Saturday, June 11, 2011

mind, experience and stimuli

Sutra 3.38 "By mastering the forces that transmit sensations from the body to the mind, it is possible to master the external stimuli. For instance, one can tolerate water at any temperature or the effects of thorns, or one can walk on unstable surface, and even feel as light as a balloon." (Desikachar translation).

This sutra comments on how much the mind has to do with what we call external stimuli. Like hunger, or lack of external stimuli; food :-) Desikachar brings up an example I know too well: the child who cries violently for food and the next minute plays and smiles, all absorbed by the game. This are my kids when they were smaller.

I know this very well in my self, sometimes I get so hungry it almost hurts and I get really irritated and edgy to be with. Other times I’m so absorbed by the work or asana that I forget time and space.. and meals.

Desikachar also brings up the example of how one mans the trouble of walking in a jungle is the other mans trouble of walking in Manhattan, for the person who grew up in the tropics, in warmth of the tropics are no bother at all, just like cold arctic winter doesn’t cause distraction for the person who grew up here.

This addresses how the mind affects our experience by being a “storehouse of experiences”. Experiencing hot and cold, or the steadiness or unstableness of what we walk on is affected by our mind and our previous experiences (habits) but it doesn’t have to, is the fine message of this sutra. We all can get perfectly free from the domination of mind, by engaging in certain practices, like pranayama.

As a teacher I know that certain in asanas it helps to .. offer a possible distraction to the mind, so that the experience of being a long time in the pose doesn’t talk us out of being there. It can be of applying details and variation. This is also the toughest part of self-practice, to stay longer in an asana that brings about an effect after, but is tough during the “stay”. For me this is typical for poses that brings strength, I just want to get out of them – they almost feels painful to me. I have a few of the poses which bring about flexibility and serenity (haha) that almost gives me an explosion of thoughts about getting out of the pose. Hard, when there is nobody, but me, to keep me in the pose. Last year I put an egg-clock on five minutes in some poses, just to stay longer, but it was not the same as having a teacher to tell me to stay.
jenni Saunte

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