Crows and coconuts pt 1

Crow

There’s a paradox parable of sorts in the Vastishana about a crow and a coconut. It explores the idea of timing. Not in the sense of minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day but in the more eternal sense of fate. It’s a befuddling concept that has tickled man’s mind since we discovered opposable thumbs. For me it develops into a question of a conscious universe, in some ways law of attraction, power of the unconscious. What is the nature of energy? Can we influence our future or are we subject to whatever happens…Is it a dance with Fate the way I had come to think of it?

I had just experienced a devastating occurrence of life. I was desperate for the answer to the quandary: do things happen for a reason? I sat down, picked up my Hindu Mythology book and came across the aforementioned crow and coconut story.

A crow alights a branch at the same exact time a coconut falls to the ground. Did the crows’ touch cause the coconut to fall, or was the coconut about to fall anyway?

Cause and effect is a theme in life. We learn it in school in chemistry (I think) and see it on a molecular level. It’s those scientific notions, the law of conservation of energy, law of attraction, that support the energetic exchanges our ancestors intuitively knew. I leaned toward cause and effect and started seeking the crow that caused my coconut to fall. I looked in every possible corner of my mind, heart and soul. And let me tell you, I came up with a shitload of possible crows. But in a sky of crows, I couldn’t pick out one that satisfied the overwhelming feelings of a situation that rendered me baffled. So to choose one crow that landed on that branch causing the coconut to fall was impossible. I started to wonder if it was possible to choose just one and if there was even the possibility of one…is there a why to the things that happen to us? Is there a reason? Or does shit just happen? All possible crows.

Take a deep breath in, open mouth release it out. Crow is about hugging into center, arms externally rotate and squeeze in to create a stable shelf as a foundation for your crow, your core reaches for your spine so much they fuse in fluidity, your legs squeeze together to create a lift in the lower torso, your mind wraps around your breath, funneling your awareness into being Bakasana. Fingers come down to the mat, spread the fingers nice and wide, press down under the nails. Establish your chaturanga arms and bring your knees to the back of your arms. We are traditionally not weight bearing on our arms…just get used to the idea of holding yourself on your hands. Try picking up one foot, and then the other, and then maybe both. Look about 6 inches forward, settle your gaze on a single dristi (focal point), push down into the earth with your hands and as you do that, reach the forearms in toward each other and rotate your shoulders to the outer sides and then back and down your back. Bring your knees to the back of your arms, engage the core, look forward, pick the legs up from the floor, take flight into Bakasana, Crow.

Crow

 

Part II, Part III

Tense up to fly

As I was planning one of my Vinyasa classes I realized how many of the asana’s named for birds require some sort of tension or even a bind first.

Bakasana (crow) needs a squeezing in of the the forearms and the shins. A tightening of the Uddiyana Bandha and the engaging of the Mula Bandha. (For more information on Bandha’s click here.)  All of these areas need to be engaged in order for flight to occur. Svarga Dvidasana (Birds of Paradise) requires that you squat down, bind, and then root to rise, extending the leg out.

What’s obvious about these postures when you think about them, is that sometimes adversity leads you into flight. Utilizing tensions, putting them where they belong and where they are appropriate, can free you. In crow, if you don’t engage the Bandha’s it’s harder to life and easier to fall on your face (it’s not a far fall! Doesn’t hurt…much!) Maybe the lesson in that statement is that if you embrace the tension and learn to live with it and breathe through it and use it, it will prevent you from falling.

And really, this is true about everything from art to music to work to life to love. Obviously I’m not some insightful genius that had an epiphany strike my brain. Well, actually, that did happen but it’s not unique to me. It’s everyday we encounter tension, and we can either succumb to it or use it. We can run from it or learn to understand it and grow from it.

Of course, that’s the kind of statement that’s easier said than done, and oft times when currently in the tense moment, especially the really bad ones, we all want to cry bullshit and crawl under our pillows. And fair enough. I highly recommend doing just that. And under that pillow, just breathe. Not in the Faith Hill “Breathe” kind of way, but in the Willie Nelson kind of “Just Breathe.” (Pearl Jam does a great cover). The kind of breath that allows you to feel pain. The kind of breathe that allows you to feel comfort and love. The breath that accepts the gamut of emotions that we as human beings experience.

 

 


Fear of the darker parts of the soul

Yoga mama  posted this quote:

 

We have a fear of facing ourselves. That is the obstacle. Experiencing the innermost core of our existence is very embarrassing to a lot of people. A lot of people turn to something that they hope will liberate them without their having to face themselves. That is impossible. We can’t do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our excrement, our most undesirable parts. We have to see them. That is the foundation of warriorship, basically speaking. Whatever is there, we have to face it, we have to look at it, study it, work with it and practice meditation with it.

Chogyam Trungpa

 

 

I speak purely from myself here, but I find that when I fear facing myself, it’s not because I don’t want to acknowledge my undesirable parts. I am fully aware of these chunks of myself that are on constant display for the world. I lament on them, they consume me. I am in constant self-reflection attempting to “better” my self, and yet find I fear success. I fear being able to do something well. I fear my true artistic power. I opened my closet last night and realized I have a ton of art materials. I have some dating back to my first college class ages ago. What this tells me though, is that I have a lot of materials I am not using. My friend, has one book and a few watercolors and one paintbrush. Maybe a set of pastels. But he has portfolio upon portfolio upon portfolio of work. He sits down and commits himself to his art. He does not fear it. He knows he has talent and shares it with the world. Me? I’m so scared of trying that I am not even sure what my preferred medium is! My place is a disaster area so I am constantly cleaning. This is really just a defense mechanism to help me avoid sitting down and doing art. I even have am a graphic designer for a company and yet fear graphic design when I get home.

 

How do you get over your graphic design fears? I sit down in front of my computer, excited, inspired, millions of ideas filling my head. And POOF! all gone the minute I open Illustrator or Photoshop. And then I find myself wondering what my idea was and what program should I be doing it in. I will fail if I cannot figure out how to focus and not fear my creative energy. If you do things, things get done. And I am not getting anything done b/c I fear doing things.

 

 

Another example is bakasana, though this is a successful example (but I hope it doesn’t take me as long to get over my artist fear). For a decade, I couldn’t do bakasana. This was totally my water break. I couldn’t even try for the longest time. Well, that’s not true. The first time I was introduced to bakasana, I was tricked into doing it. Clever yoga instructor. She led the class through the movements step-by-step without us any the wiser of what we were moving into. Place your hands on the ground, shoulder distance apart. Start to really bend at your elbows finding a drishti slightly in front of you. Place your knees on the back of your triceps and then lift your feet and bring the big toe mounds to touch. I was in bakasana without even realizing it. And I was soaring. I was confident and zestful. But when I tried to do it again I couldn’t. I tumbled forward. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. I showed my friend what I was trying to do, someone who had never done yoga before, and she gracefully moved into bakasana with ease.

 

A decade later I am only once again experiencing the pleasures of bakasana and can nearly hold it for five breathes. Of course, now there is eka pada galavasana or eka pada bakasana. There’s always something new to try and something new to experience.

 

But, to bring this back to the beginning quote, it isn’t my fear of the darker parts of my soul that inhibit my ability to accomplish, I’m aware of the darker parts. In fact, my issue is that I am so aware and so deep in them, that I fear the brighter, more vital parts. The parts of power, the parts of graceful poise. I would like to not fear success. I would like to actualize the artist power I feel slumbering inside of me. I’m just not always sure how.