Saturday, January 22, 2011
A Note On Transformation: The Farther Reaches Of Practice
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Unmoving Wisdom/Fudoki, 2011
AS THE NUMBER OF sessions of restorative yoga accrues, there is a deepened, direct experience of relaxation in sessions and, gradually, the presence of calmness in everyday life. Relaxation begets a calmness that is not just psychological respite from the fast pace of modern life, but rather is a real physiological response that carries forward into the everyday. With practice, brain chemistry is gradually modified so that one is less reactive, experiences of calmness in everyday life increase, and the ability to intentionally generate a calm state strengthens. Across time, other rich qualities are likely to emerge, such as a sense of purpose. Events that seemed insignificant may begin to be perceived as somehow meaningful and life enriching. The fall of one insignificant leaf or the smile or comment of another person may be more deeply attended. This meaningfulness may even swell to a broadening sense of wonder, awe, humility, compassion and gratitude.
Relaxation begets calmness that, in turn, begets awareness. Calmed, one opens to new experiences, and breaks habit and routine.
But there is another wonderful step to be taken: Relaxation that provokes calmness that, in turn, expands awareness may, in turn, offers the opportunity for transformation. With transformation, life becomes qualitatively different. The questions one brings to experience dramatically change. A sense of self-identity may markedly expand. Events that, heretofore, seemed external become interwoven and interpenetrating, and even come inside one’s identity.
With transformation, our lives are experienced to be expression of larger processes and in the service of those processes. Our activities become a multifold path wherein all parts—bodywork, vocation, art, care-giving, and so forth, like facets of a jewel, increasingly may reflect the same purpose from different angles. With transformation, there is a strong identity with sense of being-ness as well as being creatural or deeply natural rather than being exclusively defined by personality traits and roles. And perceptions may expand from simply seeing experiences as other "objects" to see "process." Then, that which is really occurring may be what Thich Nhat Hanh terms "interbeing" or what R. D. Laing terms "inter-experience." A spring blossom occurs because of the tilt of the Earth back toward the sun, and a tree is a "rivering" or streaming of sun and Earth's hydrology and minerals.
While “transformation” may seem to equate with states of ecstasy wherein one might perceive “oneness,” it is perhaps most authentic and healthy when it involves an enduring change in everyday life as-it-is.
The heart of yoga is, finally, neither about physical exercise nor meditation. Yoga is not, finally, even about yoga. If optimal, even yoga transforms itself to the point of transcending itself. As a result of quiet practices, various spiritual disciplines meet on a common plateau.
The stillness and quietness of restorative and yin yoga can be particularly valuable as a gateless gate, becoming a threshold of stillness and quietness that is markedly different from the fast pace of everyday life. The quietness and stillness can open a remarkable pathway that is marked along the way by “cairns” [i.e., markers] of relaxation, calmness, and awareness that consummate in transformation.
A grand goal of “connecting with the cosmos or universe” can be experienced along the pathway through several realizable psycho-spiritual benefits that are all facets of the other:
· Listening to the body for cues to address physical needs [stress reduction, fitness, nutrition],
· Accessing and training intuition [“inner cellular intelligence” operant in the body’s complex design and ongoing function],
· Becoming more observational of experience rather than judgmental/analytical [seeing/sensing fully rather than reacting—to open a gate rather than construct a barrier],
· Feeling very general states captured by metaphors such as “calm heart” and “peaceful spirit” and “eloquence” and “grace” and “flow,”
· Having experiences of “integration” that are not just ecstatic and momentary but are increasingly expressed in everyday actions, and
· Gradual activation of a lasting “transformation” of core patterns rather than just rest.