Intention, breath, action

As I've mentioned before, one of the most powerful things meditation has given me is distance from my emotions. It allows me to step back and look at them. I find them curious, sometimes. Sometimes, like with anger, I notice how powerful they can be. At other times I notice what a lunatic I must look like! (I'm a far way off from not passing judgement on myself.) It doesn't mean I don't get angry or sad or frustrated or overwhelmingly happy as often, it just means I can step away a bit from these feelings, know they're happening and observe them. It's also a way of observing how clear my actions are, based on whether or not my judgement has been clouded by anger, fear, desire, etc. Meditation also clears out all the excess baggage and stress, without which I would certainly be depleting my energy source through all this travel.

In addition to meditation, I have been enjoying my KYM-prescribed practice now for just over one month. It takes about one hour and a half, currently, depending on the length of my breath that day. I try to practice in the morning, before meditation. Each day is the same routine. I start off with pranayama (breathing exercise), then my series of asanas (yoga postures) - first standing, then belly, rest, then back. Then more pranayama followed by rest, then one of two chants. After this is over, I do a bit more pranayama and then go into my meditation.

In routine, this isn't so dissimilar from what Matt and I used to do, but the intention and the awareness has changed. Yes, the asanas are much simpler, which does take some getting used to. KYM's philosophy is to start off based on where you are - what you can currently do completely comfortably. From there, you expand. So you don't go into postures you can barely handle and figure them out over the course of months. Instead, you do postures that allow for your breathing to be steady and that will build you up to those other, more difficult ones you're aching to do.

Before starting off I put my focus on my breath and attempt keep to it there. I try not to expect anything from the practice, as I've been taught. Just doing and staying focused, that is the goal. A goal which is much easier in concept than practice. But if my mind wanders, I try to bring it back. I let the breath initiate my movements, not the other way around. This has been one of the most profound changes in our learning. Intention, then breath, then action. You can apply this to any aspect of your life. Intention, then breath, then action. I'm sure yoga teachers have said this to me countless times before. I can be pretty stubborn.

Like meditation does for the mind, asana has allowed me to observe my body through the support of breath. Instead of interpreting every sensation in my body through my mind, I'm slowly getting used to allowing sensation to just happen. Say you have discomfort while doing a particular posture - your mind usually calls out "Ouch! Ouch! Pain! Bad. Move. Don't DO that. Move." Your body immediately jams up in response. I've slowly tried to quiet these judgements down and instead feel the sensation for what it is. Is it pain? Am I hurting myself? What is my body trying to tell me? Our body has so much to say, but our mind usually dumbs it all down. Generally we just associate these physiological sensations as emotions. Butterflies or knots in your stomach as nervousness, etc. Well, by quieting my mind down with breath, I am becoming more aware of sensation and trying not to let my mind have its way.

My wonderful physical healer and teacher back home Dominique Daly planted the seeds for all this quite a while ago. In fact, he introduced me to KYM by suggesting I read TKV Desikachar's book The Heart of Yoga, without which I may never have taken this course. So thank you, Dominique.

With meditation and asana together, I am noticing more the sensations I usually associate with emotions. Just recently I got unusually angry (well, old Anjuli angry) when I thought we were getting screwed over money. I have a thing with fairness and money. And those generally make Indian business transactions - where price is determined more based on what you can afford and there's no such thing as fairness - a bit difficult for me. So I got steaming, screaming angry. It was such a simple situation, but I could feel my blood boiling. I could feel the heat radiating inside of me and what felt like fire in my chest. It was a lot of energy. In the past I would try to stamp out those sensations, mute them, make them go away. I would be incredibly fearful of just letting those sensations run through me. What would they do? But what I've noticed is, once you let go, once you let things run their course, they don't have as much power anymore. That doesn't mean you get madder and madder, as I thought. It means you stop trying to control everything, exert all this mind power over your body. You don't try to run away from your anger. You just sit with it.

Well, as I've noticed these sensations, I realize that I do this a lot. Maybe you do too? I try to suppress what I think feels like anxiety, frustration, anger, fear, sometimes even excitement, happiness. Even simple things like being cold, hungry thirsty, etc. We learned during our Tracker School days to understand these sensations without adding discomfort to them. If I just sit with these physical feelings, like getting cozy with that feeling that rises when you're in a room full of strangers, well, they start to become comfortable, like friends. They're sensations in my body, after all. And they don't hold as much power over me. I don't want to run away. In fact, they only enrich the overall experience.

Maybe this is intuitive to all y'all out there, but I'm a recovering control freak. It's taken me 30 years to figure this shit out.

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