“You’re in a terrible spot. It’s too late for you to retreat but too soon to act. All you can do is witness. You’re in the miserable position of an infant who cannot return to the mother’s womb, but neither can he run around and act. All an infant can do is witness and listen to the stupendous tales of action being told to him. You are at that precise point now. You cannot go back to the womb of your old world, but you cannot act with power either. For you there is only witnessing acts of power and listening to tales of power.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Recent Pranayama: Refinement, Chaos & Sound

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I’m fairly settled in a very regular practice sequence. I get around 08:00, much later then I used to – maybe it’s because of the winter light (or lack of it). I read a little and drink some water and then sit down for a practice that includes Pranayama practice and meditation. I still do not have a regular asana practice – that seems to come and go – I practice for a week or two and then I don’t for another week or two. Though our apartment is comforting, it still does not feel like a home … and the yoga/practice room is the coldest room in the house – so it too is not particularly inviting … so … anyways …

During the last 10-14 days something has happened to my Pranayama practice.

Refinement

At first there was a sudden refinement – it happened suddenly, one morning. My breathing became very refined, smooth and steady. Transitions were precise and gentle. BK (holds after the breath) were open and spacious – I was able to contain them with ease. There was also a fairly equal flow in both nostrils – a rare experience for me. My presence was delicious – peaceful steadiness.

This lasted for 2 or 3 days. Then came chaos.

Chaos

Ever since those refined days I have been having a very mixed experience. On one hand most of the refinement has stayed with me, on the other hand the edges are coarse and unsetady. There isn’t something specific I can point out – and to be fair with myself, it’s still a good practice. The transitions are not as smooth. The krama part of the practice though still nicely contained can demand more attention. The flow in my left nostril is again lesser then the flow in my right nostril.

I am also experiencing more resistance to practice. Part of my practice is now standing at the window for a few, sometimes long, minutes, staring outside, watching the dog pace from side to side on his chain … until there is an invitation to practice.

Generally, compared to the refined days, it feels like a mess.

Sound

Sound is a new gift that appeared in my consciousness during the refined days and has stayed with me since – including the chaotic days. The sounds begins in the first breaths of practice and stays present throughout the pranayama and meditation practice.

The sound has two layers. One layer is external – it is a high-pitched steady sound – I am surprised time and again that it doesn’t agitate me – as it is kind of like a kettle whistle – only higher and continuous.

A second layer is internal – it is a low-pitch sound that oscillates – like an engine only without a mechanical quality – a kind of sound I would imagine is heard in a nuclear plant (not that I’ve ever heard one). It is an addictive sound – the sound of me. This internal layer has been my dominant bhavana (focus) in meditation.

When I practice asana the rumbling is louder and takes center stage, leaving the higher-pitched sound as a background noise.

I feel something has shifted and that it will soon be time to change my Pranayama practice. I am looking forward to hearing my teachers.

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