Close with animals

There are so many reasons I am grateful to yoga, its study and practice, the students and teachers I learn from. They include less physical pain, easier breathing, healthier digestion, better sleep, happier relationships and more joy.

Topping them all is a greater intimacy with the natural world.

Practically, improved balance and proprioception (essentially body awareness) allow me to enjoy hiking more. A couple of years ago when I slipped on a slick rock and took a tumble in the Yuba River I escaped with no more than a gash on the chin. I attribute that to falling fluidly. I’d had some bad falls in my twenties, including mild concussions. Slipping in and out of equilibrium as we do in asana has helped me cooperate with gravity. (I’m six foot one, so when I fall it’s a long way down.)

On a more cryptic level, being at ease generally, a result of millions of practice moments in breath and meditation, and a resulting ability to listen and still, has brought me into a greater intimacy with the non-human world than I could have hoped for as a little girl observing ants at Folger Park on D.C.’s Capitol Hill, stepping outside on a summer night to count the little brown bats catching mosquitoes under street lamps, crawling through the dewey grass with Jeoffry the tabby cat, or sleeping on the linoleum floor, my head resting on the soft side of the family dog.

I believe the ability to feel intimacy with the natural world–not just appreciation–is as important as policy in protecting what sustains us: air, water, open space.

Images I offer students derive from the animal body, from the movement of wind and water.

(Naomi Klein mentions the value of such imaginings in this interview.)

Trailhead lessons put new meaning in the notion of “grounding.”

So when I heard these stories on NPR, I was moved to tears. They include accounts of Laurel Braitman arranging concerts for wolves and Judy Collins describing the first time she heard whale song. Alexandra Horowitz weighs in with common sense.

E.O. Wilson calls for setting aside half the planet as permanently protected area, linked expanses.

This Smithsonian story tells more.

Maybe the answer is to surrender to interconnection/intraconnection. Union? Yoga.

To cultivate both wonder and stillness.

How wonder and stillness come together.

More on staying calm and keeping still.

Be well.

come to mind/come to cloud

“Imagination is in the present,” says Marie Ponsot to City Lights.

Marie Ponsot, poem-maker.

I believe this is because imagining–although it takes place within the small space of the cranium–is a physical act, as an image is formed. 

Teaching and practicing poetry and yoga, I’ve seen just how physical poems are, and how intensified by the figurative asana and meditation can be. Offer up an effective metaphor and a yoga student slips into new awareness of the body. Generate a vivid image and a reader is visibly moved.

In Ponsot’s poem “For Denis at Ten,” in Easy, a boy is sent to the brook beyond the pasture to collect watercress. He sets off on the errand whistling. The poem concludes when the speaker says,

                Nothing reminds him of something.

He sees what is there to see.

Seeing what there is to see.

Hearing what there is to hear.

Tasting what there is to taste.

Smelling what there is to smell.

Sensing what there is to touch.

Feeling what there is to feel.

Experiencing. Directly.

“The direct experience of what?,”  writes Trappist monk Thomas Merton In Zen and the Birds of Appetite. “Life itself.”

An essayist, Merton puzzles out ideas on the page. “I believe,” he concludes, “Zen has much to say not only to a Christian, but also to a modern man.”

Seeking the authentic in creative and spiritual encounters, he traveled, studied, worked, contemplated, conversed and stilled. Of Zen,

It is nondoctrinal, concrete, direct, existential, and seeks above all to come to grips with life itself, not with ideas about life, still less with party platforms in politics, religion, science or anything else.

As a poet, Ponsot logs direct experience in the recreation of recollection.

Could a moment be inhabited as an eternal present?

This is not enlightenment but another offshoot of the tree of experience–imagination.

In “This Bridge, like Poetry, is Vertigo,” Ponsot writes,

Late at night when my outdoors is

indoors, I picture clouds again:

Come to mind, cloud.

Come to cloud, mind.

Any activity can be termed meditative that fastens us like a seat belt to the present. You spot it in people in motion, stacking wood, running, cooking, whittling, crocheting. It happens when listening to music, painting, reading.

Louise Rosenblatt identified the transactional quality of a reader’s response to literature. Many of us believe this imaginative engagement fosters empathy.

In decades of teaching, I’ve experienced a handful of minutes when the close attention of a reader to a marvelous text creates a third thing, when the abracadabra of words manifests.

Could empathy be another offshoot of engaged experience?

