So yesterday Dominic’s Workshop began with a three-hour discussion and mini-practice. Two things stood out for me – a discussion of fear in practice and the other a discussion of practice as almost a biological commitment, somewhere between eating and brushing your teeth. (my interpretation, nothing that Dom or Saisha said).
So, first on fear. Probably the emotion that most clouds my practice. Fear of injury, fear of not progressing, as Dominic pointed out the fear of aging and eventually death. I am hyper-conscious of fear right now because of the changes going on in my knees. Both more open and also both unstable. The changes going on in my hips, where the I have discovered what I think may be the muscles that help with the bandhas. But I still approach certain poses with the fear of potentially a deep injury or a set back that I will never overcome. The question was left with how to use fear to advance one’s concentration in practice.
The second on Practice and Change. As part of the discussion, Saisha helped string together a couple of things that I have seen happening in my life and my practice. First, at a certain point practice moves from being a workout – for me the first year or 18 months. Then, it becomes somewhere between a hobby and a social commitment – this is where it is for me now, I think. But, increasingly it becomes almost a necessity, like sleeping. Something that you crave when you don’t have it. I touch this stage when I can keep some balance between work and life. As a necessity many less critical behaviors and habits begin to change to support it. Some of these happened early – like going to bed early. But I am beginning to notice the role of diet – coffee in the AM, has given away to milk tea, which I think will need to give way to green tea because the milk makes me burp during practice. You begin to examine almost every action, almost without thinking about it, as a potential contributor to practice. Movie popcorn (which I love) at almost anytime has an impact. I think it is the salt.
I have been through years of resolutions to change my diet, be more focused, … the list goes on and on. Just a look at earlier posts on this blog will give you a hint. But, I think I should do what I can to move into this more “biological” phase and see if the other aspects, just fall away.
I think the trick to getting to this next phase here may be focus. I am a notorious fidgeter in practice. I play with my towel and mat and the rug. I look around. Distracted. But once in a while, you stumble into a glide. For me it tends to last not more than a couple of poses and then it disappears. But, again in the discussion yesterday Dominic and Saisha both emphasized both the breath and the gaze as critical to practice. I tried to focus on both breath and gaze this morning. Extremely hard for me, but almost. You could almost feel the glide just out of reach. Maybe in the morning.