Anyway, there is one thing that Sweeney said at the immersion that really struck a chord with me. Here's how Patrick relates it:
'Later in Q-and-A I would ask about negative stuff (fear, panic) in sitting; I'm used to it by now in asana, but in sitting, I'm not. He [Sweeney] said, "Well, humans have mess; this is entering the mess. But be careful not to turn FEELINGS, which are embodied and quite healthy, into EMOTIONS, which is how the mind ramps up feelings." I liked that. I like the idea of engaging the mess, and I've had this in asana for over two years. And I like this idea that sensation, feeling, is pure and healthy, while EMOTIONS are a sort of conceptualized feeling, the mind ramping up our feelings, sort of exaggerating them. Matthew also made it very clear: KEEP OBSERVING.'
I really think that Sweeney's words really speak to blogging: Isn't blogging (at least my blogging) a process of putting feelings into words, thus conceptualizing them and turning them into emotions? If so, might blogging inadvertently add to my emotional baggage (and by extension, yours, since you are reading this)? Hmm... I wonder if this is why I have consciously or unconsciously been blogging less: Why conceptualize that which does not need to be conceptualized?
But now that I am actually blogging (and conceptualizing) again, the floodgates have been opened, if only temporarily. So I may as well blog and conceptualize some more :-) And actually, I do have something to say about my practice this morning in connection with this. Over the last couple of months, I've noticed that I have come to regard Kapotasana as less and less of a challenging posture. I wasn't sure why this is so. Perhaps it's because the intensity of Kapotasana fades when compared in my mind's eye to Chakrabandhasana, which is what is really pushing me to my limits right now in my practice. This may be true. But this morning, when I was exiting Kapotasana, it suddenly occurred to me that on a purely visceral physical level, Kapotasana is no less challenging than it has always been, even if I have been able to get deeper into the posture with more ease now than, say, a year ago or even half a year ago: I still feel those really intense sensations in my back and in my front body, and it still takes quite a bit of work to steady my breath when I am in the posture. The difference, I realize, is that I tend to hold Kapotasana less tightly in my mind's eye (if this makes any sense); I basically do the posture, feel the intense sensations that it brings up, and then move to the next posture (Supta Vajrasana). Because I hold it less tightly in my mind's eye, there is less of an energetic shading around the posture, and my mind has come to regard it as less of a challenging posture, even if visceral physical intensity of the posture itself hasn't actually changed. This brings us back to what Sweeney was saying: The intense feeling will always be there. But if you conceptualize the feeling and hold it in your mind's eye longer than you have to, the feeling becomes ramped up into an emotion, and acquires an energetic shading all its own. Interesting, no?
I had a bit of a health scare yesterday. Around noon, I was looking closely at myself in the bathroom mirror (yes, I love looking at myself in the mirror :-)) when I noticed a blood-red spot in my eye just below the pupil. That really worried me, so I went online and googled "blood red spot on eye". WebMD then proceeded to inform me that I probably had what is known as a Subjunctival Hemorrhage, a.k.a. bleeding in the eye. F%$k! My eye is bleeding! was my first thought on seeing those words. But then it went on to assure me that in most cases, this is probably quite harmless, and is probably caused by forceful sneezing or coughing or rubbing of the eyes induced by seasonal allergies, and should clear up on its own. This made me feel a little better, but only a little, because I don't really remember sneezing or coughing very hard or rubbing my eyes in the recent past. And besides, trying to self-diagnose something is almost always a bad idea. So I went to my optometrist immediately. They ran a few tests on my eyes (checking eye pressure, etc.) and looked in my eyes with a microscope, after which the optometrist told me, to my great relief, that it really was a seasonal allergy. I could treat it with some eye drops, or simply wait for it to clear up on its own. I chose the latter.
My eyes have always been a source of anxiety to me: I am very near-sighted, and have been near-sighted since the age of eight. I am always very painfully conscious of the fact that if not for two pieces of glass in front of my eyes, my world would be an indistinct, hazy patchwork of color. But after this health scare yesterday, I took a little time to reflect on this condition of mine, and am reminded of the fact that ironically, my being near-sighted has almost certainly saved me from going blind at least twice in my life. The first time was when I was nine. I was playing and running around in a parking lot with my younger brother when I tripped and fell on my face. I landed face-first on a sharp corner of a concrete slab, which impacted my glasses and inflicted a big scratch on the lenses. As you can probably imagine, if I weren't wearing glasses at the time, my eyes would almost certainly have been on the receiving end of that scratch. The second incident happened when I was nineteen and doing my military service (in Singapore, where I was born and grew up, you have to serve in the military for two years after high school if you are a male citizen). On this particular day, a bunch of us in my platoon were doing some work with barb wire: If I remember correctly, we were setting a barb-wire barricade for an exercise. Anyway, this guy in front of me was trying to twist some barb-wire into shape when he lost his grip, and the entire length of wire sprung into my face. Somehow, the wire hit my glasses, and dropped harmlessly to the ground, leaving a big gash on the lenses. None of us thought much of it at the time: We probably even joked about my having an excuse now to go get some cooler-looking glasses from my optometrist, now that my glasses are broken. But a while later, thinking back about it in the quiet of the barracks, I couldn't help noting that if I weren't wearing glasses, I would have gotten a big gash on my eye. And while one can quite easily get new glasses, one can't get new eyes so easily...
So, as ironic and strange as it may be to say this, I have to say that my disability has actually protected me on at least two occasions in my life so far. Perhaps what they say is quite literally true: A disability can sometimes be a gift.