My teacher said "Put your mind in your thigh," as he was explaining to the beginners about engaging the quadriceps when locking the knee. I'd never heard it explained this way before. He said, "Your natural tendency will be to contract and relax, contract and relax that muscle over and over, because that's what your thigh does when you're walking--contract, relax, contract, relax. You've got to keep your mind on engaging the muscle, focus on contraction and don't let go. Put your mind in your thigh." Isn't it great when a few sentences from a teacher make you see something in a new way?
Today, as I was setting up for class, putting my mat down, another student crawled over and whispered, "So, you've been coming to class every day?" She asked, "Does it ever get easier?"
I think she was a little disappointed in my answer: "In some ways, it's easier, and in some ways it gets harder."
While I still struggle with many physical aspects of my practice, I am stronger, have more stamina, and increased flexibility. The physical part is easier, but an extra-hot or humid studio, or variations in my food and water intake, or a lack 0f sleep can sometimes leave me feeling physically drained. For the most part, practice has gotten 'easier,' physically.
But the more I see progress in asana form, the more I want to 'perfect' each asana. I want to fully believe that "perfect' form is relative to me, my body, my practice--that 'perfect' is just me doing my best. My ego keeps saying that 'perfect' is doing bow like So-and-So, or having the posture just be second nature to me, effortless. Once my ego has the floor, judgment--of my postures, of my body, of myself--overrules acceptance. Judgment really messes with my practice, messes with my mind.
More and more, I am aware of the parts of my mind that are distracted or discouraged. It's not always that I can't, say, get my upper body lower in standing bow or balancing stick, it's that my mind is not focused, my courage and determination are not rising to the occasion. Sometimes, I am just not believing in myself. It's like a cartoon where a character is flying, then realizes, "Wait, I can't fly," and suddenly plummets to the ground. Bikram always says that you can do more than you think you can. I'm finally really experiencing some realization of that.
The act of dragging myself to the studio every day has been a very simple exercise in courage and determination. It's my starting point, really, just getting to class every day. Can I take this one step further and really follow through with bringing courage, determination, focus to each posture?
Go Back and Look Again
2 years ago