Connoisseurship

Put on the shuffle and practiced to Sharath’s primary led.

The pace prompts a quick, light breath. No time for luxurious ujjayi breaths.

“Connoisseur of the breath.” Where did I hear that? I wondered. It seemed contradictory to the practice I was doing with the CD. It was Richard Freeman, I think. Not that it’s his fault I’ve fetishized the breath, that I’ve overemphasized it, or used it to self-medicate.

No matter where the idea came from, this morning’s practice shook me awake to the fact that I’ve been a bit too much of a connoisseur of the breath. At the expense of the light energy of the practice. Seriously, when I think about it a bit, I realize I’ve been hypnotizing myself by getting so deep into the breath.

This is something I tend to wonder about with meditation: where’s the line between dhyana and just-zoning-out? I have a tendency to be absorbed in experiences, to be able to withdraw my senses — so I have to look out for overdoing it. For being too much of a connoisseur. Like people who make such a freaking big deal about the way something tastes that you want to scream and run away.

I’ve made my internal practice rather baroque with my own ideas about it. Instead of the plain old practice itself.

And definitely gotten carried away with progressing. Had a vision of my recent practice: hypnotizing myself through primary and then striving for the intermediate section.

Uh oh. No wonder I’ve been feeling so off-balance and disconnected.

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3 Responses

  1. You’ve obviously been practicing a lot longer than me to be at this place with the breath. I have had to work at slowing mine down, I guess I’m naturally a fast breather. So when I practice with Sharath’s cd, I keep my breath slow and end up doing only three breaths in each pose. I feel my breath is still not where I want it to be (not slow and even enough), so I don’t want to speed it up to be in line with his counting.

    Seems like you had a breakthrough with these perceptions, though (esp. hypnotizing and striving).

  2. It’s only been 2 years. I am also a naturally fast breather — but apparently I have slowed down a LOT, perhaps from Mysore practice. It is the custom in my shala for people to breathe really long, slow breaths, and I was astonished, today when I practiced with the CD, to find that I have slowed down so much. The pace of the CD was how I used to breathe — so imagine my surprise today when I was getting three breaths in on five of Sharath’s counts.

    I don’t think it’s a particularly big deal, whether one breathes fast or slow. But I did have to wonder about the hypnotism aspect of how I’ve altered my breathing.

    And as far as the striving goes — I tend to have vivid insights, but then go back to the habits (or karma, I suppose). So there’s practice there, too — to try to keep awareness of the insights.

  3. I know what you mean on the hypnotism side. I try to inhabit each pose, so I’m not just going through the motions, which could lead to that effect. Driste helps, too.

    Yeah, my wonderful insights seem to fade into the distance with time (and that time seems to be getting shorter and shorter. They seem so important when I have them, then they’re gone. Oh well. Maybe there’s some benefit to the realizations even if we forget them.

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