Tag Archives: attention

dristi and saving daylight

One gift that the darkness of winter offers is an appeal to inward reflection. When the outer eye’s view is obscured, whether by darkness, by dream, by death, or by obstacle, we are encouraged to turn in to see. It is here, in and behind what is observable that our intuition, perceptibility, and deep wisdom are nourished, and often, born. Through svadhaya – self-reflection or self-study – the yoga is always an invitation into this intimate work. It refers to honing our consideration of patterns that bubble up from less than our highest places, and a noticing practice for the effects of our habits and behaviors. Svadhyaya is getting to know oneself as an inherent step in the process of improving the way we move in the world. Much of the time, svadhyaya is a commitment made on the practitioner’s behalf. Occasionally, we receive svadhyaya support from the outside – utter darkness, dream space, a particular relationship or experience that forces us to look within for a reflection of the truth. If we are confident that we are in the right place at the right time, we call these things inspiring, even “teachers”. And if we are not so grounded, we might run from the very same things, screaming.

After spring ahead daylight savings, the evening classes at Shree are suddenly completed in the daylight, and at least a little of the internal, intimate energy of a class in the quiet of dark, is lost. Having led 5:30-7 evening yoga classes for bunches of years, this springtime change always tosses me, a bit. As an act of rebellion, ‘cause I think daylight savings is kinda bunk and discombobulating, my classes this week have been all about dristi – focusing the organs of the eyes through the transitions of asana. Dristi has been presented to me as “the eyes look here in this posture”, and I have found great power in following the dristi rules. For sure, looking to one particular place rather than all over the room, is an improvement for a distracted mind. As I understand, there are nine possible dristi points the yogini could be “looking”, though the direction of the outer eyes does not necessarily delineate what we are seeing. Sure, it refers to an internal relationship of the structural form of the posture to the nervous system – by aligning skull and eyes to what is happening throughout the body, channels for optimum movement of prana are also aligned, thus improving the effects of the posture. But also dristi is a external seal of the relationship between inner and outer sight, or perception and attention.

Sutra 37 of the Radiance Sutras 112 Gateways to the Yoga of Wonder & Delight states :

nirvrksa giri bhitty adi dese drstim viniksipet
viline manase bhave vrtti ksinah prajayate

as translated by Lorin Roche :

go to a wide-open space
gaze without looking anywhere.

the mind stops its building of thoughts,
and rests on its own foundation –
immensity.

the light you see by
is the light that comes from inside.

By choosing one point or channel of focus, the mind is stilled. When the fluctuations of the mind are calm, the deeper knowing that the mind is capable of digesting, is more available. To look beyond the veil of what the outer eyes can see is to step through a gateway into the divine mystery of the boundless. A simple practice of concentration, which is where the dristi work fits in to the ashtanga system – the limb of dharana – becomes an open door to see beyond the obvious, to dream, to imagine, and to connect our single selves with something bigger. As we step over the threshold of tomorrow’s new moon, and Tuesday’s new season and new year with the sun’s drop into Aries for another round, mind where your eyes are. What is it you are looking to create? What has been taking up space on your screen? What do you see when your eyes are closed? What do you wish to gaze upon in the coming cycles? As you look with respectful, and curious eyes to your place in the universe, may you be lit up from the inside.

Big respect and Love, Suki Ola

Advertisements

Attention, Attention…

These last weeks leading up to the election I have been completely distracted. More interested in the movement at Standing Rock than the movement toward the White House. What is taking place at Standing Rock, in my eyes, is as important, if not more so, than the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement, the movement to abolish slavery, and the movement to liberate this country from the jowls of the English Monarchy. Again, that’s just my opinion…and I feel rightly so.

Life without clean water is no life at all! Mini Wiconi, water is life.

An avid fan of great novels, up on the list of personal favorites sharing space with War and Peace, East of Eden, and Jitterbug Perfume is the entirety of the Dune series by Frank Herbert. Of course like any series, some of the books are better than others, but like all of the greats this work touches on more than a plot that turns pages. Water is life after all and the Dune series navigates the reader through a conversation around the extraordinary power of water…economy, ecology, philosophy, theology, politics, love, water is the current that moves all these streams in Frank Herbert’s fictional universe, and in our natural universe as well.

I feel fortunate that my lamentation in regards to the presidential election is shared by most of those in my social circles, but I know it is not shared by all in my sphere or otherwise. So much of what happens in our elections is a generating of fanaticism for our “team”. And much like a favorite team winning or loosing a major sports title, we as fans feel fully let down or overwhelmingly elated when our candidate wins or looses. As a result of this election many of those in my social circles were feeling down and out while looking forward toward a vision they do not feel they can align with.

Walking into my favorite coffee shop the day after the election was a somber experience. A dear friend of mine who was there responded to my inquiries of her welfare by stating her desire to join the revolution of love. “Where is it?” she asked. “At Standing Rock” I responded.

What is and has been taking place at Standing Rock is a powerful faction of humanity facing a vision it does not align with and looking through eyes of forgiveness and spirit. There is nothing more beautiful and powerful than this! Dignity and self respect shine through the veils of corporate greed and corruption. Integrity with principles outshines the need for convenience and ease. Patience walks alongside fear and uncertainty. Through prayer and forgiveness a movement is gaining momentum and it is a revolution of love.

No matter our political affiliations and leanings, no matter our socioeconomic backgrounds, no matter our racial legacies, spiritual pursuits, relationship status, we all need clean water to survive. Every single living being on this planet needs water to live. The planet itself is 96.5% water.

It’s easy to turn our attention toward what bothers us, the wheels of the aggravating thoughts of our mind spin unrepentantly until we turn our attention elsewhere. I made a choice to not pay too much attention to the presidential election because my attention and my prayers have bee, and continue to be elsewhere. The roots of the word attention come from the Latin ad tandere translated simply as to stretch toward. It is an act of our will to turn our attention toward a place that is new or unknown, much like approaching a deeper asana or new relationship. The places we focus our attention become the ruts or samskaras of our minds, the places where it is easy for our thoughts to go, from which we base our observations, opinions, judgments, and choices. While practice on the mat stretches our attention with focus in the midst of intensity, the work on our mat is truly just training for the work off of our mat. So that in the midst of what life has to offer us we have the capacity to turn our attention to that which is aligned with something bigger than our ego’s desire to be right…or even to know at all. With practice we become skillful at remembering heart in the face of adversity, forgiveness in the face of long lasting deceit, and love in the face of fear.

May your practice return you to our shared experience, one of challenge, dignity, adversity, spirit, deceit, love, the unknown, and so much more. May we all join the revolution of love no matter who’s side we align too. May we remember that even though they did not win for 108 years, the Cubs finally had there day, and love too will have its day and many more that follow. May we take steps toward the salvation love offers every day through mindful attention, forgiveness, and acts of peace. And through it all, may we enjoy fresh water, clean air, and warm hugs that dispel the false boundaries of separation worn like a jersey of a sports team!

With love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy,

Genevieve