I’ve always been the person who gets into the pool slowly. Dipping in my toes, then sitting on the side with legs in the water, and eventually sliding into the cool water slowly, so as to avoid the cold shock, which is always refreshing and wonderful...so what was I hesitating for?
This is Week Three of David Garrigues’ month-long program in Kovalam, India. I’ve settled in to some routines, and let go of some of the fears I had coming here - around food, bugs and just generally being on the other side of the world, away from anything familiar. I have a practice schedule and an apprenticeship schedule. I have found a few favorite places for meals and snacks that I’ve deemed “safe” and quite tasty. And developing friendships with my fellow DG compatriots as well as some of the locals is very comforting. Beach time, shopping, and massages also help pass the time :-)
|At the Open Market in Trivandrum|
Oddly, I don’t mind so much that I have to brush my teeth with bottled water, and that the toilets and showers are a little weird. I’ve become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells, like burning trash alongside the road, the constant honking of horns in traffic, and the frenetic pace of traffic here, with four lanes carved out of the two-lane roads, and very often oncoming traffic swerving out of the way just in time (or my driver swerving out of oncoming traffic just in time!).
|At the Open Market in Trivandrum|
|An impromptu Cricket game|
We chant and discuss the Yoga Sutras on Wednesdays, and last Wednesday David had something to get off his chest.
By way of setting the stage, we reviewed the idea that meditation is the experience of yoga, a stopping of the mind, and also a technique, and what we are going for with this nirodhah (stopping of the mind activity) is equanimity, clarity, centeredness so that anything that comes up will not throw us into reaction. The vrrti (mind activity) we are trying to stop is constantly pushing and pulling us, churning, and the more we identify and attach to that churning, the deeper the samskaras (patterns, grooves, attachments) become. When we are able to separate from these attachments, we can have equanimity...samadhi.
Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras gives us 3 practices from the Niyamas: Tapas (intensity in spiritual practice), Swadyaya (personal study), and Ishwara Pranidhana (surrender to practice/study) which are tools to help bring about Samadhi, and for attenuating the effects of the 5 Kleshas (afflictions).
Avidya = Sanyoga = no distinction between Purusa (self) and Prakrti (material world)
Asmita = “I-Ness”, Ego, an affliction of Ahamkara (Ego)
Raga = attachment to pleasure
Dvesa = Aversion to pain
Abhinivesah = Clinging to life
When we operate in our lives and in the world from a base of these kleshas, a cycle is created and patterns are formed (Samskara). Then we identify with these patterns, cling to them, and kleshas are formed. When we are able to stop this identification/association, we can, over time, clear those patterns and stop the cycles.
David told us about what he calls the “Fortress of Sameness”. We tend to build ourselves a wall with these Samskara (patterns). There is so much fear involved in needing to repeat these patterns we’ve created. We LIKE this material world we’ve created. We naturally develop associations from our daily experiences -- “Cake tastes good, I like cake, I must try to have cake again, what if I can’t ever have cake again (Oh NO!)”...OR “I didn’t like how it felt to be yelled at, I must try to avoid that, I won’t do anything that might bring that about again!”...OR “I like living in this world, I’d like to live as long as possible, I’ll do anything I can to preserve this life/body” But the fear involved in falling into these patterns is STRONG, PERVASIVE, UNCONSCIOUS. And the “Fortress of Sameness” is our hideout from this fear.
David’s job is to PURPOSELY PLACES US IN FEAR...so that we may enter into a relationship with this fear, striving to turn it around.
“TAKE A GAMBLE” David says. Our practice is about churning, stirring up the strong energy of these patterns and afflictions, entering into relationship with them and TAKING A RISK.
“NOT RISKING IS RISKIER THAN RISKING.”
BUT...Take these gambles using SKILL IN ACTION. Use props so as to gamble with limits. Find alignment and breath in asana. This equanimity of alignment and breath is unbiasing. And this equanimity checks the cycle of Samskara...doesn’t make new patterns, and slowly erases old patterns.
JUMP IN THE WATER...maybe check for crocodiles first ;-)