Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Like your hair is on fire!

I see that my theme lately has definitely been balance.  And I always wonder, geez, is there really anything new left to say about this concept?  It's basically the definition of yoga.  Asana and savanasa, struggle and relaxation, strength and flexibility, kicking and stretching (equal and simultaneous, 50-50, the harder you kick, you can balance forever...)  You know the drill!

However, I've been remembering something important about balance lately: it is an incredibly active process.  You can't always just sit back and wait for it to find you.  Even though this word "balance" has these rather calm and relaxing connotations for me, you ain't gonna get there by just sitting back and waiting.  You have to KICK.  AND stretch.  Balance comes from a combination of active processes.  Even in the simple act of standing still, balanced on your two feet, your body is making hundreds of tiny adjustments every second to keep you in equilibrium.  It's physics, it's chemisty; just because you're in an equilibrium state, that doesn't mean that there's not a LOT going on!

The Tibetans have a saying about meditation that I am absolutely in love with: we should do our (meditation) practice "as if our hair was on fire."  That's the level of immediacy and urgency that they bring to their practice.  

The idea (and I'm paraphrasing horribly here) is that we are here in this painful place (an unbalanced life, a world full of pain), and we need to get out of it, just the same way we would immediately try to escape from a burning building.  Don't be complacent.  Your hair is on fire!  You've got to do something about it!  And as Bikram says... (I just love this)... "What you waiting for??  Somebody come and help you?!"  It's all up to you.

You've got to balance like your hair's on fire, and this is the only way out of the burning building... through your asana practice, through your meditation (moving or still), through the yoga of your life...


lifelonglearner19 said...

J! Great post. This "as if your hair was on fire" concept reminds me of my class last Sunday. Not only did I encounter a tough instructor (one of my fav's) at 8:30am, but also I ended up practicing behind another, equally tough, instructor. Recipe for destruction. I thought, "Great. Awesome - I better be on my best behavior. No matter what - attempt EVERYTHING!" I ended up totally rocking the class. After I thought about what my practice would be like if I had that drive EVERY class. It's not that I don't give %100 in every class, because I do, but sometimes I force 110% and I'm in it to win it no matter how I feel...and it pays off. Needless to say I told myself to behave in that same manner the next day at the 6pm, and it worked and made great strides...though stairs became an issue for the next 2 days. Beautiful, isn't it!!

I've been focusing a lot on balance as I curl down in Standing Head to Knee, also. Pick a spot to focus on, round down. Pick a spot to focus on, round down. Focus and calm lead to my balance. (Then I'm totally out of breath when I come out, but whatever, I'll get there eventually!) :-)

Balance is so key. So key! And fascinating and ever changing in our daily lives.

bikramyogachick said...

I love this post! I wrote about balance one time after noticing the tiny tiny adjustments my foot kept making while in standing head to knee. It really is a very active thing. Interesting!

hannahjustbreathe said...

I struggle with and strive for balance each and every day, in and out of that yoga studio. I have a feeling that struggling and striving will last me all my days. I don't mind the fire, but let's hope I still have some hair left in the end... :)

Duffy Pratt said...

I like this pose too, but I can't help but think of those tibetan monks who doused themselves in gasoline, sat down in a meditative pose, and then incinerated themselves. There is such a thing as taking an expression too literally.

thedancingj said...

LB - YAY, that sounds awesome.

Michelle - Yessssss, exactly.

Hannah - "... hope I still have some hair left in the end." HAH!!! I hear you on that!!

Duffy - They did WHAT?!? Yikes!