As effective as words can be for straddling fissures among us, we cannot become too attached to them. Words displace silence. They can disrupt experience. We’ve all been jarred out of moments, distracted, by a companion’s well-intended comment.

Words remain intermediaries.

Merton writes,

The Zen experience is a direct grasp of the unity of the invisible and the visible, the noumenal and the phenomenal, or, if you prefer, an experiential realization that any such division is bound to be pure imagination.

In a somatic workshop I attended this month on the vagus nerve, Lauren Wadsworth suggested walking barefoot on a variety of surfaces. Even inside, contrasting textures of rugs, linoleum, tile and wood provide information.

I’ve noticed my city dog is happiest when our walk traverses varied substrates–fallen leaves, puddles, mud, and, back inside, the thickly carpeted hallways of our building.

My chair yoga students slide soles of their feet along the carpet and place them on chair rungs. They write the alphabet in the air with their toes. JoAnn Lyons, who specializes in teaching yoga to people with disabilities, says moving the feet benefits the heart.

The wandering vagus nerve, “nerve of compassion.”

We experimented, in the workshop, held in a sunny tenth floor apartment, with humming and moving, sensing internal spaces and external. Wadsworth pointed out that “gravity is a force of belonging.”

This gravitational belonging is being at home on our precious planet through presence.

For me, it happens when I am absorbed in yoga practice, playfully attuned with my pooch, arrested by beauty, gripped by pathos, aligned with a friend, engrossed in work, captivated by wonder, snagged by an idea, participating in life.

It’s when breathing with an awareness of how precious earth’s atmosphere is.

How does this happen for you?

Merton’s embrace of the tree of experience is encompassing. He writes,

Both Buddhism and Christianity are alike in making use of ordinary everyday human existence as material for radical transformation of consciousness. Since ordinary human experience is full of confusion and suffering, then obviously one will make good use of both of these in order to transform one’s awareness and one’s understanding, and to go beyond both to attain “wisdom” in love.

I offer a potential formula.

[knowledge ÷ experience]  + [(compassion) (love)] = wisdom ≈ intuition

 

Yoga’s relevance

When I worked as a poetry teacher in a maximum security prison, one of the inmates pointedly asked me, “What’s the responsibility of a poet?”

While mulling a response over the next few months, I admitted to myself that as compelled as one feels to write poems, no one is obligated to read them. In an increasingly time-pressed world, it is a bit of an imposition to expect them to.

Jane Hirshfield has said that poetry is not practical. This is true.

A man approached me one night after a poetry reading and said my poems were nice enough, but I should acquire a real skill, like being auto mechanic. I’d been a school teacher so I knew about practical jobs: teaching children to add and subtract and to read and write is very practical. So, though it stung, I saw his point.

As a former teaching artist, traveling to bring poetry to students of all ages, I can also gin up a convincing argument on the value of poetry. Through reading, writing and speaking poems, one learns about rhythm and rhetoric, language and longing, sound and self.

These days, though, I teach yoga and meditation. I’m lately asking a version of the inmate’s question,

What’s the point of yoga in 21st-century America?

In Original Yoga: Rediscovering Traditional Practices of Hatha Yoga, Richard Rosen clarifies the question without providing an answer.

Yoga was born, nurtured, and cultivated in India, but it’s been passed along to the West like a baton in a relay race. For all intents and purposes, over the last six decades, we’ve refined the original foundation practice–asana–far beyond the wildest imaginings of the old yogis. But although we are asana adults, the rest of our practice is still in its infancy. So now it’s time to turn our attention to other matters, using the traditional practice as our model but shaping the practice to suit Western needs.

After pondering all this for some time, I think I have an answer.

It’s yoga as a return to a process-oriented approach to life. A right view that acknowledges that the fact of change and the truth of interconnection mean that the only end game is the one we investigate at the conclusion of a yoga class — death — in corpse pose, savasana.

In a U.S.-centric version of this illustration, the asana leaf would be enormous.

Our yoga teachers come primarily from performance backgrounds — athletes, gymnasts and dancers — who gravitate to yoga as full-time employment or part-time hobby. The emphasis in their teaching subsequently falls on “peak poses” as well as long inversions, vigorous flows, arm balances and “deep” anything: forward bend, backbend, twists.

Nuance is lost.

So much energy goes into production of a giant asana leaf that the flower of American yoga can’t bloom.

I’ve seen yoga teachers take and post selfies while taking and teaching classes and during meditation. Performance and presentation in the form of picture or a post tips a person into the future, away from self-study, concentration, steadying of the mind.

