L.O.S. Weeks 36 through 44
“Ramakrishna said that our attempts to go to Brahman and report back what it’s like are like sending a salt doll – a doll made out of salt – to the bottom of the ocean to determine its depth. On the way, the doll will totally dissolve, and there will be nobody left to report back.”
– Ram Dass, from Paths to God, recalling Ramakrishna’s endeavour to describe samadhi to his students
In plain talk, we’re pretty far down the rabbit hole at this point, people. I haven’t been able to transcribe all of the asanas for each section, nor have I been entirely clear on what specifically is transpiring in my own experience as the weeks progress, and now that I’m approaching the year anniversary of Project LOS, if I were to try to describe the full transition I wouldn’t even know where to start. I figure having the asanas written is not so important cause if you’re reading this you probably have the book and you can look it up yourself, plus while the project remains firmly anchored in the physical body the effects are becoming less tangible, less anatomical, less intellectual even: the shifts seem to be manifesting as dreams [which are often nightmares at this point, womp womp, requiring a steady meditative hand during the days] and flashes of people or situations in one day that manifest or show themselves in the next 48 or 72 hours. The structural changes in the Week 36-40 series hinge around Vatyanasana and Akarna Dhanurasana, addressing iliopsoas and quadratus lumborum among others, and then BKS has been good enough to bestow Urdhva Dhanurasana on us as the final pose before rest, plus some Uddhiyana Bandha practice which will get your motor running. It’s good spinal therapy. Then in weeks 40 through 44 he says just “consolidate” the poses up to this point, which I’m not sure what that means in this context but I just kept doing the previous weeks’ sequence…
…and then yesterday I completed the first time all the way through the Week 45-50 sequence with all the trimmings and had my little blown yet again by the sophistication and cumulative construction of the program. The sequences are lasting for longer chunks of time and building physical stamina in Urdhva by way of 6 repetitions; pranayam is increasing in length and volatility. Note to any of you practicing this along with me, or who want to start it: do not skip Nadi Shodana.
When I first started to take yoga classes I considered the physical adeptness of my instructors to be their resume. Anybody able to do those things, I reasoned, must have put in some amount of time and rigor, and therefore I don’t really need to see their accreditation or have anybody’s blessing, as long as they tell me what THEY did I should be good to go. The obverse of this somewhat simple-minded assessment is the old trope of “a practitioner may have a very able body and still behave badly, or be unable to convey the relevant information”, leading to the soul- and confidence-shattering feeling that many teachers I talk to now have: that they cannot do what their students want to do, or even what they dream for their students to be able to do, and as such [apart from the ego taking a hit] they feel that they lack the visceral experience of being able to guide students *from inside the body*, apart from methodology or technical precision.
I now believe that the reality of all practitioners’ bodies, of all disciplines and paths, is refracting in the light of our cumulative practice and our boundary-expanding explorations of what yoga is and what we are doing: our swampy doubts, our iconoclasm and rebellion, our neo-traditionalism, all are literally changing the fabric of the collective consciousness, and as such anatomical certainty or methodological certainty is losing some of its power. As soon as something becomes the dogma, a new force rises to combat it: we are mired in the dialectic. This is not a comfortable place to be since most human beings crave certainty on some level or another. Seeing the execution of asana even in the purely acrobatic sense is at least *real* for the person doing it, and that realness grounds the exercise in a way that methodology and theory, particularly not with the amount of time and patience that truly transformational practice requires, can’t always do.
It’s been hard to hear how much students miss Anusara Yoga, at least the way I taught it. I have often felt sheepish and sometimes ashamed at either having gone as far with the organization as I did, or for leaving it, either way still seems a little bit fraught when people bring it up. One of the most face-palming moments is always when somebody speaks of their connection between the unseen, unspeakable Spirit and the observable body by way of some theme or another, because while I do genuinely know that connection exists and is constantly feeding itself, the explicit relationship was probably me doing some sort of mental gymastics to get a Principle of Alignment to come to heel at the feet of Cit+Ananda or some other such high falutin nonsense: I’m not saying the connection isn’t there, I’m saying I forced the connection. I’m not saying I don’t feel spirit in the body, I’m saying I didn’t always feel it manifesting in predictable or observable ways. And that makes me wonder whether it is observable at all, and *that* makes me realize how easy it was to allow John to get up to his inconsistent weirdness and malfeasance, because if it’s not empirical and observable, how do you know you’re “seeing the Good” or “serving the community” or whatever high-minded conceptual fluff you’re supposed to be engaged in at that moment? Why didn’t I trust myself more, and why do others often not trust themselves? Who do you believe, me or your own lyin’ eyes?
Which leads me to a formal shift in the nature of this blog, and my writing and teaching from here on in: I am going to try to concentrate more on my other great love, politics, [you know, with all of my free time!!!] and see if we can’t take all of the ammunition and steadfast pursuit of healing and truth that we’ve built up from yoga and give it to something substantial that would generate more broad-based change. There are parallels between the fog of fuzzy thinking around spiritual endeavour and the fog of fuzzy thinking around social analysis and I want to dispel some of that fog periodically. I have three five-week pre-registered classes taking place throughout 2013 and I will be announcing their curriculum and focus as they get closer. Those of you interested in being contacted about these offerings should email me…my first name backward at gmail and so on.
Pure Love/Pure Critique
You can love somebody very deeply and still know that they are making decisions that hurt you, or hurt themselves. You can respect somebody and know that their facts are wrong. These paradoxes are SPIRITUAL paradoxes and require technologies that stabilize your emotional life while clearing your mind to candidly observe truth, either in your own body in asana, in your own family dynamic, or in the culture at large. It’s been the conflation of criticism with hate, or questioning with disrespect, that has enabled the fuzzy fog to descend around guru culture, corporate culture, and democracy. The exertion that it takes to have the conversations, to hold the meetings, to process the conflicts, is considerable and not for the faint of heart; and we regularly lose articulate voices, who should be heard on vital matters of environment and government, to fatigue/rage. I believe yoga and its attendant disciplines to be a great boon to those involved in activism and mediation. I think now that we have made our bodies and minds stronger it would be good to be able to look confidently and clearly at cultural myths like supply-side economics or a “post-feminist society” and see them for the bamboozlement that they are. This will give us [along with more personal initiatives like benefit classes, food drives etc] a larger structural mechanism for resuscitating our world. The twins thank you in advance for your efforts.