#reverb10, Awareness, bhakti, bliss, Body integration, chanting, dirty rotten hippie, heart chakra, kirtan, Mark Whitwell, Meditation, party, Presence, Sanskrit, Shadow Yoga, Vahni, Yoga
Almost at total catch up point now! Today’s been a weird day that involved a grown woman – at least ten years older than me – throwing a fully fledged tantrum in the work place. I can’t tell you how befuddling I find that!
Unfortunately I also find such things a little stressful, and with stress comes my good friend Anxiety. Let me tell you that anxiety blows. And this close to Christmas, it’s the last thing I need!
Anyhoo! On with the #reverbing!!
Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.
~ December 9 prompt
Go ahead, call me a dirty rotten hippie if you must but my idea of an awesome time is a night of kirtan – that’d be a Sanskrit word meaning something like chant/sing the glory/repeating.
And generally kirtan involves repetitive singing/chanting of a stanza or two – usually also in Sanskrit – sung over and over with varying degrees of intensity pretty much til your heart bursts open in joy, sitting on a cushion in a small crowd of like-minded souls, singing and later sipping chai, copping a hug or two and looking forward to the next one.
The end result is usually some form of ooey-gooey loved up state of being, having been hit by the bliss machine and feeling like a million bucks, plastered with the widest smile you’ve been wearing all week.
I know some people aren’t into kirtan because they think chanting the names of gods and goddesses they don’t believe in is somehow hokey. But the beauty of Sanskrit is that the words themselves have a vibrational quality. Simple repetition of these sounds and letting your singing voice come from the heart (not your head or your throat) creates an incredible heart chakra opening. It doesn’t really matter what the words mean!
Earlier this year, one of our group decided to have a kirtan party for her birthday. So a whole bunch of us gathered to eat wholesome pot luck yogic-type food, drink chai and chant for hours on end.
The party was held at a beautiful place called Prana House, upstairs on Sydney Rd on the north side of Melbourne. White drapes are the main decorations there, with incense burning and people wandering around in stocking feet. Everyone in comfy clothes, ready for a boogie!
We always start a kirtan session seated, but once the bhakti takes hold people often want to dance. And that night we certainly did! People of all ages were getting their groove on, including some very cute little munchkin yogis-in-training.
Before the night was out I’d been hugged ferociously, I’d sung my heart out and danced up a frenzy. No one was drunk; no one threw up or passed out. Everyone I met there was pleasant and happy to talk to others – no aloofness or sexual politics. Just a bunch of hippie/yogi types enjoying that expansion of love that kirtan generates…
Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
~ December 12 prompt
Let your mind rest in the practice, says my Shadow Yoga teacher.
I’d heard that one dozens of times before but didn’t really understand what she meant until recent times.
Mark Whitwell talks about the same thing in a different way – he says that asana can be your senior spiritual practice. That there is no meditation, just resting in the present moment.
I’m from a school of training that focuses on asana leading to seated meditation practice, and I still believe in the importance of an extended seated practice (starting at an hour, working up to multiple hours). BUT meditation with the same focus I described above.
As I’ve mentioned before, one of my nemesis-asana in Shadow Yoga is Vahni. I’ve been working it for the last year or so and yet it still causes me grief. These days I pretty much have it down on the left side of my body, but I regularly fall out of it on the right. Generally speaking, I fear it on some level and I know my fear contributes to how well I can do the pose.
In class a few weeks ago, I was most surprised to find myself moving fluidly into Vahni (on the left, of course). I sat back on my left heel with the right leg crossed over the left, and I discovered poise and comfort. But more than that, my mind and body were completely in this pose I’ve found challenging for so long. It was silent and calm. It was glorious!
Right then, a little voice at the back of my mind got all excited and said, Oh WOW! Look, we’re doing it, we’re doing it!!
Listening to my inner dialog caused me to fall out of the pose and land on my butt! I let loose with a hearty chuckle as I hit the floor.
As my Guru often says – the moment when you’re telling yourself that you’ve “got” something is actually when you don’t. There is nothing to attain or point to, we only need to come naturally to that state of pure presence and awareness. It can’t be forced.
It was a great teaching for me as a student and as well as for teaching others. Finding that sort of presence in asana practice (and not just meditation) isn’t easy to grasp. But what it showed me is how often I am NOT in that state while I practice asana, and that’s just a wasted opportunity.
The other thing I realised is the ease with which I can perform asana I’m otherwise a little frightened of in that state – a meditative mind isn’t providing confidence exactly, just a state of openness where anything is possible if you let it be just as it is…
No struggle. No drama.