Yoga’s physical component of asana is to prepare the body for sitting on the ground in sustained meditation, I have heard. In the Zen tradition that I practice, fidgeting is frowned upon. We sit. Still. Crisp posture and physical strength support this.

Karen Armstrong writes in Buddha:

Yoga can be described as the systematic dismantling of the egotism which distorts our view of the world and impedes our spiritual progress….Those who practice yoga in America and Europe do not always have that objective. They often use the disciplines of yoga to improve their health….Certainly, the yogic exercises can enhance our control and induce a serenity if properly practiced, but the original yogins did not embark on this path in order to feel better and to live a more normal life. They wanted to abolish normality and wipe out their mundane selves.

Scrap the power yoga, the peak poses, the pressure to do this or that.

Move gently and notice what you feel. Build strength through attention to alignment, detail, fluid movement and longer holds. Practice right effort, bringing enthusiasm, maybe joy.

Taking action without expectation of result: This is what yoga contributes to modern America.

Yoga offers a model for the trinity of mind, body and breath. Mind, body, breath — three sturdy legs for the seat of the stool of a contented life.

Says Patanjali’s 19th sutra as translated by T.K.V. Desikachar in The Heart of Yoga:

There will be some who are born into a state of Yoga. They need not practice or discipline themselves.

Does that sound like you? It’s not me either.

In our vernacular, “discipline” is loaded, no matter how much we remind ourselves the word derives from disciple, related to knowledge. Most of us modern Americans — especially those of us with the freedom (time, money, health) to practice yoga — benefit from discipline. This might be the discipline to refrain from eating a second slice of carrot cake or to bite the tongue against gossip.

This is yoga as a structured system, one way to think about being in the world.  That does not mean co-opting religious underpinnings from the earliest yogis millennia ago, but considering the notion of integration as an ongoing coming into wholeness.

A process is a progression. “Progress” derives from the Latin for walking forward.

Patanjali’s second sutra reads,

Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distractions.

Sustain. Direct. Focus.  Yoga helps us with that. And helps us prepare for other forms of concentration, mindfulness and meditation.

Says computer coder Jonathan Harris in the Washington Post’How the Internet’s most earnest evangelist became its fiercest critic:

We’re losing agency over our own minds while big companies make money….It’s not all bad, but there are different ways of seeing,

He concludes,

We have become slaves to devices that addict us. But everyone is the custodian of his own mind. We all have the potential to be the steward of our own consciousness.

Simply discovering one’s own sense of internal organization through aligned posture shifts one’s perspective on the world. Using the body as a personal 24/7 laboratory of inquiry, a yoga student embodies change and interconnection; his or her relationship to the body changes and the parts of the body change in relationship. Morphing.

The yoga student who practices meditation and identifies some sort of ethical guidelines, with the resources of Patanjali, Buddha or another teacher, transforms intellectually and emotionally, too. Compassion unfolds, for oneself and others. Interest in the world develops. Curiosity leads to more curiosity. And ultimately to contentment as one learns, as Rilke says, to love questions.

Thinking about garbage, Energy Department science and technology policy fellow Darshan Karwat reduced his waste stream to a trickle one year. In writing about the project in the Washington Post, he says,

The hardest part was figuring out the best way to talk about what I was doing. It is important to speak to people in a language they understand — a language that respects where they come from, their motivations, their upbringings…..Also, big issues such as trash and recycling are intimately tied to other big issues such as economic growth, globalization and climate change. So, as I wrote about the experiment on my blog, what began as a discussion of trash and consumption quickly became a discussion of governance, economy, peace and pillage of the Earth, poverty, the limits of human knowledge, complexity and simplicity.

Karwat says the overarching issue is how to live more gently on Earth. How can we practice ahimsa, non-injury, that little leaflet of self-restraint on the flower of wholehearted living?

Karwat suggests,

We need to talk more about how collective change is possible by experimentation in individual lives.

By broadening beyond performance, yoga can give us know-how in being with life. I tell my students that I do the work I do — teaching yoga — so they can do the work they do — lawyers, doctors, mechanics, teachers, lobbyists, drivers, CEOs, journalists, parent, painter, or what have you.

The Latin origin of the word “perfect” means completed.

There’s no perfect in yoga, no gold medal, no checklist of poses to tick.

