I just returned from Spain where I was studying with Carrie Owerko. It was an incredible time, partially because her presence and capacity are so energetic and powerful, and partially because this really marked the first time that I felt myself to be "back in" my practice since my daughter was born. It was a gift to be able to take the seat of student again, to fully immerse myself in the felt sense of my own body, and to do all of this in the stunning city of Girona.
There is so much I could write about after this weekend, but one of the many gifts my new baby has bestowed on me is to appreciate the much smaller increments of time I now have for most things and to work deeply with BREVITY. So without further ado, this week's theme...
I am thinking deeply of what it is to hold something close and near to the heart without grasping or clinging to whatever that may be. I think of this as I consider all the ways I must let my daughter go over the weeks and months and years to come; from the day she no longer wants to be nourished from my own body's creation to the moment she packs up her things and moves out on her own... and all of the spaces between these two points in time, and then also beyond them.
I am thinking of what it is to hold an opinion or an ideal without clinging to an outcome or the possibility that we may sway even one person to consider our own side. I think of this as the U.S. wades through yet another immensely tragic shooting massacre, this time a gay night club in Orlando.
The Bhagavad Gita discusses action without attachment to the fruits of that action. The Yoga Sutras discuss abhyasa and vairagya, practice and non-attachment. The Buddhist literature takes this idea to the next level with the Heart Sutra's dive into the river of interbeing: nothing exists by itself in a vacuum and therefore all of the things we try to hold onto as singular (our opinions, our bodies, our relationships) are impossible to grasp because in some sense, they do not exist - at least not in the very simplified and solid way in which we tend to view them.
This concept of holding without grasping is perhaps one of THE HARDEST pieces of spiritual work, and, let's be honest, of being human. We want so much to hold onto the things that matter to us, and yet we simply cannot. Our children will grow up and move out. Our world will not always look the way we hope for it to. There will inevitably be people who hold the opposite opinion of our own, and those people will take actions that go against everything we believe in. One day we will grow old, perhaps we will become sick, and we all will die. Let me repeat, we all, each one of us, will die.
I say these things not to bring you down, but as a reminder of the preciousness of our time and the fleeting and transient nature of all phenomena. As we move into this week and approach our work on the cushion or mat, let us contemplate how we might use practice as a platform for grasping... or as a platform for loosening our many grips. We can start with asana - where do our ideals get in the way of our process, where do we get competitive? Where can we soften and become more receptive instead of pushing and going "harder"?
Sometimes if we start with the easier work, like witnessing where we get stuck in physical practice, the really HARD work gets some illumination as well. May we work toward more peace and non-violence in this world without clinging with white knuckles to any immediate outcome. In this way, perhaps we can stay easeful in our hearts as we continue to fight the peaceful warrior's fight.
My thoughts and deepest prayers go out to those affected by the violence in Orlando.
Peace and Love,