Across the line

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It is week 2 in my 2.5 weeks of practice with Saraswathi at the end of this season. I had arrived on Friday, and managed to begin my practice with a strong led class with her 2 Sundays ago.
Today, I received my first Intermediate series postures from Saraswathi today. It was a quick blur of a practice today, perhaps remnants from the short moonday trip to Taj Mahal that I just got back from last night. With no dinner from the previous night, all I could think of by the time I reached Supta Padangustasana was “I am SO hungry right now”. Though practice was quick, I felt time moved slower than usual. I took extra breaths in between postures in my Downward Dog. I accidentally skipped one or two postures and had to pick up from where I should have continued from. It was an unusually challenging practice, not because the postures were painful or difficult, but because the energy level was precariously low as I battled moments where dark stars were swimming across my vision.
“Last year, what you do in Intermediate?”
I came down from my Urdhva Paschimottanasana and looked up to her from my mat. “None” I said, shaking my head with a small smile.
“Ok, today you try, Pasasana. After Setu, do Pasasana”
An immediate flashback to that fateful Mysore practice I had with DR in early February where he had questioned me on who my teacher might have been to have given those Intermediate postures when dropping back into Urdhva Dhanurasana still remained a complete mystery to me. I wondered a little how that situation would have turned out if I had answered his question with “Saraswathi”.
I nodded and proceeded to my final posture from the Primary series. My legs straightened just a little bit more in Setu, perhaps fuelled by the excitement of entering into Intermediate with direct blessing from Saraswathi herself. Pasasana came easy today, quelling the slight anxiety as I haven’t been practicing this posture in the weeks leading up to me arriving here. Just as I was getting ready to close of, she looked across the room and said “No, from Setu you jump through, Pasasana”
It must’ve appeared as a whisper when I said “I’ve done Pasasana” because she kept insisting “chatvari, jumpback”. She lead me up through Krounchasana after which I indicated an Urdhva Dharunasana and she nodded.
I have been practicing my drop back lately by hovering. I do it 3 times, first pressing on the sacrum and the other two, hovering as far back as my own bravery or fear (depending on how you see it) would allow me to. Today she stood a couple of students away, and said “go, just go. Go down”. And this is when I thought to myself “OK, shit just got real yo”
At some point in a drop back there is always the fear that kicks in when I am low enough. Perhaps sensing that I would not go back any further she placed one hand behind my back and I dropped back, a little too hard on my right wrist, but I did it nevertheless. And she brought me back up with one hand.
As I am typing this, I am still amazed at what that brief and ever so barely there touch of a single hand from her can give enough assurance that I won’t be breaking my neck or stumble forward uncontrollably. Sometimes that is all that is needed from a teacher, the moment when they give you enough space to explore the depths and borders of your own fears, pushes just enough to feel the boundaries, and supports you just barely to guide safely across the line.
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Holding on to anger is like grasping on hot coal…

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“But why does it have to happen to me?” The ultimate question in all suffering. And the question I was not surprised to hear eventually being spoken out loud by the cab driver that was taking me to the airport that morning. It was way too early for such a deep and somewhat heart wrenching talk about betrayal, divorce, court orders and joint custody. Especially between complete strangers like that.

I am not a family lawyer, neither am I a trained relationship psychiatrist. But for some reason or other, a conversation that began about where I was headed to, veered towards the upcoming implementation of GST to the story of his wife who decided to file for divorce last year and his 2 hours a week visitation time with his 8 year old daughter granted by the court on his last hearing.

It made me think about the time I had the same question revolving in my own head. It could have just been minutes, but to hear it echoing around in my head made it seem as if it was an endless pursuit of an answer that was never really needed in the first place. Why is it rare for people to pose the same questions when they are experiencing joy and happiness? Or when they just won a million bucks from the lottery?

He was clearly lost in this conversation that I hadn’t want to continue any longer than it already has been. We were probably halfway toward the airport. Looking out the window of his cab, watching at the sky that is patiently waiting for the sun to lit its horizon, I heard him continue “Before I die, I only want to see one thing happen to her, to see her suffer in the way I did, to have her feel exactly what I had felt from her own decisions”

Completely normal human reaction no doubt. But I think the precious lesson in such circumstance is often overlooked, missed or sadly never discovered because we are just too busy planning, contemplating, imagining and wishing for the same dire circumstance to befall the person who has ’caused’ us this suffering. Perhaps it us that is inflicting the suffering on ourselves. Like that wonderful quote by Siddharta Gautama Buddha:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned”

There are infinite perspectives to a single situation, and to focus on just one interpretation incredibly limits our ability to evolve as a person. More than anything else, anger, I believe are one of those precious emotions granted to us as an avenue to seek meaning within ourselves to enrich our experience in this lifetime.

I am

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I am with you in every breath
Every thought of every single man

I am, I am, I am
I am with you in the whisper of the wind
Softly whistling into your ears
Je suis, je suis, je suis 
 
I am in every streak of the red burning sun
I am the tears from across the split broken sky
I am the pain in every desires of your heart
I am in the sound of every running brook that joins the sea
Wo shi, wo shi, wo shi 
 
And I am the silence which exists eternally within you.
I am that.