Stickin’ with the program

No practice yesterday. I moderated a global focus group–via webconference–so I was at work at 5:30 AM, logging on to meet with our European participants. I hate public speaking, even via web, so I was anxious and woke at 1 AM, worrying, “What if no one talks during the focus group?!?!” I considered, for a moment, getting up and practicing, since I knew I wouldn’t have time in the morning. But it seemed pretty obvious that I would have a practice distracted by worry, and probably a good idea for me just to get some sleep. None of the worrying was necessary in the end, of course. Everything went beautifully. But it was very strange to sit in a conference room at 5:30 AM, feeling all jangly with nerves, really wishing I was at Volleyball Guy’s, practicing with the others. Hmmm, dim, warm room with other people practicing yoga nearby, or fluorescent-lit conference room with disembodied voices via speakerphone? Yeah, pretty hard not to have a preference.

So today back to the mat–my refuge. Good practice–breath seeming to take precedence over bandhas today. It used to happen in zazen, where there appears an empty place between the exhale and the next inhale. A still point. I fell into that little pause after exhale early in my practice this morning, and stayed with it–it is so peaceful and pleasant–until Marichy C, where I fully realized how constricted my breath is in C, and again in D. What can I say about that, though? I can’t imagine it isn’t normal, the constriction, especially for beginners like me. So something to work through.

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that if you cultivate the pause at the end of the exhale, it relaxes the system–and if you cultivate the pause at the end of the inhale, it invigorates the system. Personally, I’m pretty attached to calming practices–but I’ll have to play with the other sometime.


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