Still breathing

Check this out. From Path of Fire and Light, by Swami Rama:

All phenomena are said to be motion or vibration. This implies something to vibrate — a medium or vehicle. Motion has as its constituent parts motion and pause, for where one finds motion, one always finds a pause or cessation. These concepts are expressed in Sanskit by the terms shakti, vayu, and karma. Unless these three things are combined, there is no vibration. There must be an impulse (shakti, or energy) that produces motion, a medium of action (vayu), and a force of resistance that restrains motion (karma). The power or impulse behind vayu is shakti, evergy; the obstruction in the path of shakti is karma. Karma produces the pause of vayu. Animation or vibration is effected and affected according to the strength of these factors. If karma is greater, then the pause will be greater, and the motion will be less. If one sets his mind to a task but the circumstances prevent it, then karma is stronger than shakti or vayu.

I read this in relation to my thoughts yesterday about the slight resistance to pranayama practice that I felt. The thought to practice arose, and there was a slight resistance. Quite like the resistance that arises when I think to sit in zazen, and the resistance that I’ve overcome when it comes to asana practice.

Okay, so shakti is the impulse to practice. Vayu is what I think of as “me” (perhaps equivalent to prakriti?). And karma is what can blunt or thwart the impulse. This is fascinating, given my favorite zen monk definition of karma: the habits of the mind. Whether you think these habits of your mind come from one or many lifetimes is irrelevant. The deal is that the subtleties of the mind can divert or even stop the impulse, the shakti.

This has direct implications when I think about the creative process, too. There is an impulse to write, and it travels the same pathways as the impulse to practice pranayama or asana. I’ve pretty much seen writing as a practice since I was about 20, so that’s not really news. But still, interesting to see the parallels yet again.

This has some interesting implications for The Cop, too. We talk about his practices, which are more warrior-like than mine. More Bhagavad Gita-inspired. I guess my yoga is more dhyana — all about meditating to realize true nature. His, on the other hand, is more karma yoga — more driven by doing one’s duties without concern of results.

He’s with the tactical unit today, ready to respond if there are any problems related to the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy. Let’s hope his squad, and all police, have no incidents today.

Okay, so the impulse of shakti drives the prakriti to practice, which can recalibrate the habits (karma). This is how practice burns karma! I’ve heard this concept for ages, that practice burns your karma, but I never quite got it. Practice changes the habits of your mind; impulse, put into action via the self, alters the deepest habits of consciousness.

I guess that’s kind of a duh! realization. But it pleases me nonetheless.

Pranayama practice this morning moved from impulse to practice to one-step-closer-to-a-regular-habit. It’s extraordinarily pleasant — though I don’t know that I would have been able to feel it without the previous couple of years of Ashtanga practice. The little grasp I have on bandhas is quite useful, and my spine has certainly been sensitized by asana practice. All in all, a good set-up for these simple pranayama practices.

Next Wednesday is two weeks since surgery. I will start back a teeny bit to asana practice then. Figure I’ll start at dandasana and just work within the sequence to marichyasana D, without the vinyasas, and without dipping my head lower than my heart. Just to move into the shapes a bit, and to stretch out some, and to feel where I’m at after this layoff.

And then I have to figure out how to proceed with/integrate the pranayama practice. Which has been a wonderful little surprise in the midst of an enforced vacation.

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One Response

  1. Karen, I love this post. what I mean is I love all your posts; I’ve just never written it down before. Thanks, Robbie Eeyore

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