Thursday, July 27, 2006

surrender into reality

This month, the theme in my classes has been "Future suffering can and should be avoided." This is from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (# 2.16)... and has caught my attention for many years. It's a preposterous statement - such a thought-provoking assertion.

So, all month, this topic has been on my mind... I've been reading about it, teaching about it, talking about it, and thinking about it. I've got to thinking about the times when I have suffered most... and the times when I have suffered least. About the various ways and degrees in which I have suffered... and the ways and degrees to which I've been responsible for my own suffering. Very fascinating. And humbling too, by the way.

When I'm lucky, I feel like my asana practice takes me into the present moment. There's a depth, or infinity, there... like an endless well. A timelessness... expansive and contractive all at once.

That sort of feeling, the feeling of being present in the moment, and open to every possible outcome, as it unfolds - is the position of least suffering for me. When I am able to explore/ask questions/wait for answers/play/breathe...

The position of most suffering is when I have a plan or outcome that I am heavily invested in/attached to, and which does not unfold according to my fantasies. So hard to accept, and so hard to adapt to. All my energy goes into resisting the situation, rather than making the most with what I've got.

But of course, there's some sort of balance. I've got to have discipline to make it into the art studio or onto the yoga mat. I've got to have information and insight in order to come up with something worthwhile. There's a balance of logic and intuition.

At times I've felt my practice swing too far toward intuition. The poses get a bit sloppy. The discipline fades a bit. It becomes self-indulgent. It becomes purely sensory. With art making, the equivalent is when my art becomes repetetive, self-referential. When the pieces are more like doodles... unattached to sincere reflection or purpose. When the pieces are not intended for communication, and their inspiration doesn't extend beyond my own microcosm. The marks are free and sloppy and uncoordinated with each other.

Other times, my practice has swung in the opposite direction, All Logic. Lots of brain work - planning what I'll do and why I'll do it. It doesn't work for me. I get mentally constricted. I get cranky and feel undernourished. The self is denied entirely. I'll do poses even though they don't feel good. I guess the art equivalent is when a piece or a series becomes pure repetition. Something I'm doing because I've determined I'll do it... and the reflection has stopped. The marks are stiff and lifeless.

The rare and glorious moments of inspiration have that same feeling of infinite depth as the present moment. The idea comes from the depths of the heart, and reflects off the skills of the mind... so that the intuition and the intellect bounce off each other over and over. Each move forward carries both elements along.


Blogger bh said...

It's OK to doodle. Doodling is good for the soul...and a whole lot more. It's a normal and necessary part of being. It frees the soul and fulfills the purpose of no purpose. Very valuable and absolutely essential to the understanding of non-doodling. The pendulum swings left, the pendulum swings right. All is in process. Breath in, breath out... ;)

8:05 PM  
Blogger Steven LaRose said...

I feel ya.
What came to my mind was the difference between a "groove" and a "rut". Same shape, different quality of attention.

10:19 PM  
Blogger springsandwells said...

yeah steven... i like the groove v rut idea. it's all about the quality of attention for me. Obviously I've got nothing against free form creativity... but I can feel the difference between when it's generated from the heart-mind or when it's generated from sheer muscle memory. In college I actually shifted to painting with my left hand for quite a while, with great results. I did it because I started to realize how easily the muscles of my R hand could take over on their own, and completely lose connection with my eyes & my general sense of focus. But my left hand was quite unsure of itself and couldn't do anything without total concentration. It's an interesting exercize. These days, after doing so much yoga & meditation & pranayama... I feel more able to take the "mindlessness" out of my R arm... but remembering this does make me consider trying the L hand again. Anyhow, groove & rut is nice... thanks.

8:38 AM  

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