The word of the day is "War."
All too often I am waging war with my practice. My body is a weapon when it should be an offering of peace. I use the tools of my strength, flexibility, and determination to get myself into the shapes of these poses. I need to be offering them up with open hands and heart. I'm learning to find the distinction between peace and surrender. They are different. I want to work hard to create something beautiful with my practice. Something meaningful. Something changing. My practice of hatha yoga has never been linear, though I may have wished to see it that way. It has always been, whether I was aware of it or not, dynamic. Much more interrupted and indirect that I'd probably like to admit.
I've been reading Christina Sell's book "Yoga from the Inside Out." It's been on my list for a while and I've only now managed to make the time to read it. I wish I'd read it sooner. It's full of gold. Some things that I've had to learn the hard way, but I suppose it's better that way isn't it. Learning the hard way always seems to mean the lesson sticks a little better than when someone else hands it to you. Here's what she has to say about waging war and creating peace:
"...one can certainly practice yoga in a way that is inattentive, and this lack of attention can be neglectful or even violent. To practice with intention would yield quite a different scenario: You carefully roll out your mat acknowledge that this is a time of spiritual practice - a tie for honour your body and your self. You report your injuries and limitation to your teacher and work carefully throughout the practice. When asked to use the mirror to assess your form, you look objectively at the alignment of your structure and look with kindness on your body, reminded yourself that you are find exactly as you are. Looking at your feet you clearly observe their placement and the action of the arches. When you feel pain, you look into it. You as yourself if it is joint pain, muscular teaching or just intense sensation? Can you still breathe fully even in the intensity? If not, you look for a new alignment or modification. If you can still breathe, you assess your psychological state, asking yourself if it would be okay to stay in the intensity or be better tin that moment to release the pose? With each inhalation you practice expanding the heart and with each exhalation you offer out your prayers and gifts. You allow the poses to shine with heartfelt qualities of the spirit, and you remind yourself that you are doing great!
We must learn the intricacies of the ways we sabotage our own efforts. Setting the intention for hatha yoga to be a practice of peace means making an ongoing commitment to such self-observation." - Christina Sell
And so I am reminded of the teachings of yoga; they would ask us to make these observations without judgement. To observe. To notice. But not to judge. I continue to contemplate what it means to make a commitment to this type of self-observati0n and offering of peace.