Massage (dramatic version)

…and then I imagined her thumbs piercing my ribcage and plunging through my heart…


Grammarians, Darsana, Puppies

More from The Philosophy of the Grammarians:

The goal of the Indian Grammarians’ philosophy, which we here call vyakarana, is not mere intellectual knowledge, but direct experience of ultimate truth. Knowledge of grammar resulting in correct speech not only conveys meaning but also enables one to “see” reality. This is the philosophical meaning of the Indian term darsana, which literally means “sight.” It is this feature that sets Indian philosophy apart from modern western perspectives on language. Vyakarana not only addresses itself to the analysis of grammatical rules (though it is certainly important) or to theorizing about the way speech conveys meaning (though that too is achieved), it also insists that one should not be satisfied with mere intellectual conviction but should transform that conviction into direct experience.

There is one aspect of traditional Indian philosophy of language that must be understood by the modern reader. Whereas the contemporary writer often thinks in terms of using language creatively, that is, to create something “original” or “new,” the vyakarana conception is quite different. The correct or insightful use of language is not seen as conveying new knowledge, but rather as uncovering ancient knowledge that has been obscured due to the accrual of ignorance. The Vedic sage does not produce something new out of his own imagination, but rather relates ordinary things to their forgotten eternal truth.


After much consideration and research, The Cop and I went to visit an American Bulldog breeder out in Queen Creek. A long, long drive out into who knows where brought us to this scene:

Actually, not quite that scene. As you can see in the picture, the pups are in a kiddie pool with carpeting on the bottom. When we went in, their Mom came out to greet us — so what I saw was a pool full of tiny, motionless dog embryos bleached out by the bright light of a heat lamp. Most surreal.

The Mom, Mia, was incredibly friendly and loving — even with her pups right there. (And she has a rocking underbite!) Once she got back in the pool with her babies, they started thrashing about and mewing and dragging themselves across the carpet, blindly making their ways back to her.

We will go back in a few weeks to see the pups and get a clearer idea of their personalities. My first impulse, though, was to like this guy best:

We’ll see what happens when we go back. Ideally, a puppy will pick us. That’s what Maxine did, when The Cop first met her. Of all the puppies in the litter, she was the one who just wouldn’t leave his side.

Hopefully the new pup will bring a little excitement into Maxine’s life, and the pup will benefit from exposure to a great role model like Maxine.

Killing things, but not for food

Killed two things in two days. A black widow last night, a tree today.

The spider was right at the bedroom door — where the dog exits at night for her evening constitutional. She’s too old; a bite would pose a real threat. So the spider had to go. I waited ’til dark, then hunted her down with insecticide. Didn’t feel good to kill her, but I couldn’t very well ask The Cop to relocate her. He’s great about taking crickets and lizards outside, but I think he’d draw the line at moving a black widow to another part of the yard.

Today, death sentence for the tree in the front yard. A tall scraggly bottlebrush. Chopped down by a contractor so we can replace with a mesquite tree. Mesquites are gorgeous.

And my last picture is of dinner. All raw (I love raw “cooking” — perfect for slacker cooks like me!): pesto on zucchini strands (with a sprinkle of quinoa sprouts), and a salad of mushrooms, avocado and kalamata olives. Mmmmm.

Spaced out much?

Thought: “Gee, marichyasana B feels really weird and tight today.”
Realized: “I’m doing marichyasana D.”


Today was one of those really distracted practices. At first I was frustrated because I couldn’t pratyahar (verb form of pratyahara — kidding). Anyhow, I just carried on, distractability and all, and wouldn’t you know? It turned into a pretty interesting practice.

Mostly around the end o’primary roll-up poses: upavistha konasana, supta konasana, ubhaya padangusthasana, urdhva muka paschimottanasana. Usually I blow through those poses pretty exuberantly — rolling, balancing, woohoo!

Today, though, for some reason I realized that there’s more interesting balance to be had if I push forward of the sit bones. I imagined a triangle formed of the sit bones and mula bandha, and then tipped like a gyroscope more toward the mula bandha “point” of the triangle. And the little 3D image in my mind tipped — a sheer triangular plane, a kind of level.

A very cool balance point. Found purely by dint of what could easily have seemed like a less than stellar practice.

