“Unlike many of today’s world religions, which reject the physical world and sensual experience in favour of transcendental or ideal states, Aboriginal spirituality considers the sensual experience of the physical world the only means to realize the truth, beauty and reality of the metaphysical creative powers.”
‘Voices of the First Day’ by Robert Lawlor
I spent a few hours with my son after work last night and didn’t get home til after 9.30pm. Skipped practice.
As I lay in bed flicking through the books in my current reading pile, something was bothering me. I felt a little niggle scratching away in a forgotten corner of my memory bank, an invisible tap on my shoulder…there was something unfinished that needed attention…a loose end in my dark subconscious was struggling to rise up like a sprout into the bright light of my conscious mind.
It was Urdhva Padmasana, the Shoulderstand pose with legs in Lotus, I wrote about it yesterday, but now I couldn’t remember seeing a picture of this pose in Light on Yoga.
I looked up the Week 22 -25 sequence to find the image reference number – that was when I discovered my mistake. The pose at the end of the Shoulderstand sequence was listed as Urdhva Prasaritta Padasana, but for the past week I’ve been doing Urdhva Padmasana instead, a pose that isn’t introduced until the next sequence (week 26-30).
What a poor memory. During my practice of the week 19-22 sequence I’d been doing all the correct poses including Urdhva Prasaritta Padasana, then at some point I must have misinterpreted the Sanskrit name and substituted Urdhva Padmasana.
A trivial matter really… I only mention it because I blogged so effusively about it!
Returning to my original enquiry I looked up the image of Mr Iyengar doing Urdhva Padmasana. He does it with his hand into his back and his Padmasana legs extended upwards like this. It’s a different version to the pose I did religiously at the end of the Ashtanga Primary series for years. In the Ashtanga version, the thighs are parallel to the floor, the hands support and press up under the knees, while the weight of the legs rests upon the hands like this.
I spent a moment considering the differences between the two (hard to evaluate when I can't remember doing the Iyengar version) before reading through the list of poses in the next sequence (week 26-30). There are two Urdhva Padmasanas listed – same name but they have different reference numbers: one is Padmasana in Headstand and the other is Padmasana in Shoulderstand. This sequence has a few extra Padmasana variations in the opening inversion sequence, but the only other new pose seems to be Garudasana towards the end of the practice. Also the backbends get moved to the second half of the practice, after the forward bends.
Tonight I’ll do the new sequence and test out Mr Iyengar’s Urdhva Padmasana. All the poses are familiar and the only difficult ones for me are Lolasana and the three Marichyasanas.
I’ve been doing some solid early morning standing poses to balance out the evening Iyengar sequences which focus heavily on inversions, backbends and forward bends (all floor poses). My body is craving more extreme backbends so I’ll work Urdhva Dhanurasana into my practice somewhere.
I have a few things planned for October:
- one week off work mid-October with no particular agenda, which I will probably use for a self retreat at home.
- at the end of that week I’ll take my daughter and granddaughter camping in the Flinders Ranges for a couple of days (we’re doing our best to convince my son to come as well)
- then off to the pristine wilderness of Kangaroo Island for 4 days camping at the end of October
I’m being pressured at work to use up some accumulated annual leave, so in mid December I’ve organised 2 weeks off work to do another 10 day Vipassana retreat – I think it will be my ninth Vipassana since the year 2000 – that’s one every year except for 2009.
I have mixed feelings and thoughts about doing another one…the process hasn’t felt relevant or useful to me for the last few retreats, but I’ve slogged away at it, sitting for 10-11 hours a day, unfortunately with a sense of wasting precious time.
I think my mixed feelings about Vipassana have been further eroded by my growing affinity with Nature and the desire to spend as much time as I can out in the bush, living and breathing with the trees, plants, animals, birds and insects.
Meditation can be a process of going inward and cutting off. The urge I have is to expand outward to embrace and fully experience the multi-dimensional universe with a deafening awareness.
To do this I need to cultivate an extraordinary state of pure, alive presence, uncluttered by thoughts - the opportunity to do another Vipassana retreat has rekindled my desire for uninterrupted immersion in concentrated meditation where I can develop this state.
I vividly remember on previous retreats how, after a few days sitting for long hours with a singular focus on breath or sensations, all my mental processes quietened. There were moments of extraordinary clarity, pure conscious awareness. Those moments are so potent that they bring about a great shift in consciousness. The mind expands into a new paradigm…a door opens and we enter into a completely new landscape.
Remembering that state of being, and comparing it with my current state of mind, I am talking myself into doing the Vipassana…10 days to sweep out the accumulated mental rubbish, 10 days to clean and purify the mind. With senses unclouded by filtering thoughts, we can experience this earth, this world and this universe with the uncensored clarity of the indigenous mind.