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Feb 28
2018

The Layers

The Layers

Don’t push or chase after change. Change is always happening anyways….to you and all the objects/humans/celestial bodies around you. Impermanence is an immutable law that is impossible to avoid. Your JOB isn’t to chase the yogic transformation from ignorance (Avidya) to wisdom (Prajna) per say. Your JOB is to wake up to the layer that you are already inhabiting and dwell there fully with all your loving awareness. When you lean into your boundaries or limitations without blowing past them or avoiding them, something very interesting happens. Psychologically speaking, its like allowing a toddler to tantrum in your arms with out forcing them to stop or move forward. When you acknowledge the suffering with out trying to change it, it changes on its own. This suggestion is fairly difficult to implement in daily life when dealing with yourself if you don’t have a formal practice to help you understand the concept directly through the body.

The practice of yoga; asana(postures), pranayama(breathing exercises), and seated meditation are designed to help us work with our boundaries, physical and otherwise.

“Work from your layer….don’t skip ahead!”
I call this out repeatedly in the Mission Yoga classroom. It is common for us both on and off the mat to get caught in outward appearances. We let the external perception drive the internal experience and usually we do things that aren’t really aligned at all. When you chase advancement in the physical postures you often end up loading your joints in a misaligned and disembodied way that burns calories but eventually leads to injuries. I’m not suggesting that you should only practice gentle asana at all. The work is in going slow enough to discern your boundaries and to practice with them in sight. Being in your layer means you find your first edge (it is more subtle and nuanced than it seems) and wait there until you become comfortable. Then a natural transition into the next available layer occurs without unnecessary force or wasted energy.

A simple postural example is wide leg fold. I can take my legs wide and tip my torso till my forehead is on the ground. But if I’m honest, I can feel my first layer of stretch before my forearms are even down. If I sit in my first layer I can feel when the tissue that is resistant lets out and then I move again. The power is in the backing up, resting in, and responding rather than demanding. You have to ask yourself, where am I within the posture instead of how do I fit myself into the shape.

I must admit that my paradigm is that of the feminine intelligence of Yin that our culture is sorely lacking. The Yin way is only half of the conversation but it is the half that doesn’t get enough airtime in the world of Modern Postural Yoga. Waiting and listening as a practice fosters skillful action in our bodies and the world. All you have to do is live in, and grow through, the layers right there in your body/heart/mind. Transformation is a guarantee.

Good luck,
KJ

The Layers
BY STANLEY KUNITZ
I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

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