Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Pathway III: Gateway
Copyright Lance Kinseth, Gateless Gate / Mumon, 2011
A CONSISTENT BODY-MIND practice forms a pathway that begins somewhere in the past and reaches into the future. Consistent practice might be likened to an upward trail around a mountain. If we have practiced for a while, we have likely encountered points where the pathway offers new perspectives. Looking back to where practice began, things that once were large are now small—as if on a mountain trail and gazing back at an outspreading moraine below where roadways are reduced to thin lines and details are lost. And looking ahead, there is a vast, opening terrain, where the present moment of practice is somehow a tiny facet of the vast—as if gazing into an archipelago of clouds and the tips of numerous summits of a range of mountain uplift. And ahead on the pathway, there are turns that will offer views now hidden.
While the depth of our practice will grow with consistent returns, it is also possible that we might travel a good distance and fall far short of what the pathway offers us. This occurs when the pathway becomes routine, and we hold to narrow expectations rather than calm. In yoga, for example, we may settle for a little more strength or flexibility or familiarity with the routine. And our practice may then become a walled tunnel rather than an opening gateway.
When we come to a body-mind practice session, we cross a threshold. We might believe that we are simply stepping from the face pace of everyday into a still space for some moments of respite. But when the body-mind practice optimizes calmness, we might cross over into an unwalled landscape that is almost like finding another world inside the everyday world. This newfound world is not an esoteric escape, but rather is a step inside the deep work that buoys up the everyday.
In everyday time, we might say, “It is 1PM—time for restorative yoga to begin.” However, by 2 PM, the practice room will have rotated perhaps one thousand miles to the East as the Earth rotates and, in our everyday vision, the sun appears to move West. By 2 PM, on our matts, we have journeyed well over one million miles as a dust speck aspect of the Milky Way Galaxy—flying carpets of sorts! All of this might go unperceived since we find comfort in creating distance and boundaries as a “nectar” of familiarity that offers comfort, while each moment, cosmos sweeps through our actions, and we, almost unknowingly and not wanting to know, express cosmos.
Coming for a physical workout or for relaxation or for respite, we likely will find walls where there is a gateway. When we do not calm, this gateway is likely to remain hidden. But when we calm, where there once seemed to be a wall, a pathway may open an enduring child state that offers a sense of wonder.
Copyright Paige Andreas, age 8, The Door At The End Of The Rainbow, 2011