After years and years of meditation practice, off and on, mostly on, I sat on the cushion in the zendo recently and discovered that for a moment I’d had no thoughts. I’d been walking in meditation, then sat down, and briefly felt amazed to be in my body as I simultaneously recognized I was an “I.” Sounds weird? It was a little, but I’d studied enough to know what was going on. And it was but a moment.

In meditation instructions in The Four Foundations of Mindfulness, scholar-yogi Sayadaw U Silananda writes:

Do not have any expectations at this time of practice, do not expect to experience anything strange or to see visions or whatever. Expectation is a mild form of greed or attachment that is a hindrance to concentration and has to be eliminated.

That samadhi, the bliss gracing the flower-top of the diagram? It’s unlikely for most of us living as ordinary householders.

But that ongoing unfolding of leaves and petals? Oh, yeah! That’s available.

In grade school, I learned squash, climbing beans, and corn were the three sisters of traditional intercropping agriculture. The mind, breath and body are the intercrops of yoga. They’re cultivated by, among other means, ongoing study, investigation, observation, being helped and helping.

Yoga in 21st-century America can offer a practical approach to healthy interdependence, to being in process with other people and the environment.

The language is cumbersome, the practice is not.

Try it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivid and vital

 

Broadly put, through our imaginations we are able to create images, which need not necessarily be visual. These images can involve sound, touch, smell, or movement. Most people find it easiest to generate visual and auditory images, and the former can have an especially potent influence on the physical body. In most cases, however, the imagery we create tends to lack vividness and vitality. Therefore, yogic practitioners, like initiates of the magical arts, spend a great deal of time strengthening their faculty of imagination.

Georg Feuerstein

I love this notion of strengthening the creative capacity through guided meditation or the physical movement of asana practice. And without leaving after the fact anything material–no poem, no picture, no product. Is-ness without will be or was.

Evidence of Why

A poem has an architecture to it. If you put on special reader x-ray vision glasses, you can see the skeleton of it, the internal organization of sound and sense. The typed letters that compose words are a visible manifestation.

Atop and throughout a poem’s skeleton or frame are the flesh and circulatory systems that give it life.

Influenced by Louise Rosenblatt’s reader response theory, I believe a new poem is created when a person breathes it; the artifact of poem reanimates. Like the performance of an actor’s role, each occurrence of shared words varies depending on day, time, events, audience, speaker.

The physical postures of yoga, the asana, are like poems. “Make a shape and breathe into it,” my teacher and friend Michelle instructs. We study diagrams, directions and images of a posture then make it in space. The shapes are molds, casts, patterns. Georg Feuerstein says the “postures are psychophysical templates promoting symmetry, balance, and harmony, as well as inner peace.”

“My” Paschimottanasana does not look like this. Not even close. But I appreciate the possibilities!

The infinite possibilities of creative expression in yoga keep me returning.

The venerable art never gets old. For example, seated forward bends do not come easily to me. For two years, I’ve made Paschimottanasana an almost daily practice. It feels like that pose has a zillion moving parts. Yesterday, I tried making the shape with the soles of my feet flush against the wall’s baseboard. That small “edit” changed the pose.

Breathing into the intensity (an “ohhh” not “ouch” sensation) called on as much courage as I had to give; the pose became brand-new for me.

That quote attributed to Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”? It’s true. Even if your eyes are closed and you’re toughing it out alone on the floor of your apartment at four o’clock on a hot Saturday afternoon, calling on Breath to be your friend.

I’m a slow poem person. My poems are mostly lyrical observations on the quotidian. It can take 10 years or more to feel ready to share one. My yoga is slow, too. Even when practicing or teaching what might be considered a “flow,” I seek to make the hour a collection of minutes and seconds and moments strung together like water beads. Fully present. Nothing missed. All relational.

I’ve been rereading Jane Hirshfield. She suggests that a poem is itself a compound word, that linked together, in association, the letters and words that form the poem result in another thing.

What is poetry but an attempt at making meaning?

What is asana but an experiment in being? 

Walking last evening, Matt, Tucker and I stopped to rest on a bench and look up at the sky. A white bird flew overhead. After a moment, we recognized it as a barn owl, perhaps starting its dusk rounds. Around us, people were carrying bottles of wine to join friends for dinner, toting bags of groceries, walking dogs, hailing taxis, pushing strollers. Trucks, bikes, cars and motorcycles spun past.

Watching an owl’s soundless passage against the darkening sky invites stillness in the viewers, an opportunity to inhabit the shape of being.

