8 January 2008

Foggy Mind

Thursday 13th December

A late night and not enough sleep sometimes results in a surprisingly strong, focussed practice which always seems like a miracle when it happens.
Unfortunately it didn’t go that way this morning.
Getting up was easy enough because I was too foggyheaded to think myself out of it. But foggymind for me is the worst one to practice with – fog is the opposite to focus and clarity.
Focus and clarity bring a precision to consciousness and when they’re present in my practice I can more easily generate and direct energy. And the energy itself is focussed and clear.
A foggy mind usually means a dull, lifeless practice, with precious energy leaking out all over the place.
A foggy practice might start off OK but the leakage of unchannelled energy will quickly lead the body to a lazy exhaustion.
I made it to the end of the standing poses with breath, bandhas and reputation intact, but the Foggy monster overpowered me – suddenly I could imagine nothing sweeter than laying down on my mat and falling asleep.
I summoned all my forces, gathered my consciousness and decided that foggy mind was a test of all my years of Buddhist and yogic mental training. Much too easy to give in, lay down and acquiesce to this powerful competitor…VERY difficult to confront one’s own mindstate, apply will and turn the mind around.
This is the real yoga – flexing some spiritual muscle. Yoga is not just physical gymnastics but the purifying and reprogramming of hard wiring in our brain – mental gymnastics.

Here I was in Dandasana, how to proceed. It was pointless to continue jumping around, my energy wasn’t clear or strong. I slowed down the physical practice so I could focus my energy reserves on the mental practice. Eight breaths in every pose from Paschimottanasana through to Marichy C with vinyasas only between poses.
The sleepy fog eventually lifted, but only through an extraordinary process of observation and determination.
I used each pose to bring increasing clarity to my mind, applying my dull, foggy focus to working a particular part of my body in each pose – like the simple action of pressing thighbones down in all the seated poses and catching myself when this action faded, reapplying the mental and physical muscles over and over to re-engage the action – this one simple command repeated throughout the seated poses was enough to gradually cut throught the thick fog and by Navasana the fog had lifted and my mind had become clear and precise.

I’ll miss yoga next week, 8 days on a Vipassana retreat may set me back a little in my physical yoga practice but I’m hoping it will clear out the accumulated mental rubbish that is blocking my spiritual yoga practice.

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