Observing and Acceptance in Asana Practice
We’ve been talking about the word acceptance. Let’s give ourselves a good example.
Take your clothes off and stand in front of a full length mirror. And look at yourself. Look at your body. Look at all of your body. If you have the space, take a step back and take it all in.
Now, what happens inside of your mind? There is usually a cacophony of emotional noise and mental projections at this point.
If I suggest that you accept your body exactly as it is, what is your response?
‘You’ve got to be kidding? I could accept my body when I was 15, but now?’
‘Well, I can accept my ankles, but definitely not the top of my arms?’
That’s why we start with observation. Once we can observe and get some distance from the fire and ice spewing from our mind and the dizzying range of emotions, then we can begin the movement into acceptance.
We stand in Mountain Pose. We move into Triangle Pose. We’ve grounded the feet, strengthened the knees, lengthened the spine, turned the chin and stretched through the arms. Our eyes, jaw and the back of our head are soft. And we engage our breath. And all the while, all through the movement into the pose, and while we are standing in the pose, we are observing the body, the mind’s attitude, the voices, positive or negative, we are listening to the body’s response to the movement. We are feeling the emotions arise. The joy, the pain, the freedom, the tension. And we observe without comment.
When you have been able to observe yourself, and you notice the mind’s resistance. You begin to feel deep criticism come up, or deep apathy, then we move into acceptance. But wait for the voice to come up telling you it has to be different from what it is, that you are not good enough, that its not ‘right’, that you are never going to be perfect. We just accept this voice, and allow all that is within to exist, with no limitations.
And you can do that. And breathe. And re soften the body. Relearn the asanas you thought you knew so well. Observation and acceptance.
When I talk of acceptance, many people say ‘but I can not accept poverty in the world. I can not. And I can not accept acts of terrorism.’
To begin with, when I say ‘accept’, I do not mean accept and do nothing. I just mean see that these things are in existence. Open our eyes to what is. The mind says ‘I can not and do not want to talk about ‘that’. I can’t. It’s too painful.’ And so begins a small barrier of protection. Protection from humanity’s own doing. The mind can not accept. Then begins a few little lies, and a few little exceptions, and suddenly we find we have quite a few things that are ‘taboo’ subjects, or subjects that make us mad, or topics that we can not stomach and then – we become helpless and a victim.
Just when the difficult things come up, we become a victim to our emotions and our limitations and we become ineffectual and say ‘that is for someone else to deal with, someone who is stronger than me. I am not cut out for such things.’
Our inability to view the world, and see what is going on, helps perpetuate the very problems we can not stomach. We use the ‘one-who-can-not-be-named’ system to deal with our fears. Do you really think, that by ignoring sex crimes, by not talking about it, or by not giving it a name that it will just go away, or stop existing? Or the pain you keep suppressing in your body? Do you think if you take enough pain killers, it will eventually just go away and you will not have to face what the pain is teaching you?
Ok – so, slowly, slowly, we look behind the curtains the mind has drawn. We don’t want to shock or scare ourselves stupid. We just want to sit and contain what is.
And from this deep acceptance of what the world is, with no judgement for or against, we will make decisions about what to do. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a disciplined mind is a cold hearted mind. A disciplined mind, full of awareness, is like a laser light upon problems. There is deep awareness, deep understanding and great compassion for our being human.
Part One of the Workshop
Part Two of the Workshop
Part Three of the Workshop
Part Four of the Workshop
Part Five of the Workshop