Sore ass, Substances

Used to be that when I went to the movies, I’d put stuff in my bag. When in college, it was recreational drugs or alcohol; when My Gift was little, it was treats and toys to keep My Gift, and any of her friends who might be joining us, amused. Today, The Cop and I will go see “The Kingdom.” I just snuck a tennis ball past the dog, and packed it in my bag so I can sit on it during the movie. My piriformis — I guess, actually, periformi, since it’s both sides — are killing me. I am assuming this is from kapotasana.

The Sex & the Shala girls have a post about injuries and “openings” on their Ashtanga NY blog. I have heard tell that the part of second I am doing now is famous for pain and despair. I’m trying to go a little easy, but I guess it’s inevitable that there will be some rough spots. Why is it that we persist through the pain? I’m really not sure about this. I do know that any time I had sports injuries, I made it a point to go to a sports doctor, rather than a GP, because the sports doctors explain how to work around or work through injuries, whereas “regular” doctors tell you to knock off what you are doing and look at you like you are crazy (and irresponsible) if you don’t agree to follow their advice.

Luckily, The Cop is a “work through it” kind of guy, too. He’s had various injuries related to various undertakings and knows you can’t just chuck the whole project because there’s some pain. So he hears about my problems, as do my yoga buddies. Not a word, though, to “normal” people — e.g., my family, work folks, etc. It’s just too hard to explain how the advantages of continued practice outweigh any other concerns. Within reasonable limits, of course. When I tore my rotator cuff climbing, I stopped climbing and just did rehab for a few months. I mention that so you understand how reasonable I can be. 😉


Everyone has to knock off the drinking and drugs. That is the new rule. I keep seeing entries from people who are feeling bad about various aspects of their lives, and generally speaking, the entries include mention of substances.

Okay, I can’t make the rules. Seriously, though, it’s something to think about. Here we are, making ourselves sensitive to bodily reality (I’ll leave out spiritual reality, because then the conversation devolves into judgments about how “good” or “enlightened” someone is, and that’s not the point here). Anyhow, here we are, practicing and growing progressively more physically sensitive, and then we ingest substances. Where do we imagine that will go? What’s the purpose? Is it to blunt sensitivity? To mask the despair that can surface when you make a project of, as the monks would say, waking up? Too much chikitsa, so we want to take a few steps back?

I know the yamas are: no killing, no lying, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, and no avarice. I’ve always kind of liked them a little more than the zen rules, because avariciousness seems like a real problem, particularly in Western culture. But there’s something to be said for the zen precepts, which are the same except for one: no killing, no lying, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, and “no intoxicants taken to induce heedlessness.” I think this precept has some interesting subtlety. It makes it clear that substances are not bad in and of themselves, and it isn’t a blanket rule against them. But it does ask people to think about WHY they use intoxicants. Yeah, I know I’m lecturing, but if you are unhappy or ungrounded and you drank or took drugs yesterday (or a few minutes or hours ago), then come on, do the math.


5 Responses

  1. This is a good post!!! Actually don’t some Indian Sadhus still use pot? Or bhang?? I think intoxicants can have a place in life without being too disruptive. In my own case, though, I know I’ve been outing myself because it’s time for a little break, or shift.

    We were talking more on the injuries vs openings topic, both on the way to brunch & during. Ashtangi had such a great summary, I had nothing really to add. Something like, “All openings are also injuries (at the beginning), but all injuries are not openings.”

    In any case, we all go through it and most of us wonder, when we’re past the worst of it, how we kept going. WHAT motivated us to keep on with it? It’s really hard to say. Once you come out the other side though??? It is all worth it. I’m not saying I’m injury / tweak free now, but there is some sort of initial level it seems that most of us have to break through… and that after that things are different.

  2. I was just reading about the sadhus and their hashish (“Blue Eyed Yogi”). Back in the day, people used drugs to open the “doors of perception” as Aldous Huxley called it. The purpose was to open the mind, look at things a new way, etc. Part of opening up. Now, though, drugs seem to be looked on the same way as alcohol: perfectly fine for general purposeless consumption. A way to zone out instead of tune in.

    Actually I really hate the way our society pushes alcohol and looks the other way when it adversely affects people. The Cop says that 99.9% of the domestic violence/family incidents he deals with are fueled by alcohol. People need to understand that alcohol is big business, and more interested in making money than benefitting people’s lives.

    Blah blah, I know. I was just really struck this morning, as I read blogs, that so many people seem to be suffering to one degree or another, and many of them are talking about how their habits are part of the problem. We’re dissolving our physical samskaras with practice — need to include ALL of our samskaras, though…

    As far as injuries/pain go: I have no idea what kept me going through the traditional primary series hamstring insert problems — I remember sitting on ice every morning before practice. First the right hammie went bad, then got a little better, then the left pooped out, and it was almost a year before the pain went away. I wonder why it never occurred to me to stop! I hope whatever it was, though, sticks with me through second…

  3. Hi Karen
    You make some important points. By the way, yesterday during a workshop which I hope to write notes on within a week I revealed to one of my fellow practitioners my name for her in my blog. I told her you were my inspiration for the idea. She loves her name and asked me for the names that I’ve given others in our group. We had a lot of fun with my mentioning those. It seems that although we may not talk a lot with each other, because we practice daily with each other, we seem to know a lot about each other’s personality. We admire qualities we see in others – strength, good naturedness, steadfastness, humor, etc. Anyway, I have been reading some blogs along the lines of what you mentioned. Some are quite funny, if a bit crazy. I learned a lot about leg behind the head poses in the workshop, so I hope to share some insights from it.

  4. Ah, persistent injuries. The broken and re-broken thumb on my “money hand.” The always-broken big toe that no longer bends. The cranked neck. Good times.

    I have no problem with what folks choose to do in privacy. You have to ask yourself, however, what you’re trying to drown out with dope or booze. Hard to walk the middle path when you’re soused. Still everyone has to find their own way.

    It’s when the boozing and doping is in public that it becomes a social issue and enters my professional radar. The vast, vast majority of people I deal with are drunk or stoned (or both … or both and crazy to boot). It’s tiresome and difficult to be patient with. But it certainly does paint a vivid portrait of how my own path should look. And there’ s nothing like job security …

  5. Hi Karen
    If I might add, to the Cop, it’s when those same stone people and the purveyors of their drugs start getting aggressive that they do crazy things such as the shootings that have occurred in front of both apartments I’ve live in here. It doesn’t matter that the police station is 2 blocks away, these people are brazen. I don’t know how it is in your city – I image it is more sedate since this is a congested urban environment. But it is still a national problem – the drug use and the drug dealing.

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