Jon Kabat-Zinn (the father of secular mindfulness) could have been talking about yoga when he said “As long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong with you”. But he wasn’t. He was (as I recall) talking about living with a chronic illness and finding a place of positivity from which all things might become possible. He didn’t over claim, he didn’t ask anyone to believe in miracles; he didn’t go on about the power of positive thought nor ‘mind over matter’. He simply asked for curiosity and openness.
And this is much more difficult than you might imagine!
The idea (or perhaps ideal!) of openness underlies my practice and has done for some time. Or rather, I’d like to think it does. This really is where I try to devote my energies and attention; the shapes are just a physical working out of this. My teacher often talks about creating space in the body as we move in and out of āsana, and I’m slowly coming to realise this is just the tool or the physical expression of something much deeper (I’m sure he teaches that too if I was open to listen…).
Last summer TT really made me confront idea(l)s of openness. Being open to learning, exploring, questioning and reassessing, trying and trying again, keeping faith in the process and in myself. Also open to others, to witnessing their fragilities and uncertainties, to meeting their foibles with equanimity, and — for me the hardest of all — allowing them to pick and probe at my choices, my tendencies and my knowledge as I offered it all up for inspection as though I were presenting something much less initimate than my essence.
Since then Yoga seems to me essentially a practice of remaining open. Or rather a practice of summoning up the courage and curiosity to open again and again after each natural contraction back into safety, privacy, boundedness.
As often I feel on the edge of realising something quite profound. But only if I dare to dive into the depths.