Saturday, March 18, 2006


Yesterday’s practice:

I’m attentive to Shiva these days, as I reach an ending – of teacher training, at a minimum. Shiva of the one-point focus. Shiva of the ending of mind-chatter. Shiva of de-structures. Shiva, the fire that burns away what has accumulated. Shiva, the letting go.

So yesterday, thinking of endings and focus, it occurred to me to extend my vipassana meditation practice to my yoga. In vipassana, I watch my mind’s genesis of thoughts, ideas, feelings, fears and the like – maintaining a perceptive distance between the thought and the observation of the thought. Sometimes, that meditation becomes an attention to the stillness from which mind-thoughts arise. So applying that to yoga asana, I started with sound. I shifted my attention from a hearing realm to focus on what is behind what I hear – the background, as it were. In hearing music and sound, sometimes I notice the silence underlying the sound, filling the spaces between the sounds. I began to practice that attention. I expanded the practice to what I was seeing, trying to see through or past was was before me to perceive what is behind the sights. It kind of worked. It worked best when I maintained my gaze constantly on a single point.

From there, I moved into the asana practice – working, exerting, twisting, extending, contracting. In one of the more difficult poses for me – revolved crescent lunge – (this is a tiny picture of it, but it’s the only one I can find on the web --, it occurred to me that there ought to be a way of going behind physicality, just as there was with vision and hearing. So, in moving into revolved crescent lunge, I “did” the same thing. What I found was that the focus on what was behind makes hard things easier – it revealed to me the portion of the struggle that happens only in my mind, freeing my body to deepen, maintain. Though in that meditation mode, I perceived my breathing to be a purely physical action, the walls between breathing and the background seem thinner than those between most physical action and what is behind physical action.

I need to try this with other experiences and sensations.

Perhaps that attention is the beginning of one point focus – the dharana Patanjali writes about.