Archive | November, 2012

Ghost Body

9 Nov

“In ancient times, bears were considered equal with men…”

Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai  is one of my favorite movies of all time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and I stumbled across the clip on youtube. As I watched it I realized, “wow, I used to way more than a bear!”. No wonder they are my totem animal! I’ve had the phrase “Ghost Body” pop into my head frequently during practice for the last two weeks. At first I was like, “WTF?”. Then i realized that sometimes I still think I am carrying around my former 320 pound body. I will think that I can’t fold forward in certain positions when I actually can. It’s as if there is a “Ghost Body” surrounding me and I can still “feel” her, like people who can feel an amputated limb. Interestingly, I never stayed in my starved, thinner body long enough to develop a skinny “ghost body”.  She’s more like a whispering voice, a feeling, than a physical thing I lug around with me. When I am truly present in my current body and not divorced from it, I spend a lot of time trying to find the “edges”—how big am I, actually? Where do I stop and start? How far can I bend or reach? Where does my arm or leg go, really? Somewhat like moving to a new city and learning how to navigate the streets…you get lost a lot at first.

I also have begun to notice how much I “guard” certain areas of my body during practice. I clocked this after a conversation with my sponsor about how emotionally guarded I still am with certain people and at certain times. I find in Ashtanga that I seriously guard my left elbow (broken when I was skateboarding and drunk and 25), my right hip (could write a novel about this), my knees, my left ankle (surgery), my right hand (two surgeries). There’s a geographic area of my body that I feel like I need to protect, to keep it from further pain and trauma. But my guarding and vigilance is actually preventing the healing from happening! I realized this today during Ardha Baddha and burst into tears on my mat, which is happening again frequently. I felt a bizarre wash of warmth down my injured right side…so strange. And now my hip is feeling much better, go figure. Maybe my inner Samurai needs to find a new occupation instead of guarding my injuries. I have been throwing around the idea of learning Kendo lately…

I am trying notice my Ghost Body and just acknowledge her without fighting her. I carry her with me, and I don’t have to hate her. I am still a “fat” Ashtangi, and I will probably never be a skinny, bendy yoga chick–I  honestly don’t give a sh$t anymore. My weight is no longer my business, and I have no idea where this practice will take me physically.  I’ve spent so many years trying to artificially manipulate my body and my consciousness that I have no idea who I am or what the f*ck a “healthy me” looks or feels like physically. I have a sneaking suspicion that through dedication to this practice (practicing these principles in all my affairs for you 12 steppers out there), I will eventually regard my current body as yet another “Ghost Body”—with kindness and compassion. Everything changes. Bring it, Universe! I am f*cking stoked for transformation.

NaNoWriMo, Kingsley Amis, and the Mythos of the Alcoholic Writer

8 Nov

image courtesy of the aptly named sabotagetimes.com

 

In my 20’s, I read quite a bit of Martin Amis. Somehow, I have managed to not read any Kingsley Amis and I think I am going to have to rectify that gap in my literary education very soon. I stumbled across this excellent article about Kingsley Amis when I was digging around trying to find the quotation about “metaphysical hangovers” that my roommate and I used to talk about so long ago. I never forgot that! From the article ” Madman About Town: The Life and Times of Kingsley Amis”:  “Kingsley has written often and poignantly about that moment when getting drunk suddenly turns into being drunk,” wrote Martin Amis, “and he is, of course, the laureate of the hangover.” Ah, the mythos of the alcoholic writer. This mythos kept me trapped in a cycle of drunkenness for decades. Personally, my writing got worse and worse as I got drunker and drunker and eventually it stopped completely. Staying wet dried me out. No thanks, I’ll take sobriety. Articles like this are a great reminder for me.

I wanted to do National Novel Writing Month again this year, but yoga is not going to fit well into a routine of frantic writing for 5-6 hours a day for 30 days straight. Maybe next year! I did it in 2009 and actually finished a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It was an amazing experience that I got to have because I was sober. If you’ve never done it, definitely try it at least once.

http://www.nanowrimo.org/

http://www.drunkard.com/issues/08_05/0805_kingsley.htm

Yoga Hip Rotation Explained: Kino MacGregor Adjustment Workshop

6 Nov

My ongoing obsession with both my screwed-up hips and anything Kino has to teach me from afar knows no bounds! Hey, that skeleton is more flexible than I am! And it’s DEAD!

