November 7, 2011

Blurring the Edges: Yoga as Art.

My youngest daughter is a dancer. A few summers ago she took a dance intensive. One of the requirements was paying attention to the passing of time—sunrises and sunsets—the way trees moved in the breeze—how people walked and how she moved. I believe the point of this exercise was to slow down enough to experience the different rhythms. She was able to see her own rhythm juxtaposed against the rhythm of the earth, other people, and objects. I was pleased that she shared this information as it helps me to understanding how I move through the world.

I notice that I move differently after meditation— graceful—slower. I imagine Asana as body prayers or performance art— connective art—connecting to the rhythms of life. When I move I think about the Shakti energy—the life force within and how it mirrors the world around me–from broad to tiny—from contraction to expansion. If I imagine Asana as body prayers–an art form, then movement becomes sacred. I begin to connect my own inner flow to the world around me. By connecting I understand how we are interlaced to all movement–to life.

As a writer I am fascinated by how authors create ways to highlight the passing of time and movement. I look for this in movies too. I am interested in the in between times—dawn and dusk—lives being played out—birth and death and all the moments in between–the subtle ones that contain the threads of life. One of my favorites  authors, Gloria Naylor, captured the passing of time in her book, Mama Day.

“Time is a funny thing. I was always puzzled with the way a single day could stretch itself out to the point of eternity in your mind, all the while years melted down into a fraction of a second. The clocks and calendars we had designed were incredibly crude attempts to order our reality -nearing the close of the twentieth century, and we were still slavishly tied to the cycles of the sun and the moon. All of those number were reassuring, but the were hardly real. Reality was the unshaven face in the mirror, the sound of your running water in the coffee pot, and where was the calendar to explain that when I woke up yesterday – yes yesterday – it was the first time and now it is the fifteen hundredth? We’d invented nothing, had yet to conceive of anything that we could chart the mental passage of time… The life without you resided only in my memory, and the more distant that memory would become, I understood then how couples lasted for forty, fifty years. Get through the eternity of the longest day, and you’ve gotten through them all.” pp158-159

The above paragraph blew my mind. Naylor juxtaposes the past with the present, reality with fantasy, and the movement of time—a single day expands into eternity. I experience it like contractions. The writing tightens up causing the reader to focus on one sentence/thought. And then it expands. Then it snaps back to the moment. I must have read and reread this single paragraph over and over in an attempt to figure out time–isolate a moment–understand its passing. It helped me to expand my thoughts on “Being in the moment.” In meditation I attempt to bring my breath back, again and again to the moment. I often end up struggling. But when I think about moments as connected to all others–connected to time itself, for some reason what feels rigid relaxes.

When I bring my attention to how I am moving in the world–how I am moving in an Asana–when I notice what is surfacing–the subtle  thoughts and feelings–I connect to my inner Shakti—the rhythm and the life force in each of us. Movement–moments—day-to-day–breathing–in and out–waking–sleeping–this is Yoga.

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Patricia Busbee  |  Contribution: 400