Friday, August 21, 2009

Ashtanga Insight: Guest Blog by Adam K.

Ashtanga Insight
The Virtuous Feedback Loop

A few years ago I heard David Williams speak about ashtanga and he mentioned that it was a feedback loop. That idea has stayed with me and developed.

Early in the mornings coming back to the mat to work on/do primary series. What do I find? I find how I have been for the last like 24 hours. I find out with attention how it feels to get enough sleep or not get enough sleep. To notice the effects of overeating at 10pm the last evening. What it is like to have had a beer and a little bit of some old scotch the night before. So what I find on the mat is what my mind and body is like with how I been treating myself. It is mostly finding out what the consequences are of my time off the mat.

I've tried a mental construct to work with. Let's presume that practicing ashtanga is wholesome/skillful/good for the body-mind. So then those things that create for better practice are the wholesome actions to undertake in one's life. These actions would include bodily actions enough sleep, moderate eating, little to no booze. The mornings after a more than one drink evening my body is much more stiff. There would also be wholesome mental actions. For unwholesome interpersonal relationships and mental actions causes the mind to want to seek escape, quite stressful. So not lying, not stealing, not killing etc, wholesome actions like joy, generosity, kindness, restraint, focus. Humm... seems like clean living that does not diminish enjoyment of life.

Each morning because of the repetition and need to attend to the body and mind during practice I must notice the consequences of the time away from the mat. I notice how much attention I can muster, how my bowels feel, what my breathing is like. The awareness makes me notice, and the noticing does affect how I act off the mat. The awareness and mindfulness (the remembering) builds and during the day I remember a little more what works well and what does not. Choices are more available that have differing consequences. With the insight then there is the opportunity to change so that there is more space for joy, and the small parade of horribles visits a bit less.

This yoga practice is experiencal, see and find out for yourself what you find that works for you.

With this practice I like to remember what a couple of accomplished ashtangis have said:
"Yoga will ruin your life." -Richard Freeman
"Don't let yoga ruin your life." -David Swenson


Anonymous said...

Thanks Amanda
Cool ! I've now guest blogged.

Anonymous said...

since writing this I keep thinking about a Talmudic story...

"When dead and being judged by G-d one gets demerits for the pleasures of life one did not partake."

totally reconcilable, yes?

Brian said...

I was also looking for help on addiction. I found an eating disorder programs center that really helped me out.