The day before yesterday we left very early in the morning to a day filled with traveling and unknowns. I didn’t practice that morning and I didn’t practice yesterday morning because I was too unsettled to enjoy a meaningful practice. Today was a “resuming practice” day.
On such days my nasal passages are usually at least a bit more congested then usual (there are rare days where the congestion is too much to practice anything other then basic ujjayi breathing) and as a result the breath doesn’t flow as consistently and smoothly as I know it can. My breathing capacity is usually full despite my congestion – which means I can still do my entire practice, I just need to be more attentive and patient with the breath.
Here is where things get tricky. A “rough” breath usually coincides with a “rough” mind – a mind that is usually dancing around and is short on patience. On these “resuming practice” days my Pranayama practices are more about mind then about breath.
Today I noticed another subtle trick my mind has been playing with for some time. I’ve been witnessing it for many years but today, for the first time, I saw through to what was happening – a kind of thing my teacher calls an “escape”. I find myself trying to momentarily push out or pull in a stronger flow of air in an attempt to clear congestion. Somewhere in my consciousness there is a desire to go back to a quality of breath that I know I am capable of – and that translates into an action in the form of a forceful breath – and sometimes it works. But this is a mind in denial.
The present situation is a familiar experience of congestion. It is a congestion of both the breath and the mind. A “flowing” practice in this state is therefore one that includes and accommodates this congestion – it is a bumpy flow. It isn’t the same kind of smooth “flowing” experience that comes after a few continuous days of peaceful living and practice – it can’t be. When my mind pushes the breath to “overcome” my congestion it is actually in denial of the present congested state – it is creating more turbulence in the practice by clinging to a false hope that a little bit of pushing will bring the practice back to familiar grounds.
Even after I noticed this pattern it continued to manifest in my practice. It is a habit I have picked up over the years. It is something I am going to pay more attention to in future practices. I would like to form a more present habit where my mind accepts the congestion and works with it instead of against it. I have faith that I will find my way back to a better and smoother practice. I need to convey that faith softly to my mind so that it too can be patient and present with me.