dying practice

I was woken by outrageous rain at 5:40 this morning. Drowning seemed like a distinct possibility as I sat watching the deluge rush past my window and worried about getting to yoga. In the end, the rain slowed enough and it wasn’t an issue at all! How silly of me.

Practice had its ups and downs. I did okay though; my best moment came right at the end, in savasana. The corpse pose is the easiest, physically — you just lie there. But mentally it’s the hardest for me: I cannot ever get my mind to rest, and I have actually completely abandoned any efforts at focussing my thoughts. Asking an over-thinker, who has multiple voices yelling constantly and simultaneously in her head, to just let go of “any thoughts that enter your mind”? Not going to happen. If I can get it down to one or two voices, I’m pretty pleased with myself. I started yoga 18 months ago and I’ve never had any success with savasana — but nobody can tell from the outside!

The difference today came from how Amanda, during her relaxation talk, dropped words which triggered an unexpected reaction. She pointed out that death is rarely mentioned in our society, and yet it surrounds us constantly. Death is all around us and within us and happening with every breath; the cells of our bodies are dying and being reborn and that is why Shiva is always present. Just like many other in the room I’m sure, I bristled uncomfortably at this talk of death, which must be more taboo than I had acknowledged to myself. I wondered why she was bringing it up in a yoga class relaxation exercise. And then she continued “Savasana is practice for death. Practice letting go of everything, of possessions, of fears, of emotions, of memories and worries.”

And with those words, suddenly I just felt all the voices in my head drop away, far behind me. It was an amazing feeling, and one I can only really compare to a k-hole (in a very unhealthy, un-yoga-like fashion). It probably lasted less than a minute, because I’m not that good at it yet. But I really feel so empowered by the experience; that sensation of complete detachment is something I always crave and have never achieved without… less spiritual means!

It was interesting to come home and read about Kitty’s experience at the German spa in Anna Karenina, where she tries to emulate Varenka’s emotional detachment and dedication to those mysterious things that are important, only to realise that she is only going through the motions and not truly believing, and that by doing so she has set a trap for herself…

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