I did not grow up celebrating Easter, but my life began to include some of the traditions when I had children. One of our family activities was to hide jelly beans in plain sight all around the kitchen and invite the kids to find them. Some years we wove little paper baskets, other years just handed out small collection bowls. Always we made sure there were high ones and low ones, that the colors of the beans matched as many of the objects upon which they were hidden, and that it would be fun rather than a chore to find them in unexpected places.
Discovering that which is hiding in plain sight seems to fit in naturally with a yoga practice. Maybe it was those jelly beans helped teach me to look more closely for the parts that merge into the form or color, the pieces that actually are not part of the object. Even my own breath can shed bits and pieces that have attached to it. If I really allow my attention to follow my breath, I discover that I can release a certain amount of unnecessary effort even there, that there is a specific texture to the breath in this moment, that the breath can direct the body or that I can choose to direct the breath. Over time I can see that I use my breath in specific ways, and can discover new ways to allow my breath to support me.
Our habits seem obvious to others, but sometimes remain strangely invisible to ourselves. The jelly beans are hiding in plain sight. Patterns that have evolved as useful in the past, placed carefully at one time, become less useful and sometimes a great inhibition in the present. Simply turning attention on this helps reveal the little bits that have been added and sometimes reveals the structure. These can then be taken apart and set aside for use when useful, or simply let them go.
Through yoga practice we see obvious but unrecognized elements, like our tendency to cross right leg over left, and not so obvious, like holding our breath in utkatasana (chair/fierce pose). Noticing the pattern that is right there in the open is the first step... like finding the red jelly bean sitting on a red milk cap, or the yellow one resting between the bananas. This is the beginning of seeing who we are, and once that begins, the study of oneself can lead to all the treasures resting in the nature of being, being human, being part of the larger world, feeling alive.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Finding the Jelly Beans
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