deep abdominal core energy and made space in my spine and neck. So much of myself is in use in that moment, that the experience itself is rich in possibility. Of course I am using my muscles, but that is the least of it. I am being myself. This is what I offer to my students as an exploration: to experience this moment. This moment. This.