raising awareness of ‘lightness’

      Warning: This post is going to be very stream of conscience

 

 

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“Heaviness” has always been a part of who I am as an athlete and as a student.

Heaviness is an approach that developed, I believe, out of necessity, although I am immediately aware of the limiting belief of what I just wrote… to get things done the best way I could using what I had at the time — and that I now think of in terms of hitting things HARD… Using force… making an impact… even struggling, but persevering.  I’ve heard it referred to as ‘grinding’, powering through, muscling… There’s no implication of faith or of lightness of being or floating…

That approach helped me to achieve quite a bit in life. In fact by many I am deemed a success. See my desire, visualize the outcome, and use drive and determination to make it happen.

Digression: Beginning about 25 years ago, I began to become acquainted with the idea that letting go, having faith and trust, and not just always ‘applying myself’ can bring about miraculous change…

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Yes I said 25 years ago. I am a slow learner. Slow but when I learn something, generally I really get it.  In yoga I jokingly refer to my asana practice changing by ‘microns’, joyfully.  This contrasts with my many years of running and racing — keeping stats (distance, pace, feeling, weather…) and frequent disappointments over now always attaining a personal best.

So here is where I am at 2+ years into a fairly dedicated yoga routine… ” Instead of struggling and straining in poses (as we may do in life with the stage-play), try to find ease and comfort. Struggle builds tension and tension creates closure and blockage. We become stuck. So we must try and lighten!” (Taken from this beautifully written article: Lightness and Yoga )

Nowhere in my practice do I notice this more than in inversions like handstand and forearm balance.  Calmness is the key to lightness for me here.  This is why I do those each day. I check in with my ability to breath calmly and deeply.

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It has only been through persistent and sincere practice that I am beginning to sense this: “This can be done by finding the pose and easing into it, not bashing and crashing into it! Lift the burden of the pose and transform it upwards. This is really the key: an upward movement! Try to bring the pose from a sinking mode into a balance between ground and sky, between root and lightness. Then you will find that the body begins to feel light and open.” (Taken from the same article)

As I stated in the beginning… I have lived a lot of my life as a basher and crasher, and so, what I have felt persistently in my practice is a sense of sinking.  Recently my instructor stated “some of your postures look heavy”… and he then watched me in a series of inversions… after which he wanted to know “How did I feel”… The truth was, the power of being at a balance point feels scary to me.  And so, ‘I hold back…’ and ‘do what I need to do to get my weight back on the ground’…

I see other yogis practice, and I love the way so many float… so many move through space without momentum… just literally defying gravity – from the look of it, and I think of how I practice, and have been intrigued because the method I have been employing might not get me there, ever.  But… and this is the good part… the way I practice brought me to the awareness, once again, that I have developed mechanisms for living that once worked, but that now need to be edited, or let go of.

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I hope my experience and observation reaches some of you — and if so then this sharing has been worth writing.  If you see me bashing and crashing, come talk to me, and if I see you I’ll remind you as well.

My progress is measured in sustainability, in microns, and in gradually becoming less addicted to gravity.

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