Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not Knowing What Matters: And It Doesn't

A state of mind can color everything it sees. The same is true for a yoga practice. When I study a particular sutra, or focus in on one of the eight limbs, let's say picking a Yama or Niyama, or work my way through time with a particular breathing practice, it changes so many other experiences. The value of doing this mindfully is just like any study, or evaluative process: it enables a deeper view that can reveal more than the superficial experience.

At the same time, my asana practice has its own trajectory that combines some unforeseeable physical imperative with whatever is in my mind. Even if I start out thinking that I am going to focus on a particular asana, as I did with triangle pose, Trkonasana, the practice takes me in and out of a folding and unfolding and turns out to be an insightful play of how the limbs support the spine. Oh sure, I did some Trkonasana too, and certainly found it integrated into this profound inquiry, but this was part of the unfolding line built on a foundation that revealed itself as I practiced. Perhaps the idea of Trkonasana was the spark that evoked the fire of this inquiry. The intention created the exploration and led into the unknown.  Perhaps if I had simply explored Trkonasana, I would have met all my foregone conclusions, confirming some settings that I had already put in place.

So here I am, looking at intention and the mind, watching experience and integration of meaning, and wondering why it would make any difference which comes first. Is this just another chicken and the egg question?

There is a formal quality to an inquiry premised on a particular aspect of mind. There is a deeply spiritual quality in an inquiry that is rooted in the unforeseen.  I make no pretense of knowing what matters here, and feel more and more strongly that it doesn't matter at all what anyone "thinks" is important.  It turns out to be just thinking after all.  The experience of being present, learning how to open awareness, accepting whatever is so, and letting go of the judging of every little thing only deepens.  But one moment it is the methodical and intellectual inquiry that draws us and another it is the movement of the beating heart that shifts the mind. Can I say definitively that it was my intention to investigate Trkonasana that provoked the inquiry that actually happened in my practice? I cannot, yet I also feel the sweet yoking of intention and inquiry, even if I have no way to substantiate it.

1 comment:

  1. There are a lot of consonants in these words that are completely foreign to a gal who's fluent only in English and Southern and has just had 2 classes of yoga. But this: "The experience of being present, learning how to open awareness, accepting whatever is so, and letting go of the judging of every little thing only deepens." - I've found that to be true in stitching, in walking, in writing, in anything i'm doing. Or not doing.