Friday, April 12, 2013

Asana & Mind: Twisting as a State not an Action

Don't we imagine that the goal is to twist as far as we possibly can? Of course we all begin with striving and measuring how we think we do in relation to images in our mind or presented by the bodies next to us. The next stage is our effort to identify what is happening and how it happens  and in doing that we get attached to the specifics like pressing into the thumb and index finger in downward facing dog or focusing on drawing the left ribs towards the back body or towards the ceiling in a spinal twist. But these are not the goals nor are they really the pivotal mechanisms in that down dog or spinal twist, warrior or headstand. We can only find our way once we see where it is in our self that yearns and overworks, where our energy disconnects or pools, and how our judging mind blocks our path and builds our habitual patterns. Yes, there is a building of familiarity with how the body works, and our own body in particular, but the twist is more about opening the mind, than seeing the room behind you.

Beginning,  we open our attention to new places in the body and experience our own efforts with both wariness and awareness. Once we feel the outer edge of that foot in a standing pose and discover the internal shift it takes to feel the inner heel at the same time, we can stop focusing on that and begin to follow the line up the body, balancing the pelvis between the legs, then drawing the energy up the legs and in towards the pelvis and then moving our awareness from place to place, adjusting the fulcrum of our attention and effort. In  beginning we must activate an acuity of attention and forge a balance in our awareness and effort.

Then we let that go. We are not perfecting a particular pressure of foot or angle of hip. We are not drawing the ribs around the body to create torque in the spine and a sore ribcage. More effort is not the goal nor does it produce bliss. Even worse than our habitual patterns might be replacing them with over efforting and rigid assumptions. In this process we can learn about inquiry, about our actions, our urgencies, and our minds.

Effort is required of the mind to observe and attend to the body in any moment.  Effort is also required in the body to bring the mind into an alert and informed state. It is at this point that spaciousness and ease can enter the practice. The equation shifts when we allow the body to relax into a posture of supported effort and the mind to release judging and adjusting that effort and begin to explore being in a pose. It is this quality of being that opens the box of possibilities.

It is this moment that may be missed  if our practice requires constant  motion and use of effort to keep going. though we may burn through resistance of one kind we may be catering to habitual patterns of resistance too. We can build muscular and cardiovascular strength and cultivate intimacy when we let go of the constant physical negotiation for deeper, harder, or really just more.  In the silence of being in a pose, we find our breath, we can use the mind to soften the fierceness of the body. By opening ease in the midst of all the effort we begin a new adventure of adeptly holding a posture without continuing to "work" on it. Then the work is in the energy, breath, and awareness, supported by mindful conscious alignment of bone and muscle.

At a certain point in the twist it is important to let go of the act of twisting and experience the support and clarity of being twisted.

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