June posts at Five Tattvas

I received a request to highlight posts I am making at Five Tattvas here. Below is a digest for the June posts so I can share some of those thoughts here.

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In an earlier post announcing my work with Five Tattvas, I described my first post, but I’ll re-summarize here. “I’m not there yet” focuses on lengthening the space between stimulus and reaction. Though the title could be read differently, I am thinking of that “there” space as less of a specific goal to achieve and more as a process to appreciate. Part of this process is noting the gains I have made thus far in my efforts to be less reactive.

Here’s an excerpt:

But the man who is self-controlled,
who meets the objects of the senses
With neither craving nor aversion,
Will attain serenity at last.
                      – Bhagavad Gita 2.64

I like this passage from the Gita. It’s aspirational in a way that seems out of my grasp, yet reminds me, at the same time, to not be so grasping. Even to “like” it, is to fall into the very response that it warns against: craving (raga) and aversion (dvesha). Just envisioning what this would be like is difficult for me. What would it mean to meet each sense object, each next thing, each past thing, with equanimity?

I’m not there yet.

Read the full post here.

My second post “Strength in the Broken Places” focused on working with an injury, especially one incurred during yoga practice. I got quite a good response on that one, which I was surprised about as it was such a personal story of my own journey through injury. Goes to show you never know what experience may connect with, and help, others.

Here’s an excerpt:

There is a whole other blog post to be found in the question of intention and attention when speaking of injury in yoga, in the mandate that ahimsa begins at home, but I want to think here about the practice we develop while injured (if an injury doesn’t make us quit altogether). In part, my approach might be seen as a “lemonade from lemons” attitude, but it’s more along the lines of poet Derek Walcott’s perspective in his Nobel Prize Lecture:

Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.

For me, that love is the gift of injury, even one – perhaps especially one – sustained on the mat. An injury places us inside our bodies in a way that is often missing in a wholly healthy physical practice. We take for granted that we can bend without pain, that we can reach without pre-set limitation, that we can always “work at our edge” and “progress.” In its often frustrating ever-presence, an injury demands that we face how we take wholeness for granted.

Read the full post here.

My third post, “Letting Go of Giving Up,” was a struggle to write. You know when you need to write something, something you promised, something for which the deadline has come and gone, and yet, it still seems impossible? This was that post for me. In part because I was starting to hear back from folks about my previous posts and I was trying to write according to that feedback. This blog ended up being about the impossibility of that venture. I also thought some here about the connections (and disconnections) between yoga and writing.

Here’s an excerpt:

Much as I’ve been writing for longer than I’ve been (steadily) practicing yoga, I have yet to do more than glimpse that balance between effort and non-attachment. I have several critics in my head, stemming from real and imagined readers. True, in asana practice I can also hear snatches of remembered teachings – sometimes admonishments – about proper form and alignment. But that’s in the moment, while I can still do something about it; with most public writing, the critiques come after the hard part is over. The more we develop an asana practice, the more we come to realize there is no one “right” pose, and in teaching we learn this even more as we observe and instruct an array of bodies. With writing, however, we continue to labor under the impression that there are right words, and that if we try hard enough, we will find them.

Read the full post here.

My most recent post “Another Again: On Sequencing In Repetition” was posted in July, but I’ll include it here since I’ve been meaning to post this digest for a while. It spoke to something I’ve been hearing in the hallways of yoga studios lately: repetitious practice. I am attracted to teachers and lineages that have set sequences and believe I can notice more about myself and my tendencies when I repeat asanas. I strive for routine in my regular life and am more often than not stymied in that goal, so having a familiar sequence of poses gives me the illusion of control and growth.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rather than allowing you to check out, an oft-repeated sequence offers you the opportunity to really check in with your physical practice. You can let go of wondering (or trying to predict) where the teacher is headed with this sequence and thereby get out of your head and into your body. You can feel when your hips or hamstrings are tighter than usual because you have worked at the edge of this pose already several times this week or month. On the other end of that spectrum, you can notice “progress” in a pose, that elusive pay-off that we are not supposed to seek, but are more than pleased when it lands on our mat. And in the pendulum that is repeated practice, working a similar sequence regularly can teach you the futility of being attached to those results, because at any moment, the shape your body achieved yesterday could inexplicably become unattainable again (where, oh where has my unassisted Padmasana gone?).

Read the full post here.

I hope you find one or more of my Five Tattvas posts informative or entertaining or just useful in some way. If you’re interested in more from the site, they have a free weekly e-zine that you can sign up for here.

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