7.30 – notepad by my bed.  I lift up my pen and hover it across the white paper.  I must have dreamt last night, I know I did, but I just can’t remember…I slept in, and I feel rested.  Yesterday was very different.  I couldn’t remember my dreams again, but I woke up at 4 – my hips raging.  My ayurvedic doctor said I’d made progress but there was still a bunch of stuff hidden away.  The remedies stir it up a bit, you process it all in deep sleep, when you’re ready, then settle into moments of calm.  Then when you’re ready to cope it comes up to the surface all over again.  There’s still anger in me.  Perhaps that’s why my Pitta has been so out of balance.  Its processing all of this mangled and rusty anger.  But, it’s not as volatile as it once was, it feels more fluid, and when it rises I walk it off, use my yoga to channel it.  In fact, my yoga practice is heavenly when I have all this heated energy swirling about in my hips.  Perhaps its the intense contact I feel with my body and its movement, perhaps its just a lot of upward energy….whatever it is, I’m noticing a steadiness in my practice that I’ve not had before.   Starting to bind in Marichyasana B.

Its a long way to go until I can press my nose to the floor but those hands behind me are clasped onto each other firmly!  I fear, those dratted boobs of mine are going to prove problematic as this pose develops.

My Navasana was steady.  Core muscles seem to be more engaged, and usually when I practice this pose, my legs, arms, entire body in fact begins to tremble.  You hold it for 5 breaths, cross your legs and do a little bum lift and then back into it for 5 breaths, bum lift, again for another 5 breaths…and ok, yesterday I stopped right there instead of doing the complete set of 5, but my extremities weren’t shaking at all, it was just a ripple of muscles spasms running up and down my core.  Studying Matthew’s book, I need to get those arms lower, chest up a bit, legs a bit lower….but that’s besides the point.  I’m getting there!

By the time I got to Bhujapadasana, I felt quite confident.  I knew my body could do it.  I just knew it.  My arms and shoulders tucking more easily behind the back of my thighs, confidence building as I place my hands flat behind my heels, I let my weight fall back into bum and hips, pushing down with my hands, feet lifting, lifting…there was a sensation of strength across my upper arms, and my core muscles burning ever so slightly, I was elevated for 5 full, unbroken breaths, and at the end of it all, managed to unwrap my feet and place them back onto the mat, without my usual ungainly, legs splayed, roll-back.
Into back-bends.  The moon sequence has been an absolute god-send for me. Back bends are scary.  It goes against our natural instincts to move our bodies in that way.  We’re taught of the fragility of our spine, and how careful we need to be.  Lifting your pelvis, pushing with your hands and feet and arching your back like that just doesn’t feel like its meant to be.  In moon sequence, every vinyasa warms it up a little bit, and by the time you get to the backbending sequence, (from a kneeling position, as opposed to this…) you just feel this rush of release.  Your hands fall back onto your heels, and you’re in control of it, arching, arching, looking further and further back.  Its remarkable really what you’re capable of.  It also means that by the time you get to back-bending in Primary, that nervous fear has begun to subside.  That stretching and heat you feel is meant to be there…you understand the sensations, focus on the front of your thighs, the psoas, the stomach…breathe.  My back-bends are messy.  Hands uneven, arms need to be straight, pelvis lifted, lifted, and by the time I got to my third (this was my first) it felt like I was getting closer to that…but for the first time really, its starting to feel good.  I’m starting to understand, my body’s starting to understand.

I struggled a bit through my finishing sequence, but my arms were almost flat in Halasana, knees grounded on either side of my ears in Karna Pidasana.  Sirsasana (headstand) is a funny one for me.  Considering most of the strength you need for that comes from your core, it seems counterintuitive that this particular pose seems to be getting exponentially clumsier and malformed.   First attempt was steady enough.  Muscles engaged, forearms pressing into the floor, cupping the back of my head…up on tip-toes, rocking rocking,and slowly, in a kind of foetal position my feet come off the floor, still tucked in balancing, balancing, inches from the wall…remembering everything Matthew taught me…pushing into forearms, it’s not about straightening the legs just yet, it’s not even really about the head…its the core…it’s all that strength in the core.  If I can just lower myself down with control, and quiet then the headstand will come in time.   I begin my descent.  Slowly, slowly…..AHHH! Thud, crash….toes crushed, a little bit dizzy.  Bugger.  Next time.  Next time.  Remember its all in the core.  Time to relax, to surrender my weight to the floor….Savasana galore!

Despite a truly wonderful practice the rest of my day continued to be a little bit fraught.  I had woken at 4 am to get an application in for a job I’d really like to get, but am all too aware of what a stretch it would be and how competitive it is out there.  I started work on my first freelance project.  Researching instructional videos online and best practice, for the series of tutorials I’ll be creating over the next few months.  I loved it.  Good to get my teeth into something again…but STILL I felt a little bit forlorn.

Cravings and aversions were coming to the surface, a resurgence of old habits I thought I’d let go of…I was dwelling in the past, fearful of my future, of being alone…I wasn’t living in the now, I was finding it difficult to stay with “this is my body and this is real”.

How bleak everything looked, and how withdrawn I felt, as I made my way across to a meeting hall in Brighton, to attend a talk about Buddhism.  I was afraid of talking to anyone, had my cardigan and coat all wrapped up around me, closing me off from the outside world.  I settled into a chair in the back row, slightly removed from the rest of the group.  A group of people familiar with each other.  I was the stranger.

But as the woman from the Brighton Buddhist Centre began her talk about the origins of Buddhism and what it means to Westerners in the 21st Century, I felt myself starting to warm…starting to open up.

She talked about ethics, meditation and wisdom.  Compassion, and awakenings.  Impermanence, equanimity and love.  All these terms that have become so familiar over these past few months.  She talked about the moments when you suddenly wake up and see the world in a different way.  That light inside you, and the light you see in everybody else.  My memories from Burma came flooding back, the beaming smiles from child monks,  a morning in Brighton last week where everything was beautiful and perfect, just as it was.  As she continued to talk I realised that despite  my self-doubts and “not-very-present” day, I’ve already woken up.  I’ve already experienced that glimpse into what our world is really like, opened that door to freedom.  But, and what I think resonates most from what I’m learning about Buddhism, is that these experiences are fleeting…it takes practice.  Practice, practice, practice.

Just like yoga, just like playing an instrument, or writing.  It takes practice.  Every day.  And eventually….”all is coming.”

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