Tuesday, May 26, 2009

currents of grace

Well, I unplugged for the weekend for some much needed R&R.

Kelly and I went down to San Marcos and worked some on our house there to get it ready to rent and spent a lot of time playing in our kayaks on the river which was awesome. Right before I left I had an appointment with Craig to discuss some health symptoms I was having and he looked at me and told me "build kapha" meaning, "restore yourself, rest and replenish" and made it a point to tel me to do it now before the heat of the summer kicks in or I will be in bad shape in a few months. So I rested a lot this weekend, stayed in the water, took my new herbs and ate a lot. (whole milk, ghee, that kind of thing.) I even took a nap! Building kapha is not so bad, I guess. He and I also talked a lot about how important it is, if you are sweating a lot- which I have been these last two months- not just to drink water but to replace the fluids with electrolytes of some kind- like coconut juice. Or what happens is you start washing away your minerals, etc. and muscle recovery is hindered, which is what I was experiencing. Once again, it is not just the heat that is the issue as much as it is how we cope with it that is the important thing.

So- a change of scenery was really great for me. I had so much fun playing on the water and hanging out down in San Marcos again. Of course, I came home with a huge list of things I have to do but well, most of it is fun stuff or will result in fun stuff so not too big of a deal really. I was actually struck by how much kayaking is like yoga. I mean the thing with playboating as opposed to kayaking a river on a trip, is that there really is no reason to do it other than it is fun. I mean there you are on a river in a perfectly good boat and you just turn yourself around in the current, head into a wave and try to surf and spin and do some tricks. Truly, no good reason other than to have fun. To play. To take delight in the experience. In Anusara Yoga philosophy we call that the Ananda Principle. (Why does Shiva dance? No good reason other than for the fun of it.)

Now here is a cool thing thought- it is not fun to surf a wave if you have no boat control, if you have no skills. If you do not know how to roll, for instance, and your boat gets tipped upside down then you are not only not having fun but you are in a potentially life-threatening situation. And learning to roll takes a fair amount of time. And it is frustrating and boring and repetitive and while you are learning it, there is usually not a lot of this "Ananda Principle" going on. But there is a thrill that happens- a true experience of empowerment- when you learn how to do this roll. When, after practicing in what feels like vacuum for hours and hours- ALL OF A SUDDEN you can right yourself in the water. Practice is like that, isn't it? "All of a sudden" after weeks, months or years of trying...you can do something in one moment that in the last moment you could not do. And then the doors to the sport open.

And it is a black or white thing in a way. You can either get up or not. Sure some rolls are sloppy but if they get you up it counts and it will save your life in the current. You may be sincere, you may be trying hard, you may really want to do it but if the roll does not get you up, none of that matters. It is very objective in that way.

Another thing about learning to roll is that it is counter intuitive. You have to get your body to act against what its instincts are in order to get up. You cannot jerk your head up, which is the tendency because, let's face it, you are underwater and you cannot breathe. So also you have to talk yourself into a calm state when you are upside down moving in a current when the tendency might actually be to panic.

And very few people figure it out alone. You have to have a teacher. And you have to practice like I mentioned before. And you learn in still water and that is one thing. Then you have to be in action and do it when it really counts. Like that. I could go on and on because there are also paddling skills and so on into infinity so that you can actually play and not drown.

It is really just like yoga. I personally love, love, love to practice flow yoga and to move and play and seamlessly transition between poses in ever increasing challenges and exotic combinations. I love to play. But just like kayaling, I also know how important it is to do skills training. And also, like in kayaking, once you have your roll, you do not go to "how to roll classes" anymore. So I think making students watch the same demos every week is missing the point as much as never teaching skills and telling them "do what feels right." But I digress.

My point is that to take the metaphor off the river or off the mat-- to really enjoy life takes some skills. We have to have discernment, discipline, focus and humor to simply enjoy what life offers us. We have to educate ourselves in what is good for us, in what will harm us and in the skills necessary to navigate the waters in which we may find ourselves. You cannot just put yourself in a kayak and in the water and "playboat". You cannot just put yourself down on a yoga mat and expect to do yoga well and without injury. You have to get training. You have to practice. And in order to be able to participate fully in kayaking, in yoga and in life we have to have some kind of quiet inside as well. Some refuge and that may or may not come naturally. And the traditions tell us that while it is our most Natural State it will not arise without some effort.

So I could go on because there are more parallels- there are different rating for rivers. Some are actually harder than others. Some rivers really require more skill than other rivers. (Just like some poses or some classes) There is "taking a trip" as opposed to playboating, there is the need to "eddy out" to scope a rapid and plan a wise approach to a challenging circumstance.

More on all this later. But wow- the Kularnava Tantra describes Grace as a flow, as a current so being on the water is really a great place to contemplate this. Love it.

1 comment:

Olga Rasmussen said...

As someone who kayaks (more as a meditative practice) and likes to use the insights that come from paddling as class themes and comments - I loved this entry! I also enjoy reading the connections between life and Anusara that other teachers make!

Oh - and my middle aged eyes like the font adjustment too!