Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dead cows, vivid dreams, and practice

A big part of my practice this morning was like pulling a dead cow through a bog. I woke up feeling very tired. I stayed up a little later reading this book that I was really engrossed in (more on this in a upcoming blog post), and then had a very vivid dream. I'm not going to bore you with the details of the dream (it's going to take too much explaining), but it wasn't unpleasant. It's one of those dreams where people from different chapters in my life came together in one place who would have no reason or occasion to meet in real life. It wasn't an unpleasant dream, but I woke up with a bittersweet feeling that I couldn't quite explain.

I think that intense vivid dreams take up a lot of psychic energy, because I always wake up feeling tired and not very well-rested. But on to my practice. The first part of the practice, as I mentioned, felt like pulling a dead cow through very heavy mud. My body wasn't stiff. It just felt heavy and sluggish, and it didn't feel like the bandhas were powering the practice as efficiently as I would like them to. In addition, my SI joints were acting up a little too. At several points in the practice, I thought of just getting up and going to take a nap. But I kept saying to myself, "One breath at a time, my friend, one breath at a time."

I don't know how I did it, but I somehow made it through the whole of primary. Then I asked myself, "Should I go on to second?" A voice in me said, "Hey, this is enough work for today." But a second voice said, "You made it this far. You may as well do second. And besides, backbends can be good for the SI joint." I listened to the second voice, and went on to second. The funny thing about days when I'm physically tired is that the tiredness seems to spread to the ego as well. As I got closer and closer to kapotasana, there didn't seem to be as much emotional drama as on most other days. At one point, there was this voice that asked, "Are you sure you should be doing kapo today in your present physical state?" But I decided to ignore it, and moved on. I got into kapo. Surprise: I actually grabbed my heels, and the breathing wasn't too bad either. Who knew that a super-low-energy day could actually turn out to be a good kapo day?

I wrapped up the practice after Supta Vajrasana, and went on to backbends. I made a really interesting discovery in dropbacks and standups today. I decided to pay more attention to engaging uddiyana bandha as I was dropping back. I noticed that when I focus on keeping the bandhas engaged, my thighs don't rotate outwards (which translates into my feet not splaying apart). But I have a tendency to let the bandhas go once my hands touch the ground. That's when I tend to kind of just "hang" in the posture, and that's also when my feet start to splay. I can also feel the compression in my lower back (because the bandhas are no longer doing their work). And that's also probably why it takes me so much effort to come back up. Interesting. I wonder why I never noticed all this before. Moral of the story: Got to try to keep the bandhas engaged the whole time. It's never good to just "hang" in a posture. Especially not in a backbend.

I had so much more energy after practice (the dead cow somehow came alive). I'm so glad I made myself go through it. This is the beautiful paradox of the practice: You give out so much energy, and yet get so much more back.        

1 comment:

  1. yes that is a beautiful thing, well put. Also, this is very interesting, i think I tend to get so scared that the bandhas is the last thing i can pay attention to, however it is great you made this great discovery and that the feet stayed closer to parallel and it made things easier... and all in a day in which you considered not even practicing that much!, wow!