The other day was very windy–steady winds of 20-25 miles per hour and gusts of up to 30-40 miles per hour. I needed to go to work, so I had no choice about which direction to walk. That direction was, unfortunately, straight into the wind. It made the already cold day feel much colder, and I felt like I needed brute strength just to move forward. Knowing that I did not have the option of turning the other way to feel warmer and have the wind push me along, I instead consciously softened and leaned into the wind so that I was fighting it less and able to ride it a little.
I was moved by facing the wind to think about the various yoga practices and how they help us understand and be with the force that connects and moves around and between things, without and within us–prana.
When we meditate, the intention is to be in either absolute fullness (purna) or absolute emptiness (sunyata). (I don’t think it matters which one). In the absolute stillness of meditation, prana does not flow, and we experience being in a state where we are not tugged at or blown by the forces of change and relationship between object and beings. Being able to tap into that state is essential, I think, to be able to weather the times when the energies around us are too much of a whirl for whatever reason.
When we practice pranayama (breathing practices), we learn about the many ways prana flows. Although pranayama is often translated as breath control, I think it is more about learning to control our physical and mental relationship to the breath than it is about controlling the breath–the breath serving as the best proxy for us to experience the flow of the life force, prana itself. Learning how to be more intimate with the subtle energies helps make us more humble, more aware, and more skillful in relationship to the world around us.
When we practice asana (postures), we practice dancing with and riding the prana so that we do not have to do everything by rigid physical and mental effort. With steady, educated and discerning practice of asana, we can move with more power and grace and less effort and risk of injury, just as a skilled sailor knows how to align her or his sails both to be able to move when there is just a bit of wind and also to ride out a gale, harnessing the wind instead of being torn up by it.
To those of you facing the blizzard, may you find time to be still and warm and at peace and use skill in alignment to stay safe when clearing out from the snow and moving from place to place.
Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.