An article in the new YJ has a really great quote in it by Chogyam Trungpa. In response to being asked what he did when facing great discomfort, he answered, "I try to stay in it as long as I can." Dude, bravo. Seriously. It's a great tenet, and as tenets go, it can be hard to remember in the face of difficulty. When there's sadness or anger or fear or whatever, there's an intensity of emotion which is palpable in the body. The sensation can feel overwhelming so usually we try to drop it like its hott by displacing the emotion (e.g. keeping busy, eating, working out, etc.). But, staying in the emotion and withstanding the tendency towards running has a really beautiful effect: it begins to soften and dissipate.
Yoga's fifth limb is pratyahara. It's most commonly translated as 'withdrawal from the senses'. Once though, I remember hearing Baron describe this limb differently, and in a way that totally resonated with me. He said that pratyahara wasn't so much withdrawing from the senses as much as it was coming into them. The thing is, you can't really run from emotion. It will beat yer ass every single time. And then it's like the sorest winner ever because it'll keep rearing its head until you're finally ready to just man up and deal with it. And you deal w/ it not through avoidance but by staying. (As I type I'm sipping a glass of port, which is why this is easy for me to say... but then, someone's got to.) It's the same w/ asana -- say you're in frog and it's getting kinda intense. Naturally, the inclination is to come out, either by straight out giving up, or by fidgeting so much that for all intents and purposes, you're done w/ it. The other option is to stay and rather than avoiding the tightness in your hips, you stay w/ that tightness, and you look at it, as if it had a face of its own, and then you meet it with breath. It might sound retarded and if you don't practice yoga, you might be so over it by now, but I mention this not to alienate the fives of non-yogi readers I have, as much as to illustrate that it doesn't matter if it's a yoga posture or a deep sense of loneliness, it's all the same.
One of my favorite things to do is to see movies by myself. I guess it's an experience that hearkens back to my creative writing youth when I'd hang out on Capital Hill downing americanos with whipped cream, pretending I led such a tragic and poetic life. Anyway, even now I still like to see movies alone, except when they're scary. You see, I don't get worked up over the extraterrestrial or paranormal stuff. Blaire Witch? Puh-lease. The Ring? Bring it. But what gets me is the stuff that could actually happen. Silence of the Lambs? I'm still having nightmares. Seven? Holy mother of sweet baby Jesus. Jesus that was scary.
Tonight I saw Jindabyne because well, I like Raymond Carver and Gabriel Byrne. It was alright (story good, acting took a while to get warmed up) but for godsakes it was about a serial killer! (Well not 'about' about, but close enough.) In all of my rushed pretentiousness, I didn't think to read the short *first*. So I walked back to my car, (the Promenade eerily quiet on a Sunday night), and suddenly all the romantic solitude of seeing movies by myself didn't seem so charming anymore. I climbed the five flights of stairs in the parking garage, thumb on the panic button of my car keys, then checked my car to make sure there wasn't a murderer in the back seat. I suppose I could have taken my own advice and just stayed with the fear, you know, look it in the face, but I was too busy wetting myself.
I have a new crush -- the drummer of The Walkmen is just THAT awesome. He makes me wonder if his arms and legs have their own brain.
Can you stand one more yoga story? I'm so excited b/c I've just learned some new stuff. You know how you can practice a posture for years and you just keep experimenting w/ it and then one day you just *get* it? Well, on Saturday that happened to me TWICE! Chatturanga and twisting triangle -- two of my least favorite postures -- have now become really sexy to me. W/ chatturanga, I've always tried dropping my tailbone and pulling my belly in, but the big aha! came when I pulled my lower rib cage in. It was a-mazing. Then, later in the same practice I was in twisting triangle on the right side, (I'd rather drink a gallon of motor oil than do twisting triangle), and I pulled my left shoulder back towards the center of my body. This allowed me to drop my shoulders down and free my rib cage which pulled my hips into alignment. Sweet.