‘The one you are looking for is the one who is looking’.
St Francis of Assisi
I’ve been doing a lot of Power Vinyasa. It’s not my go-to but it seems to be the main domain around Melbourne so I’m embracing it. Get me strong. Make me sweat. Work me hard. Rrrrrr. A big part of me loves it but it’s really not my jam. It’s not where I’m at in my home practice. I can’t go deep enough into my tissue and travel my awareness down carefully when we move so quickly. I can’t pause and feel into my experience for long enough. My breath gets ragged as we shift from one pose to another. The sweat is pouring off me and my travel mat is getting all kinds of manky. I’m being pushed. Hard. And I’m not sure that’s what I need.
I want to sit in the seat of the asana and become intimate with the shape. I want to engage down to my bones and be still inside myself. I want to feel into the silence that sits beneath the sounds. That frequency and baseline of presence that calls to me and asks me to hover for just a moment. To hang out there. Take the time to sense into the space and dance inside the continuum.
But that’s a trip that’s only got deeper as I’ve gone deeper. So what would happen if I committed to Power Vinyasa. It’s all an experiment, right? So I’ve gone all in. I’ve found a studio that has incredibly knowledgeable and experienced teachers who weave together a mix of traditional teachings with Anusara, Jivamukti and Power Yoga. Grrrr. Thank you Moksha and your faculty of deep-seated mavens. My head gets food, my heart gets wide and my body is gratefully served by the whole arrangement. The more I practice and trust and dive into this style that I don’t think I ‘want’, the more focused I become, the stronger I get and the stiller I can be inside the poses.
Now, that’s not news but we can get so caught up in our preferences and identifications that other ideas can be cast aside without giving them a proper chance. I’m pretty guilty of this in my life so it’s a daily practice for me to remember that I don’t know everything. Pete holds that mirror up more times than I care for and I’ve learnt that I’m afraid to not know the answers. I’m afraid to ask questions and I’m often jumping in when I could be listening. But this is why I love stillness. So I can see reality more clearly and catch myself in the thicket of my conditioning.
Whether it’s through meditation, two hours of sweating and flowing, two hours of deep, slow and juicy tissue travel or watching myself interacting with the world. I’m getting still. And through that practice I come to connect with my fundamental nature. Yoga means to yoke or connect but it also means a ‘method’ of accomplishing something and it also means ‘endeavor, diligence, care and attention’. So, as Hareesh explains in The Sutra Project, yoga is “a method of becoming firmly connected to one’s true nature. A method that must be pursued with diligence and careful attention.”
This coming back to stillness is a coming back to my Self. To my true nature so I can experience reality more directly. Whether I like it or not. It is, Hareesh’s translation, “to see reality directly. Not through the mind filter of your conditioned thought”. And what a relief that is. What a liberation. To be gently untangled from conditioned thought and to observe. To see myself and others more clearly by resting back into my true nature and witnessing reality as it comes. Not how I think it is or want it to be. Trusting in the power of the practices to reveal that reality and draw me back into stillness. Again and again and again. In each moment, a new invitation. To step back into the state of yoga.
Photo credit to Sonia Guzzo.