So- I slept in today to rest since I am fighting a bit of an infection (With the help of antibiotics, thank God!) which is why I was MIA in Focus on Form yesterday, unfortunately. I rested for the day and taught at Breath and Body and Bodhi in the evening. Rest was great, classes were great. I worked with the theme about presence being a physical thing as well as a metaphysical thing.
I got onto this theme because Cynthia gave me a copy of this great poem by e.e. cummings. I knew the poem and played her a Michael Hedges song version of it that I have loved for many years. Here is the poem:
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
There is a teaching in Anusara Yoga about the support of the community and how the community can provide a mechanism of support for us even when we are not in the physical company of one another. We can, in our physical absence, carry one another in our hearts. But the flip side to that, or the yogic fine print, it seems, is that in order to access the support of the community when we are absent we must also be committed to being present physically so that we can learn to be in sync with one another or with the energetic field or matrix that we create together.
My point is that if you are never around physically, the metaphysical aspect will tend to be closed to you. But if you think you are only supported when you are physically present, then you are missing out on something quite important. So as always, it is both and it depends.
The thing is that we do yoga for ourselves. It helps us grow stronger, more flexible, more resilient, more balanced, more centered, more creative. But the cool thing is that we drag ourselves to class sometimes with these personal benefits in mind and sometimes we fail to see that our being physically present provides a support for everyone else. Our presence really matters. Because two or more or gathered, so to speak, we have a class, the seeds of a community and a network from which to draw strength and support and from which to nourish our heart's longing. We feed and we get fed.
And when we are anchored in such a give and take and the days go by when life's demands do not allow for us to attend physically, we can still tap into the energy that is present in the group. We can still know that people are practicing for us and for one another and we can still affirm that we are part of something profound, meaningful and enriching.
Years ago at Prescott Yoga one of the students in the morning class was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through rigorous chemo and radiation and after about 9 months of absence from class, she came back. I had though it would be impossible for her to re-join her original class after so much time away and after such an illness. But it was not the case. The class had contributed to a flower fund so that every week she was delivered a rose from our class that she got to see every day, we sent regular cards, she came in to check in and visit occasionally. IN short, she stayed connected to the community in her physical absence and when she came back, her asana was hardly changed. On one level, I know this was because she hadn't really stopped coming. She was there in her mind and heart.
The truth is we cannot always roll out a mat and we cannot always come to a class, a practice or a workshop. But we can endeavor to practice inside, in the chamber of our hearts so that our absence is only physical. We can take a vacation but not a vacation from practice even if we do no asana. Something to think about. And of course, remember when you can come, do because your presence makes a difference. Like that.