Thursday, 30 January 2014

Enthusiasmos and getting stuck...

Feels like I haven't posted about my practice in ages despite it going through constant changes. The fact is I'd been sick for 3 weeks solid and my energy reserves were getting dangerously low. The last two days I've felt like a different person, full of prana.

In class today Vijay told me after a painful upavistha konasana where I thought my adductors would tear apart (we are working on opening my hips), that I should still do a jump back (not step back - oh no!) .....but with enthusiasm... as without enthusiasm I would not be looking forward to the next posture. When Vijay mentioned enthusiasm I immediately thought of a line in 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.

"The Greeks called it 'enthousiasmos', the root of 'enthusiasm', which literally means 'filled with theos', or God, or Quality." A person filled with enthusiasm doesn't sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He's at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what's up the next track and meeting it when it comes. Enthusiasm occurs when one is quiet long enough to see and hear and feel the real universe, not just one's own stale opinions about it.

You have to care about your practice. It is important to try to practice with care as it is closely tied to quality. And as we know, things made without quality, frankly suck. "A person who sees quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who's bound to have some characteristics of quality." "Quality is the Buddha. Quality is scientific reality. Quality is the goal of Art."

The practice should be carried out with as little effort as possible and without desire. If you become restless, speed up, if you become winded slow down. You practice in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion, then when you're no longer thinking ahead, each posture, each vinyasa, isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. You begin to notice things as they are. "To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top." So I've been told... I need to put more quality into my practice, every little detail is important. Vijay's very strict, but very wise.

So about getting stuck. I am so close to being able to jump back like they do in the films, that I can almost touch it...But I get stuck. I get stuck right at the point where I need to bend my elbows and shoot the legs back. I'm even hovering there arms straight, knees pulled in to chest, feet off the floor and Vijay's shouting 'bend your elbows! bend your elbows!' and I'm just there stuck mid-air willing my elbows to bend but for some reason the message from the brain is not getting to the arms...some kind of short circuit. 

The fact is I've not been bending my elbows for so long that it's a habit that is going to be hard to break. What I need to do is it in lolasana and practice bending my elbows so at some point along the line, like at about the 61st time of bending them, the new pattern will begin to ingrain itself into my muscle memory. Basically if something isn't working in your practice, preventing you from doing something, something needs to change. It may even be the smallest thing, like moving your foot 1 centimetre to the left. Mind you, it's easy to say all this, it's harder to do it. 

"Quality is not static, its dynamic. And when you really understand dynamic reality you never get stuck. It has its forms but the forms are capable of change."

Quality is something you can develop, it's not just intuition, not just an unexplainable 'skill' or 'talent'. It's the direct result of contact with the basic reality, which dualistic reason has tended to conceal. You can gain quality by simply practicing...enthusiastically!

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