Integrating It All
A few years ago, while I was teaching yoga for a monastic retreat at IMS with Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta, the three of us went for a walk together. Somewhere along the way, in the natural course of getting to know each other, Ayya Ananda Bodhi asked me what my practice was. I responded without missing a beat, “Being mindful of everything,” I said, or words to that effect, followed by, “which, of course, is impossible”. She responded with something like, “it’s not impossible for a Buddha…”, and if memory serves, we both smiled.
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I have been working on moving this website for Middle Path Healing Arts from and outdated platform to a slick new-to-me host, designed to be “easy, fast and beautiful” according to their ads. What an interesting process! It’s got me reflecting again on the great good fortune of what, when I talk to myself about it, I call integrative practice.
Last night, after many hours of peering at words and images that represent “me” to “the world”, I noticed my heart feeling hard and my body feeling tight and sore. I realized I had gotten disconnected, from the fullness of the moment, from the bodily aspects of experience, and from the heart-wish to care for myself.
In response to that noticing, this morning, I made a commitment to myself, to continue this work only after setting a much clear intention: to approach it from fully embodied awareness and to stop if that becomes impossible. This blog post serves both to help me do that (feeling the smooth hardness of finger pads on laptop keys, noticing the slight tightness in the body breathing, watching the face of the thoughts…) and to share it with you, who may like to try it too…
Going to get up now, and make a cup of tea, and honor the body’s need to move for a few minutes…
One thing I’ve noticed already is that attending in a holistic way, in other words to the body and heart-sense as well as to the thinking processes, while working on a project like this one, causes me to work more slowly, with less forward pitch toward the outcome. It brings a softer, more reflective quality into play.
Another noticing is that it’s challenging to stay awake when deep in thought, hence the expression, I suppose. Getting up frequently and moving and stretching the body really helps prevent or at least counter the tendency toward what I would call over-focus.
For me the guiding practice questions sound something like this, “How am I living life right now? What are the internal forces at play here? Is it possible to soften and widen into this?”