I felt that my obvious lack of presence in making coffee yesterday morning was a great preparation fot this post. On-the-mat, wondering presence can be more subtle and bringing attention to it a rewarding practice. I recently “caught” myself being not present in a very subtle way during a sequence of back-bends – and I thought to share it as a real-life example instead of writing some theoretical post about the subject.
Though it’s not my practice sequence – this is what a typical back-bending sequence may look like. It is a vinyasa (gradual progression) of back-bend variations (note to myself: do a post on the subtle aspects of back-bends!).
I teach and practice such sequences with a rest between each variation. A resting position would be legs and arms in a relaxed position and the head resting on the floor, turned sideways to one side (alternating the position of the head in each rest – to keep an overall centered exprience).
When I am present in the practice, I complete a variation and simply lay my head to one side. When I am not totally present in the practice I start thinking about the resting position before I finish the last round of movement. As I a moving back down towards the floor I am thinking about what the position of my head should be. If it’s the first asana in the sequence I may find myself debating on which side I should place my head in the first rest (keeping in my obsessive mind that this first choice affects the entire sequence) . My mind has left the posture while my body is still in it.
It’s relatively easier to catch mind wondering off when it makes larger fumbles like losing count, forgetting where you are in a sequence, losing balance or just plain shopping around worries and preoccupations of life. Smaller excursions are more subtle and deviant. Catching them is a more subtle practice.
Have you noticed what your mind likes to do when you practice?
Shortly after we moved into this house (~18 months ago) we planted two passion-fruit plants to cover two cement columns that stood on our porch. One of them didn’t take hold – the other has grown quite … passionately. We helped it work it’s way up the column and now it has finally reached the wire that will lead it across to the other column.
Disclosure: I helped it to grab hold of the wire – but it’s been holding on … passionately … ever since 🙂
For a few days now I’ve been carrying around an unwritten post about a subtle aspect of being present in Yoga asana practices. A few minutes ago I was gifted with an amusing incident which gave the post the context I was looking for.
This morning has been peaceful. I have not yet engaged “work” on the computer. It began with a cup of tea and quiet reading, then an asana practice followed by tortilla breakfast with Andreea. I then sat down to review a series of images I took a few days ago. I was happy to find some images I really like.
Excited and content with the images on my screen I left the computer to make a cup of coffee. I prepared the coffe-pot and put a cup with milk to heat in the microwave. 93 seconds later the microwave beeped – I took the cup out and found it’s empty! I laughed outloud and went to show Andreea my “warm cup of milk”. My mind was obviously not present in making coffee – I was with the images and with some thoughts that were moving inside me.
I went back to the kitchen and took out another cup (the first one was hot and I set it aside to cool)… AND AGAIN … I placed it in the microwave without any milk. This time I caught myself before pressing the activate button on the microwave – I guess you can say I was improving 🙂
This is the nature of mind. It’s not something that needs “fixing”, but it does need to be recognized and appreciated.
Stay tuned for a subtle aspect of not being present 🙂
A week ago I went for a short walk in our village with a friend who came to visit us. At the hills just outside the village I was taken by an amazing palette of colors. Most of the vegetation has already dried to yellow but there was a stripe of light green vegetation that hasn’t given up yet. All this was dotted by blue-purple thorny flowers and lit in the warm colors of a setting sun.
I didn’t have a camera with me so I planned to return the next day. But the next few days were surprisingly cloudy and cool and the light I wanted wasn’t there. So I waited. A couple of days ago the weather resumed it’s season-typical hot & blue-sky look and in the evening I went back to get the picture I was carrying around with me in me mind. I found it … and then some.