Yoga and the nature of experience

Coldplay at practice this morning. Very nice.


The tyranny of success. It breeds a belief that we can bend everything to our personal will. Dangerous place to go. And God forbid, we use our practice to shore up that delusion.

In practice, in those “successful” poses, the ones that are easy or that you can zip through, there can be spots of blurriness, where you kind of gloss over the moment(s) of the pose — where your consciousness is working to avoid experiencing the pose, to avoid experiencing any difficulty or lack of ease or even any difference from yesterday’s practice. Yikes! I thought it was the difficult poses, the impossible poses, I was trying to solve for. Turns out it may be the successful ones that are most insidious…

All I have to do is wake up, right? Experience where I am now. Don’t gloss over the moment with “success,” or “I’ve got this one,” or what I want, or a sense of mastery.

Dealing with other humans makes for a great practice: there is an impulse to have mastery over one’s experience, to “know” the other person (always an illusion), or insist they do what you want (even if it’s an unspoken, passive kind of insistence). These are great ways to avoid actually experiencing another person, a great way to dissociate yourself from the moment. And as with people, so with asanas.

Repetition certainly can exacerbate this impulse. I had this fleeting vision in practice this morning, of a series that is simultaneous — that transcends the sequential. In the meantime, though, I guess I’ll just try to work my way past the tendency to inject a sense of mastery into life by gaming the fact of routine. That routine — it looks like mastery on the outside, but it’s just a glossing over, a closing down, an avoiding.

Be here now.

Put everything down.

Stop fussing about ME. (Gah! The tyranny of ME! How tedious that little show is.)

Right or wrong is never the point. Good and bad are never the point. Getting through the moment “successfully” is never the point.

Being present. Yeah, that’s it.


8 Responses

  1. The problem is, we love the drama! We might claim we hate it, moan about how miserable we are because of our problems, say out loud that we want to be content, but…we are addicted to the drama. The thrill, the chase, the dissatisfaction.

  2. Definitely something to meditate on, eh? Really, I suppose that’s the spirit of santosha: cultivating contentment. Making that the habit. Very interesting to think about…

  3. well said.

    it’s another beautiful irony of yoga that we are attempting to unleash ourselves from the shackles of our senses and yet it’s important that we get out of our heads and into our senses when we’re on the mat!

    that’s why I agree with ol’ svatmarama that hatha yoga is a preparation for raja yoga!

  4. Hi dzm.
    If you’re referring to my great friend Susan then (as usually) you’re mistaken. 🙂 There are (my own) reasons why I’ve stopped commenting on her blog. But she is noticed on two occasions. I’m claiming her for myself. [Susan ;)]


    (this is my last comment to you dzm… stay well)

  5. Hey Cody,

    I’m gonna check out Ol Svatmarama — sounds like he’s on to something!

    Hi Zee,

    Not sure what you mean about Susan, but she wasn’t in my thoughts when I wrote this.

    See ya!

  6. hey zee…when I was a kid at sleep-a-way camp we used to pin two paper plates together. The outer plate would list the daily chores (sweep bunk, take out trash, etc.) and the inner plate would list the camper’s names. It was a system that made sure that the crappy chores were rotated equally. Do you use a similar system for commenting on blogs? 🙂

    hi karen:

    you can order the HYP, GS & SS at amazon (i prefer to have hard copies and don’t mind paying) or you can read ’em direct from the publisher here:

  7. Hey, I didn’t realize Svatmarama is HYP! Duh! I have a different translation. Very eager to check out this one, though.

  8. Oh, dzm, this is so well put! I’m so totally amazed how good you are at expressing these thoughts! This is certainly a post I will come back to many a time and reflect upon 🙂

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