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1. Trikoasana is an asana that I feel I have experienced significant change in my practice with. It stood out as a particularly challenging asana for me to both enter into and sustain in the beginning stages of my practice. I believe this is because it evoked a strong physical sensation of pain accompanied by a previously unexperienced muscular movement in my side body. This physical pain signal and movement (similar to when you displace something if you’re double jointed) was quickly perceived and accepted by my mind (conflated with Soul) as ‘something being seriously wrong’ (fear, worry) that needed to be rectified through cessation of the action.
On one level, I could see through the modelling provided by my teacher, that it was possible to achieve a level of ‘calm’ or vairagya in Trikoasana (that I now recognise as being characteristic of their own intense and/or supremely intense Sadhaka level), but this felt very far away from my experience at the time. It made me curious as to why certain asanas, like Trikonasana, ‘triggered’ this fear-worry response and belief in the ‘impossibility’ of its undertaking to a much greater extent than other asanas. This prompted me to enquire more systematically into what was and was not generalisable across my different experiences with the asanas.
I came to understand that, depending on their level of difficulty, the different asanas were automatically prompting the reliance on using different modes of perception (either physical (e.g., intensity), emotional (fear-worry), or mental (e.g., judgements/evaluations) that strongly coloured the ‘truthfulness’ of my evaluation of the experience. What was physically painful in one asana was not in another; what was emotionally or mentally painful in one was, likewise, not for another. This made me realise that the perceived ‘starting point’ or idea around ‘success’ and ‘ease’ was different across each asana. I became much more conscious of my eagerness to push in some asana and to be tentative in others. In some ways this type of insight was not new to me, as I had come to my yoga practice with a previous, long-standing practice in martial arts. However, the key difference between my yoga and martial arts experiences was that the latter asked their practitioners to overcome these signals by pure force via going into a ‘warrior-will mode’ that could only be cultivated and sustained in and of itself. I felt that this approached created two-selves, as opposed to promoting integration and unification of all aspects of oneself.
I drew greatly on this systematic enquiry, as well as insights from another personal practice (meditation) I had been developing in the decade prior to starting on this specific path of yoga to attempt to consciously bring an intent of watching myself for ‘illusion’. When toe-ing the line of challenging the different ‘illusions’ that presented themselves, I tried to seek the place of surrender learned, in part, from my meditation practice to calm the different layers of my bodies in the developmental journey of this asana, as well as those asana that are new (learning definitely triggers an influx of sensations to be distilled) and continue to challenge me in various ways and on various days.
2. For me, I understand desire as a force that resides in all of us. This force can drive us towards escapism, from pain, into the world of illusion. I see desire as almost like a living entity that can be ‘fed’ by us – either consciously and unconsciously. On a physical, emotional and mental level, this might mean avoiding what is painful or uncomfortable and instead, seeking pleasure or positive sensations in its place. From considering our interpersonal-societal context, I feel that this can be most harmful at the mental level because it means that many of us are fallible to creating our own realities that may sit very far from objective truth. For this reason, I do not see desire as a positive attribute unless the underlying intent is consciously transformed. For example, one can have a desire to accomplish certain asana, but this may be, consciously or unconsciously, driven by a mix of self-serving purposes (impressing others; Ego-I) and evolutionary or generative purposes (studying self, teacher others). I think our role as Sadhakas is to purify our intent, which is why there is a focus on keeping away from desires. In this sense, it’s this negative aspect that comes part and parcel with our desires that we have to learn to discriminate in our daily practice and lives.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Jennifer M.