Trust your devotion... and the importance of a teacher

Practice was challenging this morning. There are some poses that, through the intensity, total enjoyment-will-devotion is experienced. I am such a yes to the fire. The fire feels good! I laugh and smile and my body-breath is one big balloon of dissolving boundary. The feeling is delicious. And then there are poses that go right to a part of my body where the intensity is of a different texture. The fire does not feel good. I can’t locate anything good about it and I have such a hard time hanging out, keeping my meditative awareness, breathing into the extreme, feeling out beyond myself, loving the experience. This morning I got plucked.

Coming Out the Way You Went In

Practice, oh, practice.

And what happened after it this morning. 

It had been a huge practice for me. Huge. Around alignment. Real alignment. True alignment. And what that looks like going in and coming out.

In asana practice we listen to the teacher give us instruction: step foot back, press back through heel, sink hips down, reach heart forward, point tailbone back, breathe in, ground down, breathe out, lengthen, inhale to rise, exhale to open, and so on. We do what we’re told, but what is actually happening? Are we really all in? All of us? Or, using my teacher’s words, are we just dragging our bodies around like dogs on a leash, looping that same sad story around in our heads? Said another way, is the action being directed by the FEELING experience or by the mind’s conceptualization? And to go deeper, WHAT is our feeling awareness even on, and why?

As I come more out of conceptual and more into perceptual, two things are simultaneously happening. On one end, new awareness that feels really good and on the other end, holy shit, this just got more intense. For it’s pushing me once again up against a new edge, and asking me to look at what I’m doing, and not doing. But as Bryce reminded me recently, we don’t go into practice for a hit of Bliss, we go in for the real, deep, truth bearing work.

Union with What Is

This morning’s practice was one of the most physically challenging practices I’ve had to date with my teacher and one of the most—if not the most—devotional practices to date. 

It started to unfold yesterday morning in Zen meditation with Chad when I experienced a profound insight into the depth of my Higher Awareness—Buddhi. That it is far wider and greater than I have been seeing it. Then, a couple of hours later in a beautiful mentoring session with my teacher, Sofia Diaz, among many things discussed related to life, work, and relationship, she revealed that I still haven’t found my tailbone. After 13 years of practice. I nodded in agreement. I know.

Coming to the edge

In practice, we have choices to make when we come to an edge. 

The edge could be fear of coming into an inversion. Could be a stretch that brings about an emotional trigger. Could be a reluctance to plaster all of your lower body radically into the floor for cobra. Could be a long hold in plank that the mind refuses to quiet into. The edge could be anything. 

At first it’s a matter of actually coming to the edge. And noticing how close we allow ourselves to arrive. Then it expands to noticing what we do when we come to that edge. Where does our awareness go? What happens to our breathing? How do we position ourselves? What part of our frontal personality takes over? What stories or emotions arise? How do we love ourselves when we come to an edge? 

When practice is emotional

Practice this morning was totally, completely EMOTIONAL. Consumed with Anger. Disgust. Yuck. Ilk. Contraction. I wanted out at one point, which I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. To physically remove myself from the room. 

But before I proceed, some back story: 

A few weeks ago I got triggered by a student (not the bad guy) who had expressed his attraction towards me (I not in return) and then proceeded (as I experienced it) to pursue me in subtle ways. In an attempt to build friendship and sangha I ignored the discomfort, hoping it would go away. However, the subtle was there. Suddenly, one morning heading into class I couldn’t contain it anymore. It came in like a wave surging over a levee or a fire ripping through a room. Anger consumed my posture, breath, face. I could barely make eye contact. With any men.