Monday, September 19, 2011
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Buddha-Ocean / Fo-hai, 2011
REPETITION AND CYCLE do not consummate as much in circles as in spirals. No event is repeated. Amazing freshness!
Perched on a coastal shoreline, incoming waves seem the same or, at least, repeating sequels of waves of different intensity. For example, the waves photographed above express a vast process. The amber color of the waves are an expression of the vast plate underlying Lake Superior tilting down on its southern side, eroding the south coasts, turning the lucid waters there amber to reddish color that is visible in the photo.
There are turquoise waves. There are waves that seem glassine, when the waves raise up and thin so that you can see right through them, and there are waves glittering from sun-struck scales of fish lifted inside the thinning curve of the incoming wave. These waves are a metaphor for waves in our intentional movements, in our cycles of respiration and digestion, and in the flow of each moment of time.
In body-mind practices where sequences of form and pose are repeated, the practice might seem to be the same. Day-by-day, physically, it is not the same. And by returns to practice, we may come to sense that these waves are spirals rather than circles. Across time, body-mind practices might be compared to a slowing trek, slowly spiraling upward on a mountain path. Rather than going around in circles, in each new turn, there are new views ahead and a different perception when glancing back from where we have come. Flexibility and strength and mobility improve, and subtlety and depth of actions, both in body-mind practice and in everyday life, increase. Paradoxically, across time, in our “repetition,” there is a strong sense of “development” and “change” and “progress”—“spiraling.”
Our breaths and our soft movement in body-mind practices have much in common with waves of water or wind. Were we to really examine who we are and that for which we are living, we might get a hold on this sense of “spiraling”—continually changing—that comprises the very heart of our living and being-ness. We might have a sense of not only touching something eternal and enduring, but also something that is not archaic, something that is “modern” and falling into the future.
In everyday life, many of our actions can seem blunt and abrupt rather than fluid and circular. Body-mind practices offer a pathway to awaken this profound sense of participation in the ongoing creation of the world.
In modern life, when metaphors such as “wave” and “flow” arise within our practice, we may dramatically elevate our practice, especially in terms of beauty and increasing calmness. In our practice, there is likely to be something akin to the flow of wind in grass and incoming waves in water, and the nuances of each swirl, are not primitive, but rather, something beautiful, and this is eloquently expressed in the longstanding Japanese term of appreciation, furyu —the “beauty of wind and water.”
In the quiescence of many body-mind practices, each of our breaths and each gesture can generate a sense of being like the curve of wind-blown snow in deep winter or wind-in-grass or the wind-singing of trees or the fractal sweep of a covey of birds or of the river around a boulder in any season. The wind-blown curve of snow or wind-in-grass or the incoming wave on Big Sur, on coastal California, mirror something that is occurring in our body-mind practices.
By returns to body-mind practices, we stand to extend this expanded awareness more consciously into our everyday lives, rather than simply be a quality that is limited to the practice session. The relatedness of body-mind practices to everyday life is, really, that which draws us like a magnet to such practices. We hunger for something deep albeit elusive in these practices that may be missing or overwhelmed at times in our everyday. We speculate that it might be possible to “thrive” rather than just survive. And in our thriving and energizing, we might become outspreading waves of energy that, humbly rather than ostentatiously, may add some small moments of grace to the everyday, and refresh and energize others, outspreading—shanti—being peace.
Each of our movements, from the beginning of practice through becoming an adept, no matter how restricted or malleable, is beautiful, graced—a wave. In the flow from one pose to another or in the flow of tai chi from rolling back to pressing, the multiplicity of wave that is the dynamic of the physical and biotic Earth flies softly forward.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
SUMMER THROUGH SEPTEMBER Saturday Yoga In The Park in Des Moines, Iowa: Sponsored by Des Moines Parks & Recreation, Gray's Lake Park, free and open to all levels, facilitated by different yoga practitioners in Central Iowa each week, currently drawing between 100-200 participants per week
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Middle Way / Chudo, 2011
Rolling toward Equinox
The slow-sway of Earth now away from the Sun
Toning down the burst to life,
A wash of the stars,
Overflowing and then softly waning.
SEPTEMBER: a middle way—in between plenitude and loss
In the North American mid-continent, there is the tug of a swelling tide of biomass from summer’s production and the simultaneous outflow of light in the waning of days
A time of seasonal transition from summer to the meteorological autumn
Butterflies, the silk of milkweed, fallen apples, ochre fields of golden corn, golden rod and woodland sunflowers
Tattered leaves—wind-beaten and devoured and encysted by insects
The drying garden—in this drying, a sense of ending—the coming end of flora, and in in human life as exemplified in Japan—in the coming visits to family graves near equinox
Against summer’s heat, an incoming coolness—a sense of beginning and freshness
The temperature shift now becoming literal in morning haze in midcontentent, as fogged Earth leans back from the sun—jeweled cobwebs and grass blade
Harvest moon—the full moon closest to equinox, rising within a half-hour of sunset, looking very large and brightening night, and so named for the gift of night illumination to complete the harvest.
IN THE NORTH AMERICAN mid-continent, September’s moderation of climate might inspire some symmetry between body-mind practice and the immanent season.
A middle way in body-mind practice, in between the tides of pressing to a physical edge and release, moderation is strongly expressed in third excellence of yoga: to allow the practice to be just what it is, to be what is optimal for that day, rather than to aspire to rush ahead. Moderation is also expressed in Santosha—contentment with life-as-it-is. In moderation, a release of tension appears. In the calmness of moderation, nuances lost in the depletion of energy might appear, offering more clarity. In moderation, more “space” and time is offered, allowing for deeply enriched states of being, such as charm and grace, to appear in the moments of practice.
Attention given over to moderation in body-mind practice can translate into optimal human attributes that extend into everyday life: Mental Calmness, Mediation, Diplomacy, Composure, Poise, Forbearance, Temperance, Tolerance, Peace, and Lenience
Moderation is the center wherein all philosophies, both human and divine, meet.
In restorative yoga, perhaps there might be an overall rekindling of a strong sense of moderation in all poses. And for special emphasis in this or any season, Mahamudra, an advanced seated pose for breath control that resembles Janu Sirasana, might be moderated for rich restorative practice to provide a place for deep listening to the body. Modified,
- Place either a bolster or rolled blanket under the knee of the extended leg to both bend and support knee, releasing hamstring and gastronemius muscle tension.
- Place another rolled blanket or bolster atop knee.
- Lean gently forward, bending elbows and stacking hands softly on shins just below knee on extended leg, and resting head gently on support to release neck tension. Support atop knee should also aspire to release tension in lumbar fascia. [Raising head support or adding a slight backward bend of the thoracic spine can reduce lumbar tension. Perhaps wrap the body in a blanket.
Once in the pose, inhale-exhale softly and evenly through nose. With tension released, energy is optimized for focus on developing a stillness. Then bring awareness to sensations that emerge from one’s entire body mass—a feeling of being fully inside the complete body rather than either focus on in a specific area or thoughts generated by the feelings, attending to the vitality of life force and energy that is continuously active throughout the body. Relax and listen deeply. Repeat on other side.