I have been reading Anne’s blog from this year’s trip to Mysore. Almost everyday there is something in one of her blog posts that resonates with me on the mat here in California. For the last few days I have been mulling over her posts on surrender.
For me practice has become a cord with several interconnected strands and fear and surrender are undoubtedly two of the most fundamental strands. Anne’s post quotes Shelley Washington…
“She [Shelley] said that there are the fears that keep you from dying, and the fears that keep you from living. The trick is, as she saw it, to figure out the difference between them. Lots of days I would just watch the fear come up and come up and come up. I let go of what I could.”
I struggle with the difference. I have been injured a couple of times in the last year. I aways stress over the implications, almost at the level of a hypochondriac. What if I can’t continue to practice, what if, … For the most part the “what if’s” are my problem. I fear the contingency of what might happen. My fears are generally unfounded, but they exist as a very real aspect of my practice.
Right now I am typically going through one of these bouts of uncertainty, instability and fear. Back in November I fell and hurt my knee. The knee is mostly healed – it has a new set of clicks and cracks, but no pain. Part of the healing process, thanks to Ruth Jones a physio that I see has been to learn to engage the down glutes, the muscles on the outside of the buttocks. Now, I have developed a mild burning in my hamstrings, the back of my knees and the outside of my hips. No pain. If I weren’t so hyper-sensitized to my aches and pains, I probably wouldn’t even notice it.
So, I struggle to determine what is real and what is my mind obsessing. I try to surrender and once I am practicing the obsession mostly recedes until I reach one of those poses that are ossified with fear like Marichyasana D. Dominic tried to adjust me in the pose the other day and progress was made. But at a certain point I think I took the pose away from myself. I am not sure how, but I pulled back. He asked afterward, was it my knee or my shoulder. I had to think about it, but it was neither. “Just fear,” I said. Dominic hasn’t really come back to work that pose since. How do you know if you are ready for the pose or whether you are just resisting because of some fear….
The most interesting observation for me now is that I resist, the opposite of surrender. Why can’t I just surrender to the teacher and work the pose? Why must I independently build the confidence to try first? The flip side of this conversation is the need to accept that there may be some poses that my body will never absorb. Knowing and accepting limits, building confidence in one’s own practice, surrendering to the teacher, discerning between the fear to live versus the fear of death, these are all of the strands of practice that I am trying to work through.
I have made the commitment to go to India in the fall, and I am hoping that some how in that more focused environment I will have the confidence to unravel all of this. I’ll have to. No?