You lose your grip, and then you slip / Into the masterpiece. -Leonard Cohen
In our upcoming workshop on June 9 in Malibu, my dear friend and inspired colleague, Peri Doslu, and I will create a container for this experience through the body, senses and awareness. We will use the elements as an avenue to shift attention into an inquiry of experience different from what we are accustomed to. I have enjoyed developing this workshop immensely and hope that I can share it with you. Here are some thoughts.
Daily I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have stumbled into/been drawn/destined to practice yoga. Exploring how fully I can exist with all my faculties in each moment, of feeling deeply and of honoring this gift of health and consciousness is such a blessing! The asana practice is the outer most skin and yet the complete package when I enter into it without an agenda other than to be present, fully. Yet the agenda arises almost immediately. Is my spine elongating evenly, can I refine my breath, are all fingers touching the ground. I recognize that this is part of the practice; I cease resisting what I might call the distraction of alignment, and widen my mental horizon to embrace the practice for whatever arises. In the exhalation, I accept the miracle of consciousness.
Throughout time, seekers have sought to understand and to have an experience of pure being. It fascinates me to realize that we are another drop in this long chain of magical and mystical thinking.
In the Mundaka Upanishad, the disciple asks: What is it that by knowing all else will be known? (I.3) The Prasna Upanishad was chronicled in the first millennium BCE. Seers and rishis asked similar questions to the ancient Greeks, and to contemporary seekers like us. What is the meaning of life? “Sir, how many gods support the body of the created being? How many of these manifest their power through it? And which one, furthermore, is paramount? (II.1) To the disciple, the sage replied: The powers are space, air, fire, water, earth, speech, mind, vision, and hearing.” (II.2)
In his book A Trackless Heart, Tibetan Buddhist teacher Ken McLeod suggests “Rest in the field of everything you experience, and then pose the question, ‘What experiences all this?’ Do not try and answer the questions. Just pose it and see what happens.”
While the infinite quest reveals itself through not knowing, and resting with whatever arises, we can play with the exploration through our bodies, and the elements that substantiate and sustain us. In yoga this is an accepted map of experience. Guruji Iyengar says, in an 1985 article: “The skin, one of the senses of perception covering the body has the sense of touch (air), carried to the brain and from the brain to the skin. It makes us feel the vibration of the movement (ether and air). Again the sense of touch has its origin in air. After a long sadhana (practice) the students feels the sense of touch from within. While performing the asanas even if the understanding is limited only to the movements, there is involvement of the gross elements, viz, earth, air and water.” (Aṣṭadaḷa yogamālā, Vol. 2)