Friday, November 12, 2010

Sugar Candy: A Beautiful Practice

When someone compliments me, I know they are making judgments, but it is deeply sweet. Just like sugar candy, we so easily learn to crave that sweetness. Beauty is in the mind, a way of appreciating or noticing some thing or attribute, and that has this sweetness too. Like watching a dancer move through a choreography suited to their nature or the musical score, or when the light at 4pm strikes the tree tops just so, or when the breath carries me through Surya Namasakar (sun salutation) from the inside. It is grace made visible.

When I go to different studios, sometimes teachers come up and actually say to me, "You have a beautiful practice."

The first time it happened it was like the candy, a little shock at the sweetness, and that warm melting feeling that comes with pride and ego growing. Then, like steam dissipating, the little sweet droplets began separating on my tongue and I wondered what does this mean?

It happened again today. Not saying it happens all the time, but I am beginning to find that it is not unusual. And I am finding that I can see the candy as the confection it is, without having to eat it.

My practice is simply me, connecting to the energy that the breath brings me, and trying to hear what the teacher is offering me. I can feel clumsy, funny, and smooth. I can find all kinds of things interesting along the path that another teacher is offering me. Sometimes I rebel against a tone or a sequence or an attitude, but when that happens it becomes my practice too. The practice of watching myself judge myself as somehow mismatched to the moment. That is, of course, impossible, since there is nothing else but that moment and obviously I'm right in it! So it is me chafing at being... which more often than not makes me laugh when I see that it is happening.

Actually, now, today, when it happened again, I saw that it was simply the grace of the breath made visible.

So I looked around and wondered if the teacher also saw beauty in the man standing there fighting with himself about balancing, rather than taking an accommodation for his hamstring situation and letting his body rest in balance. Maybe seeing it in that woman folded in child's pose instead of taking a twisted Ardha Chandrasana balance (standing half moon, with opposite hand down). Or could it be seen in the practice of that dancer in the corner with the incredible lines from fingertips to toes, or that young man who was finding new space in his spine while he tried to relax his forehead. Every one of them was beautiful to me, as they searched their souls for freedom in that moment to let the body twist, rise, extend, stretch, deepen, breathe, and be in a most specific way! Willingly, and with concentration, each one of them was expressing grace as it was in that moment, for them, in that body, on that day.

So next time I see a piece of dark chocolate and crave that sweetness melting in my mouth, I will think of grace, and simply take a piece. There is no need to reject the compliment, nor to make any more of it than its intention of appreciation. I'm learning to leave ego out of it, and just be grateful for the flow of grace.

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