This week I have been working on twists both in my own practice and in my classes. In so doing, I have been thinking about the difference between turning around or doing an about-face and staying steady and true to oneself, while truly being open to another perspective.
In order to get into twisted and bound asanas, it is critical to be steady in your place and to use the three self-affirming elements of muscular energy — hugging into the midline, embracing the muscles to the bone, and drawing from the periphery into the focal point — to be able to revolve on the midline and open the heart to a new direction.
The same is true off the mat. If we just flip our position or turn an about-face, we are not grounded or reliable. Inside the beltway, for example, I’ve heard people saying they think McCain and Specter should be voted out of office because it is not clear where they stand. Their positions seem more about expediency than about a steadiness of conviction, coupled with an openness to listen to and work with others with differing views.
Ideally, we want to embrace ourselves, our history, and our nature, and be sufficiently comfortable and secure with ourselves that we can hear others. Even if it feels convoluted or binding to open to true listening, by reaching while staying steady, we can better have compassion and recognize the light and humanity in those with whom we disagree. By doing so, ultimately, just as we create greater strength and flexibility by practicing twists, we experience a greater openness of spirit with respect to ourselves and all around us.
This is a big part of my current practice, and perhaps one of the very hardest. Steadfast commitment to a balance of steadiness and openness makes possible, I think and hope at this point in my practice, radical affirmation of the good in everything.