Backbend It Away!

Namaste The second day of the backbend workshop, we were discussing about how our present mental state is something which is brewing out of preceeding causes and conditions. A principle termed as karya-karana sambandha, sat-karya vada etc in diff scriptures. Let me try to put it down, relating it to a personal practice, hoping that it becomes more easy to understand, rather than saying, the thread is avidya giving rise to samskaras and vasanas giving rise to iccha and sankalpa giving rise tojnana giving rise to kriya giving rise to karmaphala, giving rise to raga and dvesha, plunging you into samsara and eventually into duhkha. So, here goes, as i just attach what i typed yesterday evening in studio 2, right before evening yoga class.

This is Friday, Ashtanga day, 11 am!Morning class was good. Some students showed real improvement.Also, Annie asked some valid doubts about relational self, relative happiness etc. Great! People do read the mails. Wonderful!

Thoughts drifted to evening class. ‘Can I guide Chin’s shoulder extension to its full range in Prasarita padottanasana C? Perhaps Beena’s Marichi c binding too. Sivalal is starting to again improve, and can he be made to catch the big toe in half lotus;Can Say Guan can come in time?’; and so on. With all these possibilities, started feeling buoyant about the evening class. Just 6 hrs to go for the class, I thought.

So, my feelings about the evening class, dependent on these ideas, intentions and aspirations was giving lot of energy and motivation for teaching in the evening.

Now, just 30 mts to go for evening class. Sitting in the studio room. Current mental state? Dont want to teach! Reason? Feeling a bit feverish, chilly and tired.

So, my feelings about the class, now dependent on my body, is getting sapped out of energy and motivation..

Insight- the thoughts arising in the front at any moment are dependent on certain causes and conditions behind it, such as intention, attention, action, connection, feelings etc.

Timefor an introspective arch back and drop. Let us see what may be found

1. Starting position- the current state- feeling a bit down, a certain resistance to teaching, a certain resistance to do sitting breath awareness. Chest feels a bit closed and inhalations are shallow. No mirror, but face must be grumpy.

2. Second position- arched back a bit- Here it is seen thatawareness istotally relating to the body, and then getting identified with, ‚ÄòI am sick, I am tired’ conclusions.

3. Third position- arched back a bit more- Now can see that because I am contacting or in connection with sickness perceptions, the feeling of chill, feverishness along with connected thoughts are being excessively churned by mind. Can hear the mind saying, ‚Äòyou are going to be sick again, for next five days’ etc

4. Fourth position- Arching even further- sees that, I am in contact with these thoughts and bodily sensations, because, I am intensely attending to these sensations

5. Arching back a bit more, I see thatmy intention for a strong and effective teachingwas alwaysdependent on a robust body, where it can walk around energetically, can lift anybody to handstand, can make refined adjustment by which student understands some subtle action etc

6. Straining to arch back a bit more, I see that I am ignoring lot of other things which can be seen, but which is blinded by obsessive attending to sickness signs. That other than a slight chill, I still can talk, can walk around, and instead of hoisting everyone up in handstand, can orient the class to be strict with vinyasa, or to be strict with uddiyana action or drishtis, without straining physically.

7. Once I saw that, quickly changed my concentration to these points. Soonstarted to feel energetic again.The buoyant feeling right before a class is starting to swell again. Let me stop now. Chin, Sivalal, Sai Yeang, Say Guan and the rest, here i come!

Now, have to apologize for this self based writing.

What I am trying to point out is that, at any point of time, whatever is being felt, it is not just a spontaneous, sudden thing. Of course sometimes some sudden thing can happen. But . And if you can look back from where you are, then you can see that the current mood/ though loop is dependent on a chain of causational succession of events/ ideas preceding it.

And instead of succumbing and reacting at the current state, if we can develop the capacity to be aware, and to look without reacting, then we will see, we will understand this chain of dependent effects. In the above cited example, when I was dependent upon a robust body for my confidence for teaching, then, this dependence set up the causes and conditions forduhkha or suffering, because the body, as with anything has the characteristics of impermanence (anitya) or unpredictability, inherent unsatisfactory-ness and which is essentially non-self (anatma). And when we really look at things non reactively, insights can develop, and then we can change our dependence on unwholesome causes, see other things, lean a bit on it, and thus change the causes and conditions which can precipitate a wholesome effect.

Ok. That was my drop back on a rather small thing. It is now time for you to drop back.

So, next time you find yourself in an unwholesome state, get ready for a backbend.

Start to arch back from the current upset state, and see what immediately is behind it. See what you were depending upon for the non upset state till you got upset. And just keep dropping back. You will start to see what youwere ignoring, and how stuck the mind is with the thing which is upsetting it. And just this awareness itself can act as a sort of dissolvent of the glue which was keeping you bound to the upsetting thing.

Now, how to stack a series of causes which can eventually give rise to unshakeable peace? Scriptures say, we have to have the right knowledge (vidya)of body and mind for that. And for getting this knowledge, first we should have shraddha with a particular teacher. Then virya or intensity. Then smrti or remembrance of the teachings. Then continuous self observation or svadhyaya. Then the insightful understanding (prajna)that the body and mind are not really ours. We are responsible for it, but they are really not ours. Thenwe start to see or get inquisitive about how it is all working. Thenwe cankind of dedicate or release the body and mind to its own conditioning, coordinating principles. Patanjali says leave it to Iswara. Then concentration develops. Followed by ma√Ætre, karuna, upekshanam etc. Then a sweet pleasantness or prasadam. And then, perhaps, even samadhi. But what is samadhi? Ok, samadhi is classified into different types. They are…

Ok, in another mail, when i get an opportunity. Happy back bending