We Are All Movers of Obstacles

Meditation does not guarantee peace. It is very much the job of the mind to encroach upon our precious moments and deposit obligations, regrets, great plans, and worry any moment there is a chance of quiet or calm, and our consciousness often acquiesces to these distractions because they are so incredibly strong and very important to us. After all, they design and direct our goals and create a structure for our behavior.

imagesThese obstructions, like many others, are possible to move aside given that you have the right fulcrum. There is no certainty of the existence of a chant or theory that will be the catalyst for your “aha” moment, but, what is certain, is that you can create it for yourself. You are the foundation of your quieted mind.

I came to agree with this ideology—as I often do come to understandings or even questions—as I lay upon my yoga mat after an especially vigorous class. On this day, the outside world and its cares were rather easily forgotten. Like many of us, I do have a tendency to let shopping lists or big ideas flow around when I should be savoring my down time. The darkness was let in and welcomed and the familiar horizontal streaks of insistent daylight played in front of my lids. As I let go, images and lights flashed around incoherently. As they gelled, I had a vision that each of my fellow practitioners was sitting upon her mat in the form of Ganesha and each had a flame over her head. The room was not fully formed, so the background was a general haze of pale yellowish light. I was mesmerized and fascinated and happy and still disengaged from interpretation or analysis. As the voice of my teacher, Alison Levine, gently enticed us back to the moment, I held on to the feeling of wonder.

When I discussed this with Allison, neither of us really knew what to think of this. Obviously we knew it was Ganesha and I have a fondness for that deity, but that did not help me understand why he was manifested as a student and topped with the tongue of a flame as you’d see in relation to the Holy Ghost in Christian scriptures. I was raised Catholic so it’s possible some of the love and beauty from these teachings aligned with this deity, and being blessed with the Holy Spirit is much like being filled with the confidence of the Mover of Obstacles. But Ganesha is related to wisdom and intellect–a guide for those who prefer more active engagement with spirituality. I see the Holy Spirit related to surrender rather than action.

Interestingly, Ganesha is also associated with writers and a writer must remove any obstruction that impedes the creative or analytical process. Inspiration is really not an outside force, but an inner movement motivated by openness to possibilities. Upon reflection I felt a sense of surety that I was identifying each student present as their own mover of obstacles if not in life, in practice on the mat. We were all capable of embodying the idea of challenge and the flame was a reiteration of being infused with this potential.

This idea of possibilities in yoga crosses in to my teaching and writing often. The end is not always what I am concerned with , but the process and what coming to the mat, computer, or notepad may ignite. Your initial intention may very well be moved aside to make room for more or different experiences and output.

As you know, there is much out there on how to remove negative mantras from our thinking patterns, and the term “mindfulness” is becoming a mainstream catch phrase. But do we always find a personal connection to these pieces of advice or terms? And what about those who are interfered with by outside forces rather than internal and who may not have the spiritual resources, yet, to circumvent or fully remove these human or financial trees from the path? I find that when people say “get rid of excuses” or some such maxim, there is insight lacking in their statement. Excuses are formed of matter that bad experiences (perceived or real), low energy (spiritual or physical), and poor self esteem merge to create. An excuse is a symbol of much deeper concerns, not a generic barrier used to casually avoid change. BUT, once the platform for the excuse is restructured or razed, the practiced rationalization is no longer so dear or poignant to the person’s personal rhetoric. The obstacle has been removed or reworked and a new story can be written.

What is your obstacle? Is it a tangible object or a thought that impedes your forward momentum? As a practitioner, do you find any particular impediment to your practice or your quiet mind?

 

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Yoga, Writing, and Who You Really Are

A friend of mine just e-mailed an article to me that discusses what your favorite yoga poses tell you about yourself. Never mind the obvious issues of being in shape or still learning, because even something new or difficult can be stimulating to pursue. So what you decide to keep working on very well may tell you what you need or want in life in general.

I avoid side plank and am afraid of many inversions and don’t keep at them as much. But there are other poses that are difficult that I don’t avoid. Hmmm.

Those of you who know my work know then that this will continue on to a discussion of writing. And what does your writing say about you? I should ask first what does your reading say about you? Really, do you reach for People at the dentist’s office or Time? Do you buy books you think you should read while really wanting  to read something else? Either way, why?

I found myself today reaching to buy a book I thought I should read because I had been neglecting my studies in Irish literature. I wanted to read Neil Gaiman’s latest book of short stories. Gaiman won out. Who’s going to penalize me? After all, I dabble in the short story myself. How am I going to learn and improve if I don’t read the masters? I am not talking only of the members of the  literary cannon, but those whom I believe to be worthy of the title of master. Frankly, some writers are not to my taste and, no matter what their status in the literary community, I don’t prefer to read them–yet (or again). So do I not appreciate the writers I avoid or am I not ready to experience them fully? Can I fully embrace and engage in the profession of writing if I only read what I want instead of including what I should? You are wondering why I am not mentioning other authors’ names. This is simply because I want you to focus more on yourself and  your own questions about investigation and experience than debating my taste or choices. I’d rather you ask yourself about your choices and aversions and see where that leads.

As you read the article, see if you find out something new about yourself through your yoga practice. If you don’t practice yoga or not regularly, insert genres or authors in place of the poses and see what you find out about yourself.

http://life.gaiam.com/article/what-does-your-favorite-yoga-pose-say-about-you

I’m interested in your reactions  . . .

 

Blogging Into Books

As I map out my next writing project, I’ve been asking various people about how their blogging fits in to their overall writing goals. I’m amazed by how many people don’t connect their posts to or with their larger pieces. One friend told me that there is not really a book idea in that. Well, I disagree. I think that if your posts are connected in some meaningful way to an overall theme or philosophy, these tidbits can be rounded out to become a fully fledged book. It could be a memoir. It could be an analysis. It could be a study in “following” and “liking.” You pick.

I’m hoping that I’ll get some feedback from you and your views on the long-term worth of a blog post. What do you think?