|Whew! Made it through the precepts (barely). Seems like a good time to take a break from scripture, stand up, move around a bit, stretch.|
You'd think that someone who finds it difficult to sit still and focus for 20 minutes of zen meditation would do a bit better at yoga. Yoga is like meditation with treats: every new pose is like a bright, shiny object that provides a few moments of entertainment for the restless mind — a brief respite from the impatience and boredom of being stuck motionless on a cushion, alone with one's own tediously repetetive thoughts. Hooray, warrior pose! Downward-facing dog — yippee!
Except . . .
I hate yoga. Or rather, I hate yoga instruction. I freak out when I hear things like "draw the energy inward from the heart center" or "let the movement come from your intention, not from your muscles." I can't bear that kind of metaphorical, mystifying baby-talk. It's one thing to say, "Lift the crown of your head as if there were a string connecting it to the ceiling." That is a simile; the "as if" makes it perfectly OK. But "send the breath out through the fingers and toes"? No. I have no lungs or trachea in my limbs. I have muscles I can wiggle and stretch, or — if that's too darn Western and literal — I can visualize wiggling and stretching. (Disclosure: I also hate modern dance and poetry, so I'm probably some kind of spiritual cripple, but I'm sticking by my guns here: energy comes from ATP and glucose, not the suggestion of light radiating out from a serpent coiled in my belly.)
So. I am apparently a bad Buddhist and an even worse yogini. Still, I guess I'm just good enough at both to recognize that my resistance is itself a lesson, if I pay attention to it. Why do I become so enraged by the efforts of instructors who have worked hard to master a skill and who are trying their best to teach well? I felt a similar intolerance throughout my years as a graduate student in a creative writing program. Every time I heard someone say "write into that" or "write around that" or talk about any kind of "mapping" or "exploding" of "moments," I would practically choke on my own disgust and self-loathing — was I really idiot enough to sit through this shit, semester after semester? Did I keep coming back because I was willing to be open to learning something, or was I just a revolting coward who couldn't cut the academic umbilical cord? I found myself growing brittle, bitter and resentful of every minute I spent in that program — when really I should have just enjoyed the privilege of being a person whose "job" was to write and think about writing pretty much all the time. Poor, poor me! No wonder I was so pissed off!
My resentment in class arose from my anxiety that time was being spent and wasted: that I was running out of time. My impatience in yoga arises from my anxiety that the teacher is talking nonsense, which is wasting my exercise time, of which I only have so much: again, I am running out of time. If I sit with this awareness, I realize that I live in a state of constant panic: because I am, as we all are, running out of time.
I flatten this panic in order to get through the day without being a raging, screaming, sobbing wreck. I distract myself with obsessions that tend toward the perfectionistic and rabidly critical, like my students' bewilderment regarding the concept of end punctuation (what the fuck is so fucking hard about end-fucking-punctuation? Jesus! Period, question mark, exclamation point, ellipsis, long dash! It's not fucking calculus, for Christ's sake! Are these college students or third-graders?) or my Mormon sister's hypocritical failure to train her kids to send thank-you notes (so family is really important, huh? Aren't I family? Just because I'm not a Christian, my birthday checks don't merit a simple acknowledgment? Nice values there. How about another Coke?). I futz around endlessly with my calendar, meticulously planning when I'll write and when I'll grade and when I'll read blogs and when I'll get groceries and when I'll clean the house and when I'll practice drumming and when I'll go to Pilates (not yoga) and when I'll generally get my shit together — and then I don't do any of it because the constant, underlying, crushing sense of time running out just makes me go fetal.
Meanwhile, time really is running out.
It really is.
|Whoa — what the hell happened here? Yoga carnage as far as the third eye can see. . .|
That's right: DECIDING THE FATE OF THE WORLD! And you thought it was merely about getting a yoga-butt. Ha.
OMG, this is too beautiful.