Ashtanga Report, Month Seven

5 Nov

The Ashtanga Report…like the Colbert Report, only not as funny and apolitical and without ironic eagle screams. Maybe that would jazz my blog up, eagle screams…

October was a weird month. I am working on Mari A, B and C and I was having a LOT of frustration and pain at the end of the month. I really appreciated all of the helpful feedback and comments I’ve gotten on this blog, especially after my “Dark Entry” at the end of October. I am always so amazed and grateful that anyone takes the time to read this mess! I also got sick at the end of the month which derailed me a little bit. In any case, I’ve realized that I do not function well without Ashtanga. I need it. It makes me a much nicer human being, period. Even when I am cranky and sore and experiencing crazy talk from my ego, I need to be on my mat. I have to embrace the dark parts of practice just like I embrace the dark parts of myself. The more I focus on breath and bandhas, the less jibber jabber goes on between my ears and that is a wonderful thing indeed.

Taking Back Sunday: Eckhart Tolle Video, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

4 Nov

I have a love/hate relationship with Sundays. Growing up Catholic, this day will be forever linked with church whether I like it or not. I have not been to mass since somewhere around 1992. I used to always just feel ooky and weird on Sundays in the decades after I escaped Catholic Church. The entire day felt like a miserable black hole– like a psychic funeral where there was no corpse, but there should have been. I was usually hideously hung over and remorseful and desperately seeking not Susan, but Smirnoff and Advil. My roommate and I used to refer to the “metaphysical hangover” (thank you, Kingsley and Martin Amis)–the feeling of utterly hopeless sucking dark doom that would come over us some mornings after a particularly insane drinking rampage.

These days I’ve realized that I can take back Sunday. I can explore new, spiritual ideas and practices—no one is going to force me to go to Church ever again. On Sundays, I engage in other spiritual activities. I read spiritual books, I go to my afternoon meditation 12 step group, I practice yoga and sometimes I watch spiritual videos or attend a virtual satsang with Mooji (more on another Sunday about that).

I love Eckhart Tolle—he’s like a magical library gnome. There’s something so lovely, spiritual and impish about him—almost mischievous while simultaneously kind. These are qualities I always look for in spiritual teachers. I did not want to love The Power of Now or A New Earth (ewww, Oprah!), but I did. Many people in my 12 step programs of recovery highly recommended The Power of Now, and I’ve read it several times. I always find something new upon re-reading it. Today’s little gem that I received when I just randomly opened the book is:

“Emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet…if you cannot feel your emotions, if you are cut off from them, you will eventually experience them on a purely physical level as a physical problem or symptom…a strong unconsious emotional pattern may manifest as an external event that appears to just happen to you…if you have difficulty feeling your emotions, start by focusing attention on the inner energy field of your body. Feel the body from within. This will also put you in touch with your emotions.”  (pages 25-26, The Power of Now).

This is something I have directly experienced because of the powerful practice of Ashtanga yoga. All of my injuries and stiff, painful areas are linked to strong emotions that I was not consciously aware of. Many of the “accidents” that have “happened” to me took place during times of great unconscious emotional turmoil. My hips are an emotional battlefield—I am still clearing the debris of decades of repressed emotions. This has been brought up during practice over and over again, and I have begun to experience this in a completely new way as a result of Ashtanga practice. Drishti, bandhas and breath make so much sense—go within and focus on the inner energy field. That is where healing takes place.

Today’s Taking Back Sunday post is a lovely video courtesy of the miracle of youtube. I got so much out of it, especially the gem that takes place around 27:00:

“Love nothing but what comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more actually fit your needs?” —Marcus Aurelius

Eckhart Tolle on this: “The pattern of your destiny is the totality in which you move, and whatever you encounter…in this moment, the only moment that there is, must be part of this web of the pattern of your destiny where everything is connected with everything else…I speak of the inevitability of the form of the present moment…the entire history of the world has brought about the form of this moment obviously…it has produced the form that this moment takes and that is the web, that is the pattern, that is part…and to go against that is insane, to not accept it…so one theme that runs through it (the book) is to live in a state of non-resistance of what is.”

I immediately thought of my resistance to the difficult asanas, to the pain and stiffness and injuries, to the surrender of where I am today in the asana as opposed to where my ego thinks I should be, to the humbling nature of Asthanga practice itself.

Kino MacGregor on the Yoga of Gratitude

4 Nov

A good post to start November off…I also loved seeing Kino on the beach in my home state. I miss you, South Florida!

 

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