I know I’ve written before about disliking finishing poses. I’m not quite sure why I dislike them so much, but there’s a good chance that it’s in part because shoulderstand is my least favorite pose of all time. Why? Who knows. I love sirsasana, which is considered “the king” of asanas, but I hate sarvangasana, which is supposedly “the queen.” Oh well. I am a well-behaved Ashtangi (for the most part 😉 so I dutifully perform my sarvangasana.

And somehow, despite my aversion, today’s practice had some nice moments in finishing. For one thing, in headstand, Volleyball Guy has been having me keep my legs straight and lower my feet to touch my toes to the mat, then go back up. Five times. Sometimes it feels difficult, and sometimes it feels easy. Depending on whether I am thinking about it, whether I am expecting it to be difficult. Today I was totally in the zone: sirsana is the easiest place in the whole practice for me to meditate, and I watched my feet drop down and touch the mat and float back up, and it was all kind of amazing and yet totally normal.

A long time ago, someone asked a great Zen master, “Is attaining our true self very difficult?”

The Zen master replied, “Yah, very difficult!”

Later someone asked the same Zen master, “Is attaining our true self very easy?”

“Yah, it’s very easy!”

Some other people asked him, “Is attaining our true self very easy or very difficult?”

The Zen master replied, “Yah, it’s very difficult, and also very easy.”

The Compass of Zen, by Zen Master Seung Sahn

This isn’t about “fooling” your mind. It isn’t about auto-hypnosis or suggestibility. This is about the nature of reality. Like most Zen, it’s more profound than it sounds, and also silly to even talk about.

The other fun thing was urdhva padmasana. Usually I just do what I like to think of as “the footie prayer thing,” instead of attempting the padmasana. Why? I dunno. Habit, I guess. I can do padmasana right side up, no problem–but I’ve made some lame attempts to fold my legs in shoulderstand, and just kind of figured I’d have to wait for that to be possible (okay, yeah, I’m a total finishing pose slacker). Today I looked in John Scott’s book, to check on a detail of another pose, and I saw him in urdhva padmasana, using one hand to fold the right leg, then the other hand to fold the left–all the while supporting himself in the shoulderstand. I gave it a shot, and it was so simple I felt like a dork for never thinking to use my hands. Duh.

I try to both pick my battles and not get overly attached to poses or details of poses (a contradictory and yet delightful process 😉 so I guess it’s bound to happen that I am trying too hard on some things and missing the boat entirely on others that I could do, if only I even tried. Do I feel bad about that? No. It makes practice seem like a scavenger hunt of sorts–there’s stuff in there that’s going to be very hard to find, and other things that I’ll just stumble across and be happy about. It cracks me up. I can grind away at practice day after day, and there are moments of great joy and moments of “Duh! Why didn’t I ever think of that!”

It’s very difficult and it’s very easy.


2 Responses

  1. You know what, I hate shoulderstand too…I can’t find any comfort in that posture – probably why I should do it more. I love headstand too by the way!

  2. Great post. It’s sooo true. The more you think about how hard something is to achieve, the longer it will take you to get there. There’ve been times when I’ve struggled to get into certain poses without succeeding, and then got them the exact day I decided to give it up. “Fearasana”, some have called it.

    I love both Sarvangasana and Sirsasana. Not that they were easy to achieve for me, but there are others I don’t like nearly as much as those (Bhujapidasana, for example – but that’s because it seems impossible right now).

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