One with World and Practice

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Sunset at Fort Bragg’s coastline in Mendocino, California.

How many times have we looked out into the great big world, taking in one of those breathtaking views, and are awed by all that we are not? We are inspired, our imagination stirred, we are humbled, but these feelings also put us in different places–us and the world.

What would it be like to look out at the greatness that is and see a reflection of ourselves? What would it be like if we saw sameness instead of separation? If we looked out and instead of noting difference, we say: “wow, I’m a part of that,” or “that’s me, too!”

What if we looked at everything, big and small, every person we meet, no matter what the circumstance, every interaction we have in the same manner? Imagine how different life might be.

In the microcosm, this is a challenge we meet in daily practice–at least, I know I do. There’s me and then there’s the room and the people in the room. There’s my practice, and then the practice of others and my idea of an ideal practice. How many times does our drishti (point of focus) slide and we take in through our periphery some excellent (or sometimes, less than excellent) posturing and we compare ourselves to another?

There was a time when I looked upon these thoughts with a great deal of shame; I wanted  to be above it all, thinking that would make me a good yoga practitioner.

When these thoughts come up nowadays, I find more humor in them and more gratefulness for them. For the function of practice is to tease these reflections of the ego up to the surface where they can be seen in the full light of day–that they come up is not a problem but a part of a solution. As we observe them, they come up less and less and they subtly loose their power.

More and more, I have different kinds of moments when I’m teaching  or when I am practicing. Sometimes, I perceive someone who may be dissimilar in practice, body type, everything, and still I think: yup, that’s me! Maybe the current me, or 7-years-ago me, or the me I might be in a few years, but that’s me, that’s my experience also, that’s my challenge, that’s my strongpoint too, that’s my fear–and in these incredibly precious moments, I see sameness, I feel compassion.

There are other times when I see someone doing just the most impossible, gravity-defying, beautiful thing, which I cannot even imagine getting close to, and I feel beyond envy this great sense of incalculable possibility. I am inspired by our shared potentiality, though it will, no doubt, express itself differently for me.

And then, there’s the practice, which is so very personal. Yet, over time, it starts to feel quite impersonal also. Especially in a mysore space, there’s the practice that I feel is mine, (my mat, my body, my motions) and then there’s the practice that is ours, that is shared in the room, and beyond that, a practice that is shared by a global community that is still connected from teacher to student, teacher to student, all the way back to Mysore, India, the way it has been since the beginning. Then there’s the practice that is shared by everyone, which is life…

I know this looking at unity instead of difference is hard to sustain, so conditioned are we to compare or to see our own smallness.

But the photo above had me thinking about this man looking at the sunset. I imagine his awe at the scene before him, the sun setting into the Pacific coloring the Northern Californian coastline. I wonder, is he thinking: “wow, that’s a sight” or “aren’t we just amazing!” From where I’m sitting, I am also in awe and he is as much a part of the magnificent landscape, his presence completes the scene–and I am also a part of it, even though, from where I’m sitting, I might not see it.

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Everything Changes: Story of Broken Glass

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Handful of change. Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach in Mendocino, California.

A week and a half ago, for the last moon day (a new moon, no less!) I was at Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach, pictured above. Here it glitters all golden as the afternoon sun reflects against glass pebbles of all hues, clear, white, green, amber, some blues. The beach was once a dumping ground for trash. It has long since been cleaned up, but what remains is this incredible beach of stunning sea glass, shards of glass bottles broken and rounded by water and waves.

There’s no stopping change. This is actually a good thing. Because all of that terrible stuff, the events that we might freak out about, the things we think are such a waste, they transform too. What may seem like a loss, a tragedy, a mistake turns out to be a gift of immeasurable worth and beauty.

In my own life, I suffer the most in the moments where I have resisted change. I create so much tension in my emotions and in my body. And everything has this “stuck” feeling.

Eventually, I get tired, so tired that I relax enough to see that time, nature, the “nature” of nature, which is change, is moving in the same direction that I really want to go in anyway, only usually better, a lot better. How ironic it is that the thing which challenges us, that recognition of our own impermanence, is also what gives birth to so much possibility. And life is simply a journey in which we learn to trust in that.

This Sunday is Mysore Sunday

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Mysore Sundays with Kaz here in Mysore SF.

With Moon Day on Monday, this Sunday, October 11 is a good day to hunker down for practice with support of a teacher (in this case, me!). We offer Mysore Sundays on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month. Class is between 8-10am, at the Annex, 1420 Harrison St @ 10th. For more info on us, look us up on Facebook Mysore SF or http://www.mysoresf.com.