Monday, December 28, 2009

A Yogic Challenge




"There are, however, four more distractions: (1) dukha - pain or misery, (2) daurmansya - despair, (3) angamejayatva - unsteadiness of the body and (4) svasa-prasvasa - unsteady respiration."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, 32nd paragraph of the Introduction.

Somehow, the language is clarified for me here. Pain or misery, despair, unsteadiness of the body, and unsteady respiration are distractions to the practice of Yoga. I also look at these concepts to see where I might be off the mark.

Pain is not Yoga. If I am in pain I am distracted. How can I work to alleviate the pain? Often people come to Yoga because of one pain or another, and Yoga helps them. But sometimes we can be attached to pain and unknowingly perpetuate it.

Despair is not Yoga. Despair=Loss of Hope. Hopelessness is a distraction away from Yoga, and I don't think that I can afford this drain on my resources. I am so inspired when I see people doing yoga; it lights up my day. I am totally happy and absorbed into my immediate experience most of the time during my practice. But I am not a stranger to what I call my "cloak of sadness". It is a dispirited state where I am lost. The good thing about a cloak is that it comes off. Maybe I can dodge it like a gloomy cloud. But it sneakily finds its way around me more that I'd like to admit. It is a distraction, and rather than seeing shortcomings as being so important, maybe I can just see thinking about it for what it is: distraction. It fragments my personal strength when I am fooled by the Joker of Despair.

Unsteadiness of the body is not Yoga. How can I cultivate steadiness? Or maybe I can find the steadiness that is beneath my wavering.

Unsteady respiration is not Yoga. I must study my breath to understand this one. In a way I get it, but knowing the breath seems different from the way I was taught to "know" things. This knowledge is so different from memorization. It's like following the very current of life with my minds eye.

These four enthralling distractions are related to our tendency to cling to our lives (Abhinivesa). Pain can cause worry about deterioration of the body, so we can get stuck in that. Despair is another form of quicksand, feeding on itself, not wanting to let go. A person might wonder: Am I ever going to live my dreams? Physical and respiratory unsteadiness are other sinkholes of fear to be looking out for. How can we step forward confidently in a world that appears/feels imperfect? Ahh, quite a challenge! A Yogic Challenge.


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