Shinzen Young in “The Science of Enlightenment” tells of a clinical study of brain waves and meditation. Researchers discovered that novice meditators gradually tuned out a recurring sound but experienced meditators had the same brain wave signals over long periods of time, each time the sound was made.

A young friend is enamored with the quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I don’t think she has ever heard of Friedrich Nietzsche and she usually makes it personal…”what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. It is my sense she uses it as a way to distance herself from her past pain, the pain in her daily life and to absolve herself of future pain.

I made an offer to lease two spaces yesterday. One for a yoga studio and the other, two doors down, for a healing center. In my investigation of the financial viability of the studio I researched different flooring possibilities. I teach my public classes now at the Living Aikido Dojo. There are a lot of things I like about 3″ thick pads at the dojo. I appreciate them in kneeling or supine poses, the way they cushion the knee and the spine and I just generally like to roll around like a monkey.

I also see how tough they are on the wrists in balance poses and the added challenge in standing balance poses. I have tentatively decided on a floating wood floor with the idea that I would offer and suggest usage of some type of cushion.

I have many “issues”, the issue having to do with hard floors and yoga is the way I habituate to the discomfort in my knees, hips and back. The “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” method. “Ignore the pain long enough, put it out of my awareness and it will become numb” school of non-thought.

My belief, my core belief, blended into what I call Hara Yoga, is that I can tolerate sensation without becoming accustomed to it. I can maintain my awareness of current sensations without reacting to them, feel into the physical as well as the mental and emotional components and then assess all of the available possibilities before taking action that is in line, aligned with, my intentions, goals and aspirations. Toleration can bring a pervasive awareness.

Using the knee on the floor as an example. I move into low lunge. At one extreme I can put all of my weight onto my knee with the idea that if I tolerate the pain, the pain will eventually go away.  At the other extreme I completely shift the weight onto my front foot and the top of my trailing foot to remove all of the weight from the knee. I run to or run away from the pain sensations as a reaction.

A possibility that I’ve spent the last five years investigating, bit of a slow learner am I, is that I can put my knee on the floor and really feel it. Feel not only the physical sensations but also the mental and emotional components. What script plays in my head and what feelings are present. I find the little voice that says I deserve the pain, the other voice saying that I am weak for resisting it and the stern voice chastising that I will be a complete failure if I move away from it. I feel the young place where as a child I felt like I had to maintain my composure at all costs. I feel the future fear that if I don’t push myself physically I will “get old”…. I feel the urge to cry up-welling.

I begin to follow the physical sensation and investigate possibilities. What if I increase the pressure on my trailing foot, pushing it into the ground? I feel the increased stress in the front line of my leg and into the quad connections in my hip. I am stretching and strengthening, that is good! I breathe, actively relaxing my low belly feeling the tension leave my chest. As I tuck my tailbone, pulling my pubic bone strongly toward my sternum, my low back relaxes. I find an equanimity that spontaneously softens my shoulders, neck, jaw and temples.

Physically, I am protecting my vulnerable knee while increasing strength, flexibility and fluidity. Mentally, I am becoming aware of the limiting thoughts and beliefs I carry. Emotionally, I am feeling my fears without reacting, allowing them a voice that fades into the distance. There is an emotional blossoming that happens high in my chest and I smile as magic, happy chemicals are released by my brain.

Low lunge becomes a spiritual experience. I am laughing the laugh of the ecstatic.

I have set my intention for the offer for the spaces to be accepted. I say a prayer that my young friend will find the space to allow the magic, happy chemicals into her life.


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