Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tummy Troubles = Insight
It is said the World is our teacher, so I guess illness - or in my case, a tweaky tummy - is like a private tutor. For the past week or so both Cowgirl and I have had mildly annoying discomforts in the belly region and while there are lots of "bugs" going around, I have to suspect in my case there is something more afoot. Certainly anxiety and stress at work is not helping me but for goodness sakes, I'm a yoga teacher! So I ought to know how to let it all wash over me, right?
This morning while walking the dog I had time to ponder my situation as my empty tummy was reminding me to pay attention. The sensation was of my innards like a fist tightly gripping onto something. I was reminded of the sensation when I first lie down in savasana or relaxation pose; I have to conscious tell my body to relax, let go, and surrender. Surrender what? Besides the usual baggage of feelings, wounds, worries and doubts there is also this sense of me holding tightly onto this concept of, well, Me. All the stuff that constitutes who I believe myself to be in this moment - my history, my successes, my failures, my wounds and my beliefs and attitudes - all this ME MINE MY that is pastiched together into a kind of Surrealist collage entitled "I." I realized, as my stomach gave me another loving squeeze, that as I move through my life with this tightly held concept of myself, this clinging to Me-ness is preventing me from opening to something new, something fresh, something more genuine and true.
Okay, okay, I am getting lofty here but let me give you more concrete details. I've been feeling a bit bogged down emotionally and realized I need to work on my perspective a bit. As crazy as this sounds, with my life filling up with activities, new projects and classes, I decided I needed to sign up for another ecourse. I had been contemplating the Creative Goddess Course even though the cynical, East Coaster in me was rolling my eyes and snapping my gum over all the gushing cheerfulness oozing from every image, word, and video posting on the site. It just seemed a tad too happy for me. And when I caught myself thinking that way, I realized that is exactly what I need right now: a happy, cheerful, positive, cup-not-half-but-completely-full attitude and I had better get my butt into that course pronto!
So the course started this week and I am loving every moment of it. One component of the course is a weekly meditation/guided relaxation. I did the first one yesterday and I don't want to give anything away, but during the practice I had this beautifully liberating experience of my heart filling up with joy and just blasting away all the petty thoughts and doubts that have been roosting in my head. The gripping sensation was gone and I was flooded with this energy from the outside in.
Spiraling back to my morning walk, as I thought about my holding myself so tightly and then that sensation of being open and receptive, I was reminded of an image used by one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Eknath Easwaran. He writes about how monkeys were caught in his native India by using a jar with a piece of fruit inside. The monkey would reach inside and grab the fruit but then grasping the fruit, he would be unable to remove his hand, and so he would sit there, stuck. In a very visceral way, I experienced my stuckedness in terms of my ego or self clinging to this static notion of who I am and what I am capable of doing. The experience of joy flooding in reminded me there is another way to be and clinging, grabbing, seeking so damned hard, is not it.
And as things always go in these kinds of matters, I was heading off to bed and realizing I finished my book last night, I grabbed another book that has been lying around. You know the book: the one you bought years ago because it promised to be exactly what you need to know at that time; but then you start it, and it is good, but the words just don't connect with your understanding and so it sits unfinished. Until that day you absentmindedly grab it and this time marvel "how could I not have read this before?!"
So I open up my book on the Yoga Sutras and am only at the third sutra in the first book. This is the sutra after the one that provides the definition of Yoga. Traditionally the third sutra reads: Then the seer abides in his own nature." Once you are in yoga, then you experience your true self, which no one really describes; it is up to us to experience that state. So imagine the thrill of reading "United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature - joy."
Back to joy. And go figure I have bought as gifts 2 necklaces stamped with the word joy. So the mission that I am accepting is to let go of trying so hard to be, find,grab onto or create anything and instead open myself to what is swirling all around me and is indeed my spiritual birthright: joy. I don't have to do anything, because it is already and always has been there. But I do need to open myself up and live in this truth. Because I truly do believe we are divine beings having a human existence and this ride is a gift to savor, not simple move through. But that's another topic.
Now I am off to play in some art. To let art arise rather than making something. Like Michelangelo, I want the process to be about freeing the image from the materials. Not that I am comparing myself to Michelangelo, but I am returning to that model of the artist as divinely inspired and not a tortured soul. I'm saying, the torture is optional. I'm choosing Joy.