August 31, 2013

Hang Over Practice. ~ Conny Lechner

Letting Go Through Letting Loose

When the alarm clock rang at 6:30 am, I had no idea why I had promised myself that I would go to the mysore yoga class, when I had been out partying less than three hours earlier.

“If you can go out partying, then you can go to the mysore class as well,” I told myself. While writing this, I’m asking myself if this is an ambitious approach to one’s yoga practice, or once again an ego-driven behavior—one more concept it might be time to let go.

I began driving, half asleep from Venice to my daily harbor. I dragged myself up the steps to the first floor, still doubting the sanity of my resolve. The only thought I had in that moment was that it was going to be my worst practice ever.

Rolling out my yoga mat, standing in Samasthiti, mountain pose, I felt a weakness, both mentally and physically. I started my first Sun Salutation, followed by the next one, then Padangustasana (big toe pose), and so on, until I woke up again in Savasana, or corpse pose. More precisely, I felt myself waking up again. I woke up by my mind, which started chattering again, reminding me of things I was supposed to do, or to be worried, scared or happy about.

Now, after some days have gone by, I have come to the conclusion that it was not how it appeared to be in the first moment—it was the other way around. This moment in Savasana was merely a waking up, rather than an entering in the hamster wheel of my mind again.

In these two hours of my practice, I was in a state of no expectations, no expectations about my body, my practice, or myself. I was completely “in the zone”.

By not judging my practice or myself (which I normally tend to do,) I realized there was no right or wrong with my practice or myself. There was no struggling, no conflict and no tension. In fact, there was no active mind involved in dualistic perception. I would even say that there was no separated “I” arising in my consciousness.

There was simply a complete acceptance of everything.

Through my tiredness, I was able to let go. This letting go is not to be mistaken with drifting away. My fears, my cravings, my aim to achieve deeper back-bending, more strength in the arms or the (subjectively) perfect triangle pose were not a matter of being goal-driven or even aware.

There was just presence.

A mind, which tends to go back and forth in daily life, which loves comedies and tragedies but has the biggest difficulties seeing its essence, found a space in which there was no need for seeking, escaping or longing. There was no happiness depending on something or other. A freedom from all motivation, a state in which no desire arises. In this state of mind, I didn´t bond to a particular image of myself, to an “I”, or to “my” body. There was no need for the possession or holding on to anything.

There was only awareness.

Completely spontaneous awareness.

It was a clear and simple acceptance of the present moment as such. – Something very rarely experienced in daily life. Often out of the misunderstanding that we have to find the experience of the present moment. But there is no present to be found, as we are always in the present, it’s just our mind that escapes.

Maybe we feel we are more present and awake when we are productive, when we have a bunch of thoughts floating through our mind, figuring out this or that.

But does this ongoing stream of thoughts really mean that we are awake and more alive? Isn’t it that we keep ourselves stuck in the past or the future rather than being in the moment, when we are “that productive”?

“Our true home is not in the past. Our true home is not in the future. Our true home is in the here and how. Life is available only in the here and now, and it is our own true home.”

-Thich Naht Hanh

A state of awareness of the present gives you the possibility to look inside, rather than to look outside. This inward gaze gives us a taste of seeing what is and what is not. Awareness of the present moment stops us from deluding ourselves, from being perpetually lost in our thoughts and out of our minds. We create and experience more space, receive a broader perspective, see more clearly and open ourselves to the possibilities that exist in a single moment.

Well, I still won’t suggest going to a mysore class after a long night out to experience the present. As I said before, you don´t need to look for the right opportunity to be present, as you are always in the present. Become aware.

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Assist Ed.: Andie Britton-Foster/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Conny Lechner