I am picking the edge of a scab on my right knee. This scab is half way through turning into a gigantic pink wheal, large enough for me to worry about how unsightly it will be once it finishes healing. Especially if I keep picking at it. Which I will because I am one of those people who cannot leave things on my body alone. Take that as you will, your assumptions are probably more than correct.
This scab came from an injury sustained the first weekend of my yoga certification class. More specifically, it came from my need to bust out a trail run before the class. Remember how I told you that when I first started getting down and dirty with my asana practice I lived in L.A. and was what I called “L.A. Fit“? Well what I meant by that is I developed a strong work out ethic that to this day borders on fanatical. I don’t feel right in my body unless I’ve run a certain number of miles a week or thrown around some heavy weights or engaged my asana practiced for many hours. This method of working out was a dedication to my body at first but after a while it morphed into an insatiable need. My body started to crave sweat, muscle strain or my feet pounding the pavement to the point of exhaustion. So. In reality. My scab and ensuing scar came from my inability to let go of this need to exercise. To just be.
I forget at times, what it is within me that I am trying to exhaust. Not until I was sprawled along the side of deer trail an hour before I was supposed to be in class with tears streaming down my face and mixing with the blood streaming out of my knee did I question the sanity of what I was doing.
See. Here’s what happened. I was pushing it up a sort of steep slope covered in rusty red rocks and twisty trees hoping that I could log 3 or 4 miles before class. It isn’t a lot of miles, enough to make me feel like I’ve accomplished something for the day ya know? I only had 30 (ok 20) minutes to accomplish this feat and have enough time to shower before class. I was focusing on “the finish” and in doing so stopped paying attention to my feet. I caught my toe on a large rock and skidded forcefully across the top, tearing the first 3 or 4 layers of skin from my knee. It hurt like a mother fucker and I instantly started crying.
They were frustration tears, not really pain tears. I got up, wiped red dust from the ass of my running shorts and …tried to keep going. Blood seeping out around the stones and grit embedded in my skin. I tried to keep going because I had this perception of where I wanted to stop the run before I hurt myself. Of course I didn’t make it. My partner, hand on my shoulder told me that it was an insane idea and I was jeopardizing my certification program by tempting further injury.
He was right, but it didn’t stop me from running the back down the hill to the car.
I sat for 5 hours in class that day with a paper towel soaking up the sero-sanguinous fluid seeping from my injured knee, popping Tylenol every two hours and…not paying attention to the lessons we were being provided that day.
Because of my addiction to perfection and addiction to my perceptions…and in retrospect this was my most important lesson of the day. Earlier we talked about perception, the lenses that we wear that flavor our lives, which make us “individual” as we seek to separate from the whole. Yoga calls such perceptions samsakaras and dictates that one can reframe perceptions through limbs of the practice: pranayama, meditation, ethics, self-assessment, care etc. You see, Asanas are a “doingness”, a body practice that can stay firmly rooted in the physical realm for as long as the practitioner wishes…lemme tell you, throughout my yoga career I have been rooted so deeply in the perfecting of my asana postures that most days recognize that I haven’t allowed myself to move to openness and honesty with myself…and these are the good days.
Seeing is the first step.
It is ALWAYS an ego argument, I know that yoga practice opens my heart to the deeper aspects of the mind-body connection but to be honest, until recently I have been terrified of being that honest with myself. A lot of shit lives in me that I just don’t want to deal with. Sound familiar? Sound…unenlightened that I would much prefer to remain seated in the darkness of a simple physical practice.
It is the honest soul the peels back the layers to see what exists in the deep below. In my experience, it also takes a strong soul…and herein lies my issue: At times, when I am at my weakest, I confuse my perception of strength with the strength necessary to do the deeper soul work. When I push past my physical limits or am mentally exhausted but still chasing the dragon I see strength…unfortunately this idea is self-serving and aligns with my idea of perfection of the physical.
I have learned, over time that there IS a deep body soul connection and being honest with myself about where I am in my journey is a necessary aspect of moving to union, apotheosis. Sometimes, when I become fully mired in my shit ( I’m so fat today, I need to run to feel alive, exercise IS meditation) the universe steps in and reminds me that I need to bring my attention back to how conscious I am of my true practice.
Do I still work out a lot? Yeah. I do, but I do it with consciousness. If I fail to remain conscious…in steps a rock with a very real reminder that my body is not where my sacred center lies, it is simply the house…a house that I will cover with mederma and Neosporin to avoid too big a scar on its leg-knee area because covetousness is still a work in progress.
- Asana and Teachable Moments (ahimsamaven.wordpress.com)
- Trail Running 101 (takboprintipe.wordpress.com)
- Lessons from the yoga mat #4: asana of the computer (whatmybodywants.wordpress.com)