Ecology of Human Being in Multidimensional Space

Stumbled across this site in pre-practice reading. Can’t resist posting, as it is astonishly poetic.

The word “pratyahara” means “removing indriyas from material objects.” Pratyahara is the stage at which an adept learns how to control the “tentacles” of consciousness that are called “indriyas” in Sanskrit. This allows him to achieve the ability to see in subtle and the subtlest layers of multidimensional space, as well as to exit of his material body into them and to settle in them, accustoming himself to their subtlety, tenderness and purity.

Concept of indriyas exists only in the Indian spiritual culture. Europeans with their simplified, complicated and degraded religious ideas usually are not capable of grasping this kind of knowledge. Even in translations from Indian languages they substitute the word “indriyas” with the word “senses” that has lost its original meaning; by doing this they completely reject the immense methodological significance of pratyahara concept and of principles of work at this stage.

Europeans translate the term “pratyahara” as “control over the senses.” But senses are not everything that is denoted by the term indriyas, since indriyas include mind as well. It is also essential that the image of “tentacles” evoked by the word “indriyas” provides profound understanding of the principles of functioning of the mind and consciousness, as well as of methods of controlling them.

Krishna presented a fundamental knowledge about working with the indriyas in Bhagavad Gita. He was talking about indriyas of sight, hearing, smell, touch, proprioreception and also about those of mind. And indeed: concentration on an object through any sense organ or with mind is very similar to extending a tentacle to it from one’s body. When we switch concentration to another object we detach and move our indriyas to it. In the same manner the mind creates its own indriyas, when we think about something or someone. People with developed sensitivity can perceive other people’s indriyas touching them. In some cases they can even see those indriyas and therefore they can influence them.

Krishna was saying that one of the things that a man should learn is the ability to draw all his indriyas from the material world inwards, just like a tortoise retracts its paws and head into its shell. Then one should extend one’s indriyas into Divine eons in order to embrace God with them, to draw himself to Him and to merge with Him.

Back to the back

No injury pain this morning, but lots of sensation — less in lumbar and more in thoracic, sternum and psoas. Which is exactly what I was aiming for, though always funny to actually FEEL it — I’d imagined this is what I wanted, but now that I feel it, I am surprised — it being a new sensation and all.

My abandon in the kapo entry and in the pose: thought about it a bit this morning. I was eager, after 8 months of practicing on my own, to have an assist. Threw myself into it. Isn’t there something humorous about this? Poor VBG looked a little stunned, both at my quick, fervent request (“Can I have an adjustment in kapotasana?”) during “play time” when people usually do fun things like handstands and pincha mayurasana, and at my immediate swan dive (backwards though it might have been) into the pose.

So why was that so easy (the abandon)? Duh, because my teacher was there. Because I had the opportunity and wanted to grab it.

There’s something profound in all of this, in relation to the student/teacher relationship, but I’m disinclined — at least at this point — to analyze it too closely.

Definitely, though, this was the biggest “gap” I’ve ever experienced between my mind when I practice by myself and my mind when I practice with a teacher. I built what I did by myself over the past number of months, but I couldn’t deploy it fully until I was under the watchful eye of VBG.


Workshop with Volleyball Guy, just returned from India. He was sitting outside as I walked up the driveway.

“Happy to be back?” I asked.

He’s a traveler — of the Paul Bowles Sheltering Sky variety.

Still, lovely to have him back. And to see the familiar faces of the other Ashtangis who waited inside. Lots of hugs all around.

106 today and we practiced without any air conditioning. Plus, it was noon; I’d had a light breakfast. Ideal conditions for a super open practice. And it was.

Primary and the first third of intermediate. I was psyched to get adjusted in kapotasana. As I went back and over, my upper back felt totally open and stretchy and gooooood, and my lower back felt open and released and… kind of really scary. I talked a little recently about the un-puffy feeling one gets when eating a raw diet. As if there is no padding between muscle and nerve and bone. That is absolutely what my lower back felt like — open and unpadded. And it opened right up on the right side, less on the left. I grabbed the balls of my feet comfortably.

I felt a little shaken afterward, as if I’d been a bit abandoned in my entry. It makes me a bit nervous, the unevenness of the opening, but I don’t think there’s much to be done about it, beyond persevering.