Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Days 4, 5 and 6: Learning not to panic

photo via sxc.hu / raichinger

"To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path." ~ Pema Chodron

Bikram says it's fine if you can meditate in a pretty, quiet room, perfectly appointed with items designed to aid relaxation (I'm paraphrasing A LOT). What's more challenging, and more worthwhile, is to find a quiet mental space when you're stuck in freeway traffic in Los Angeles (I like to think he's referring to the 405), when it's 90 degrees and your car's AC is broken. If you can meditate there, you can meditate anywhere. If you can learn to meditate upside-down in a hot room, with sweat running up your nose, you can meditate anywhere.

I tried to keep this in mind Monday as sweat was indeed running up my nose during Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose. I'd driven up to Saratoga Springs to take class from a friend whom I hadn't seen in far, far too long. My back was stiff and sore because, well, it's my back, and my body was creaky from the two hours in the car headed to a morning class, where everything is always stiffer.

During class, the "traffic/hot/stuck" metaphor translated to my body. If I can learn to work to the edge of the pain, and find/make peace with my spine where it is at that moment, it's possible to learn to breathe and calm down those pain sensations while walking around in day-to-day life.

(My 30-day challenge update: Saturday, morning home practice; Sunday, morning class at BYY; Monday, morning class at Hot Yoga Saratoga. Five classes in six days is probably the most consistently I've practiced since moving to New York. Yay! I might even be looking forward to doing a double one of these studio Sundays...)


  1. Nice post! I totally feel this one right now.

    I love that quote from Pema Chodron! It kinda goes without saying, 'cause I pretty much love all her stuff. It's all about running toward the pain, isn't it? I love your line about being at its edge.

  2. Um, that quote is AMAZING. Love it. And so perfectly apt when thinking about Bikram yoga and our daily practice of living within and moving beyond whatever pain or discomfort our body throws our way.

    You're powering through your challenge---bravo!!