Moon Day Sit

Moon Day, so I just sat. The Cop got up and walked into the kitchen, asked about practice. He looked disappointed about the Moon Day for a moment, then turned around and went back to bed. The dog was happy ’cause she gets to snooze on the bed with him when I’m not there.

I need to go back and listen to how Richard Freeman characterizes the connection between the upper palate and the pelvic floor in meditation. A great lecture. Available as an audio file on the newly redesigned (and really good looking!) Yoga Workshop site.

Anyhow, as I’m sitting, I curl my tongue up and rest the very tip against the upper palate. Suddenly there is consciousness in the pelvic floor. Oooh, exactly what I heard about from RF on Sunday when I listened to the lecture. I wasn’t looking for the connection this morning — feeling preceded thought, in this case. Nice. Usually I am a “think first, then try to feel” type. So this was a little first-thing-in-the-morning gift.

And of course, as is always, delightfully, the zazen “rule”: no thinking! So just the feeling, and trim the post-feeling thinking.

I did my best, but I was kinda psyched. ๐Ÿ™‚

Half lotus feels perfectly comfortable for 25 minutes. Padmasana is fine, though I don’t usually bother. I’ve ditched the zafu and just stick with the zabuton. Asana practice over the past couple years has certainly made my sitting more comfortable — I am more in my seat than ever — but let me tell you, there is no padmasana like the padmasana at the end of Ashtanga practice. To sit directly into padmasana is kind of like jumping from sun salutations to urdhva dhanurasana — it can be done, but it feels a HECK of a lot better if you have a full practice in before you do the backbends.

So: Are asana practice and zazen the same or different?

Has anyone figured out how to answer a koan online? ๐Ÿ™‚

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15 Responses

  1. Siddhasana is my preferred position for sitting practice, easy to hold for an hour. Hatha Yoga Pradipika gives it a pretty high rating also. I use a small cushion under the sit bones.

  2. Yeah, I generally like siddhasana, too. Or Burmese. Does HYP say left foot in first on siddhasana?

  3. How do you stop thinking? My mind drives me mad it’s so chatty and I can’t stop it. Help!

    cj x

  4. Yeah for me left ankle over right feels best because that correlates to padmasana. HYP says “Place the left ankle above the penis. Put the other ankle above the left foot. Some say this is Siddhasana.” So you could say it’s open to interpretation.

  5. For me, they are entirely different, but I was actually thinking this morning that maybe I should treat the practice more like meditation. Why can I sit for half an hour, letting go of thoughts, yet when I go to practice (alone), my mind takes over? Why do I let it?

    I can’t sit in padmasana comfortably unless I’ve done at least a few poses, it’s just too uncomfortable on the knees. I sit in a chair for meditation because I always meditate before practice, not after.

  6. From alt.zen

    “Do not concentrate on any particular object or attempt to control thoughts, emotions, or any modification of consciousness. By simply maintaining proper posture and breathing the mind settles by itself without fabrication. When thoughts, feelings, etc., arise, do not get caught up by them or fight them. Simply permit any object of mind to come and go freely. The essential point is to always strive to wake up from distraction (thoughts, emotions, images, etc.) or dullness and drowsiness. Letting go of any thought is itself thinking non thinking.”

    ๐Ÿ™‚ So, as in all things, it’s all about practice, practice, practice.

  7. JLF, the “left ankle above the penis” command is posing problems for me.

  8. Hi Karen
    Asana practice leads to the quieting of the mind. Sitting zazen may help your mind to become still, but it’s about sitting, not about resting the mind.
    Cheers, Arturo

  9. Maybe that command is a koan?

  10. Ok, ok, there is no difference between asana practice and zazen.

    It is extremely difficult for me to admit that Cody was right ;). It is almost like heart transplant surgery for me. However, I realized that by putting the equal sign between asanas and zazen, indeed, permits controlled excision of the recipientโ€™s heart, easy access for conversion and establishment of the standard for ascending aorta.. and all that, minimizing the donor graft anoxia time.

    Now, with my new โ€œtransparentโ€ heart, I could freely agree with Inside Owl, that gloriously smart and beautiful student of useless subjects that she is right too. Patanjali should be taken in a new light without mythical old translations.

  11. I take back anything and everything bad that I ever said or thought about you, Zee.

    I LOVE ZEE!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I suppose I’m not practicing Zen meditation, but in the classes I took , we were told not to fight the thoughts, to let them come and go. Usually, I am not conscious of having to let go of them as it naturally occurs (but not always).

    So I was thinking, why don’t I look at yoga as a sort of meditation? If I had that mindset, maybe I wouldn’t have so much trouble practicing alone. Richard Freeman says if you’re mentally struggling with this or that, return to the breath. The breath is then like a mantra in the sense that coming back to it can ease up the thinking.

    Oh, I don’t know. As you say, practice, practice, practice.

    By the way, I was trying to find on your blog where you had talked about using the wall to practice dropping back into backbends, but I can’t find it. Are you still doing this? I tried it yesterday, but wasn’t sure how far from the wall I should be and how far down I should be before my hands hit the wall. Hey—how about posting a video! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Zen and the art of flower arranging.

    Or the art of tea ceremony.

    Or the art of asana?

    I am thinking that zen and ashtanga CAN be very different. But in many ways, and under certain conditions, ashtanga is open to being infused with zen. To *being* zen.

    Maybe. But I am zenophobic. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not really… just zen-ignorant!

  14. In the end, sitting is like practicing yoga — if you just do it, it eventually works itself out, regardless how you think about it or torture yourself in the interim. So probably anything we think about what we’re doing should just be considered an entertainment of our minds. Just practicing, no matter what (no matter what we think or what happens while we do it), is probably the way to go.

    I haven’t been practicing dropping back at all. My latest idea is that if I can walk my hands close enough to my feet, I will come up, and THEN I can go back. But I’m sure that idea will change soon, too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Here’s a great rule-of-thumb though: Volleyball Guy had me sit with my back against the wall where I was going to drop back. Extend legs out straight. Now keeping your feet where they are, stand up and you’ll be right about where you need to be for a wall dropback. Try one and then you might find you need to shuffle your feet a teeny bit further away from the wall, but the little trick puts you pretty much where you need to be.

    I’ll make a video of it soon!

  15. Yes! That is the best reminder for me—just practice.

    Thanks for the rule of thumb. My feet were too close to the wall yesterday. I was afraid of starting out too far and crashing. You’re right, walking the hands in is the most important part. I don’t have enough of a bend in my back to drop back on my own (or stand up). Impatience is not helpful!

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