I say, Hail the unhurried, quiet arts of poetry and yoga! They are evidence of Why.

 

 

 

Gotta love routine

Routine. Routine. ROUTINE. Routine. Routine. Routine.

I admit I need routine. I thrive on it.

April 13th, we departed Sacramento. My husband, the dog and I spent eight days on the road, arriving in D.C. on the 20th. During that time, we slept in motels and hotels. We ate from gas station convenience stores, small-town groceries and farm stands. We drank a whole lot of coffee, strong and fancy, weak and cheap.

Dropping off our boxes, we turned around and went to North Carolina for a conference April 23 through 26 and then turned around again to go to Baltimore for a workshop April 30.

This week, I finally started to feel like I’m back in a routine. The apartment is unpacked. We’re (mostly) waking up with green tea. It’s oats with fruit and yogurt for breakfast. We made a donation run to Goodwill on South Dakota Avenue so that what we have is what we need. The refrigerator is stocked with greens and things from the Dupont Circle Sunday farmers market.

I am breathing. I am practicing asana. I am walking. Phew.

I’m reading stories and poems for work and for fun. I’ve caught up on episodes of Nashville, Revenge, Bates Motel and Chicago Fire, as well as (of course!) the newspapers. I am taking a few minutes each day to meditate and some to rest, observe and be. The local birds are starting to become familiar. My ear’s training to recognize the call of D.C.’s official bird, the wood thrush. The dog sniffs out new friends when we explore Klingle Road.

How wonderful that the word “routine” derives from route or road.

You gotta know where you’ve been and where you’re going in order to realize what’s happening now.

Athletes, artists and yogis impose structure on the basics–sleep, food, entertainment–so that experimentation, change and growth can occur on the field or in the studio.

O, wonderful words. Turns out road derives from the Old English word for “journey on horseback” or “foray.” And foray comes from “forager.”

We are all just living–the rider, the horse, the forager, the foraged, the gold medalist and the hobbyist.

Every being with a routine.

I’ve seen so many faces in the past month, all across the country. When I lie down at night snippets of images and conversations pass through my mind’s film reel.

Marvel!

Billions of people, trillions of creatures with their own routines, precious to them. Conceptualizing the web of routines criss-crossing boundaries and biomes, how can we not practice ahimsa?

As one-by-one yoga and meditation students schedule with me, I see how the rhythm of a private session marks the week like a metronome’s tick-tock. Welcomed into another’s routine, how can we not treat that time as precious? I felt that way when I greeted my high school students at the classroom door years ago. I feel that way now when students welcome me across their thresholds to work with them.

Making a big move has made me appreciate routine, especially a yoga home practice. I know of no better way to release the body, still the mind and settle the heart.

What do you love about your daily routine? Who welcomes you in? Whom do you welcome?

 

 

Joy

Yoga identifies joy–a natural sense of well-being, gratitude, and peace–as the deepest aspect of what it means to be human. – Kelly McGonigal in Yoga for Pain Relief

In my experience, joy has been the most wonderful aspect of bringing yoga into daily life. Like a pilot light, this joy burns low and steadily, deep in the body, flaming extra bright when given the right fuel. The little warm light also persists through physical and emotional pain; its presence dispels fear.

tucker from above
Tucker understands English and Spanish words; he communicates with his body and his gaze.

One does not need a rubber mat to find this joy. My grandmother, Kay Mergen, had it. I glimpsed it when it left with her, extinguished by her final sigh. She was raised in desert spaces and learned early that everything is fragile and strong, singular and connected. Without any training in breath awareness or asana, she knew when to act and when to rest.

Animals embody joy. It’s no wonder so many yoga poses are named for them. They live themselves fully.

There’s not much mystery to any of this. The wisdom of joy is available to anyone. Wisdom from wit, a word related to veda, Sanskrit for ‘knowledge,’ and videre, Latin for ‘to see.’

There’s no mystery, but there is a secret. The secret is silence and stillness. So in yoga, we move the body then pause and feel, we slow the breath and listen, we clear the mind through concentration and sit with what remains.

Here: let more words be keys on wisdom’s iron joyfully clanging ring.

The word listen derives from Old English hlysnan pay attention to.’  The word see derives from Latin sedere sit.

Wisdom–knowledge gained from seeing, paying attention, listening, sitting still with heart.

Now, once you’ve unlocked the doors, throw away the keys. You may not need words at all. You’ve wisdom. And joy?

