Saturday, December 31, 2011


Wikipedia defines Shradda this way:

Śrāddha (श्राद्ध, shraaddha), Hindu ritual performed for one's ancestors, especially dead parents
Śraddhā (श्रद्धा, shraddhaa), the Sanskrit term for "faith", in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

B.K.S. Iyengar, in his translation of the Yoga Sutra defines it this way:
"trust which comes from revelation, faith, confidence, reverence"

On the cusp of a new year and on the tail of a visit with family, I find myself leaning hard on the practice: shradda.

Occasionally, when I've been jumping into Bakasana B, but not landing it, because I was holding back, not really going for it, my teacher has said to me: "Shradda, Christine. Trust it."

Those are words I remind myself of over and over again. Shradda. Trust it.

There are big risks ahead. There have been days in the past weeks where I felt like I was drowning in uncertainty. Waves of fear and doubt were knocking me over. Doubt voiced by well-meaning people was swamping my confidence to the point where I felt knocked to the beach, eating sand.

A recent post on Deborah's blog touched a nerve as I was reminded that I have the opportunity to explore this relationship with fear, doubt, and trust daily. As she shares from her workshop with David Garrigues, second series is very much about risk-taking. It is not, however, blind risk-taking in a close-your-eyes-and-throw-yourself-over-the-cliff type of risk taking, but rather a practice in walking toward what you know you can do with eyes wide open...even when it scares you more than anything.

Yoga Sutra 1:20 says "Practice must be pursued with trust, confidence, vigour, keen memory and power of absorption to break this spiritual complacency." -Iyengar translation

...and I'm reminded that life, which the practice mirrors, must be pursued in the same way.
Shradda. Trust it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Observation and Clarity

so as of my last posting, I was headed out to a weekend workshop on observation with my teacher and looking for clarity...

After a weekend of seeing myself through others eyes, clarity has been found...if only briefly.

What I observe, or think I observe is a function of the eyes I'm using to to do the seeing.

My teacher and the friend I traveled to the workshop with both have a particular talent for making me feel very loved just as I am...
...with all my eccentricities, odd habits and my tendency to either rant loudly about the things I am most emotional about or not talk at all...a happy medium is not something I do well.

When I look through their eyes, I don't so much see good or bad or loud or quiet, just the complexity inherent in anyone worth getting to know...that is everyone. They've made space for all the idiosyncrasies that I often don't make space for myself.

A friend asked if, after all these years of practice, I had noticed any particular physical changes in my body....was anything different? His hypothesis: you could see differences just from the past couple years of practice in my shoulders.

so I went on a quest to track down some photos and find out...observation time! I started looking at childhood photos, followed it through the teenage years and then looked again at photos taken after about 4 years practice. I was startled. You can read my life in my shoulders...if you're looking...

Childhood: shoulders strong and relaxed...confident
Early high school: shoulders in and down...a sort of miserable hopelessness
Senior year high school: shoulders not as far curled in, but more tense...angry, defiant
After 4 years practice: shoulders stronger, starting to settle into the back, less tension...starting to find a way into balance

It's amazing what I see when I really look.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How to See

I have the feeling that someone has pulled the end of a loose thread and I am starting to unravel...

In the past few days I've tripped over (or walked into?) the edge of the door and left a nice bruise on my foot. I've hit my "funny bone" (what's funny about it, really?) on the top of the car door resulting in my whole hand going numb briefly and an additional lovely bruise. I returned to my bike at the end of the work day on Tuesday to find the back tire flat for the second time in a few days...

Is any of this really a problem...

I've been thinking lately, that really it comes down to what I see and how I see it, clarity or murkiness.

This morning's practice was cold (by Florida standards) but despite that, I reveled in it. I watched thoughts come and I watched them go. I set a pace for the breath and then relaxed into it, finding the feeling of being carried from one pose to the next. I'm content with the challenges that my practice presents at the moment. For the moment, I'm interested and curious about them without fretting about whether I will ever be strong enough to see them change. It's enough to feel the shoulders come alive as I lift and hop in nakrasana and yet know that there is so much more possible.

I'll be spending this weekend with my teacher attending his weekend "Observation Workshop". It's my favorite of all the workshops that he teaches aside from regular Mysore practice with him. He's the only person I know that teaches a workshop entirely focused on how to see. I'll be returning for my fourth round of this workshop...yes it's that good.

...because what I think I know about how things really are often comes down to how I see them.