In my memory there is an inspiring description of crying. I do not recall where this came from, if I read it somewhere or if someone told it to me. When there is an intensity inside that we cannot contain – it overflows and manifests as tears. It is an experience of something that cannot be contained.
I have been granted knowledge of an intimate relationship with a soul that is in the process of leaving a body and returning to a new one. Over recent weeks every time I play Shakuhachi, a recurring melody appears and connects me to this soul. When this happens tears flow, every time. I play to communicate with this soul. I play so that this soul becomes familiar with the sounds. I play so that this soul can find a way through the transition it is facing. I play so that this soul can find a familiar comfort when we meet again.
It is a divine experience. There is no sadness, and no happiness. There is peace and a sense of wholeness and purpose.
As a Yoga practitioner I have experienced being both student & teacher. As a student I have learned that it takes years of persistent practice to assimilate, realize & appreciate teachings. I have heard my teachers repeat ideas over and over, many times over the years, and I am still in awe every time my experience catches up with their teachings. Ideas can float in my mind indefinitely with very little substance – and then, after years of practice, there is some crystallization and the ideas gain body.
As a teacher I am blessed to be in situations where I resonate in the presence of a student and then make a choice and offer a teaching. It is humbling to realize that what I offer as a teaching in the present will take years of patience and movement to manifest. I am reminded again and again that teaching is sowing seeds. It is then in the hands of the student to nurture those seeds and create the conditions for them to grow and bloom.
As a Shakuhachi player I am again a student. Yet, due to the nature of the Shakuhachi and it’s place in my life, it is not just an instrument I am learning to play, but also a spiritual practice. So, musically I am a complete beginner – I meet myself every time I try to get & hold a note in Kan (the second register on the Shakuhachi). But “myself” that I meet already has some experience as a spiritual practitioner. I am less prone to confusion, frustration and over-exertion.
I know that my Shakuhachi teacher has sown seeds within me. I still have expectations to enjoy the fruits of my practice every time I play, but when those expectations are not met – I do not experience disappointment. I step back from the practice, create a new empty space and then step back in to practice some more… again and again… day after day. A part of me is looking forward to experiencing fruition of my Shakuhachi training – both for the sounds and the silence.
The name Dvipadapitham literally means “two foot support”. It is a fairly involved asana because almost all parts of the body are involved in some kind of movement. The starting point for the posture is lying on the back with the arms alongside the body, the legs bent at the knees and the feet on the floor. As you inhale you simultaneously raise the arms and the hips (by pushing down on the feet), as you exhale you bring everything back – the arms return to the floor alongside the body and the hips are placed back down on the floor.
This posture introduces an interesting challenge when it comes to coordination of breath and movement – since there are two movements happening at the same time. One movement is the arms – they have a fairly long journey to make. Another movement is the hips which have a relatively short journey. It takes caring attention to coordinate these two movements. The arms and hips need to begin moving together and reach the end of their path together – this means that the arms are moving much faster then the hips. The two coordinated movements need to be aligned with the breath … and over time refined … over … and over … and over…
You may find that there may be a natural tendency to compress the neck due to incorrect effort and the dynamics of the movement – this can be prevented by (1) placing the neck in a correct (chin tucked in) position when you start practicing; (2) remaining attentive to it throughout the practice; (3) checking yourself every time you come back down to the floor (making sure the chin is still tucked in and not rolled back).
This is also a great posture for practicing correct placement of the arms every time they reach the floor above the head. You may even experience more reach in the arms – due to the opening and raising of the chest.
The feet should be placed apart from each other – at a distance that is approximately the width of your hips (if you have narrow hips they should be closer together, if you have wide hips they should be further apart). Your feet are your base in this posture – so they should be firmly rooted both in the starting position and as you practice.
Try to avoid placing your feet too far apart, too close together , or, when in the correct position from letting your knees fall open to the sides.
Also try to avoid having your feet too far or too close to your body – a middle-ground is usually a good place to start. You may try a few variations until you discover a placement that gives you good support and good mobility.