For ourselves and others

Finding some ease within oneself, physically and emotionally, can allow one to do one’s work–and by work I mean the actions of daily life–more adroitly.

“This body and heart can be tools for peacemaking. But they are only valuable tools when they have vitality and energy. We study ourselves so we can move beyond this self. What you learn about is you. When you study this “you” closely, you start to disappear. Even if you find a terrible person inside you, if you look at it closely, it doesn’t stand up. Nothing really does. At bottom, we cannot be reduced to one thing. Even spikes of craving only last for a few minutes at a time. Because our cravings and addictions can be so exhausting, it’s important that we learn from them and transform these old habits so we can become useful tools for social change. We practice both for ourselves and for the culture at large.” – Awake in the World

People who have bottomed out and kept going–like the inmates I’ve written poetry with or friends I’ve known who were undone by alcoholism or mental illnesses–convey that no one can be reduced to one thing, one incident, one word. Nothing’s that simple.

Yoga offers practice in being resilient and flexible, falling moment by moment in and out of equilibrium. Sometimes the practice of asana resembles the process of receiving or making a poem. A single moment depends on recognizing the context of other moments. And what seems like one hour’s practice or one sole poem that can be framed by the clock or the page is really a part of every practice and every poem. As we are all connected to one another.

Very Slowly

Oh, slow things:

poems

drowsy cats

mountains

cranes taking flight

the earth’s rotation

strolling

loving

napping

good food

laughing long

conversations w/strangers

bicycles (the way I ride them!)

paddling a lake

floating on a lake

time as we knew it

Yoga

“Without the base support of our parasympathetic nervous system, which governs respiration, relaxation, and functions such as digestion, our somatic reality can become ungrounded. For this reason, the asanas, or Yoga postures, were traditionally practiced very slowly, with each movement synchronized to the breath, in order to balance the nervous system and open a perceptual gateway to the parasympathetic nervous system. This makes us available to our feeling function.” – Donna Farhi

Remarks

40 remarks on pain, yoga, poetry, bodies, minds, hearts & bridges.

  1. Pain distracts: physical and emotional pain sidetrack the sufferer from full participation in life.
  2. Pains have complex narratives that catapult us into the past of what happened and how.
  3. If the narrative doesn’t take us into the past it ricochets us into a future of hope or despair, based on forecasting the pain’s fate.
  4. Yoga asana and meditation practices can situate pain in the present.
  5. Ease is found in the present moment.
  6. Being led by a teacher can facilitate surrendering to concentration.
  7. Once pain is eradicated–not just numbed–we may forget we ever had it.
  8. The stories of discomfort leave with it.
  9. In writing, poets recall past emotions.
  10. They translate them for a future by creating a record.
  11. Reflection differs from meditation in this relationship to time.
  12. Yet, both are forms of repose.
  13. And the “flow” an artist enters can be considered a creative meditation.
  14. Essentially, shape-making (yoga) and art-making (poetry) can both operate outside of linear time.
  15. Human beings, as makers and meaning-makers, situate themselves in narrative (linear) time.
  16. Synthesis, evaluation and analysis are some of these thinking skills.
  17. Analysis is the final step in creating art and understanding it.
  18. Poets devise explanations of this, of understanding relationship of person, poem, world.
  19. Examples are Keats’s negative capability, Hopkins’s inscape, Eliot’s objective correlative.
  20. Everyone must think and feel.
  21. Sometimes after a difficult poem is written its significance starts to fade. The sensation is of physical release.
  22. There is no final step in the practice of a yoga asana; all is movement.
  23. Poems take a physical shape.
  24. Yoga requires imagination.
  25. We are body and mind.
  26. So the human being constantly knots rope bridges of meaning across canyons of fear and loss.
  27. We want to understand, happiness and pain.
  28. We want to get to where we are going.
  29. Addressing pain requires daily attention to it–stretching a tight hip flexor, consciously re-patterning behavior.
  30. Once a pain becomes part of a person’s identity, it goes everywhere, like a tennis ball in the mouth of a compulsive retriever.
  31. Examining pain can seem tedious–to sufferer, friends and family.
  32. Enter compassion.
  33. One who listen to another helps.
  34. Many people file across a rope bridge, moving forward.
  35. Yoga moves us forward.
  36. By staying still.
  37. Everyone’s pain is their’s alone.
  38. There are many canyons.
  39. Poems map the landscape. Then we know where to set the trestles.
  40. Settle body and mind to arrive at the heart of any matter.