by JillTwo Bees in a Thistle by Heidi Santschi of Heidi Santschi Garden DesignSince it’s summer where I live I’d like to stay a little “light.” So, I thought I would share a question that has come up over the past months several times and see if it resonates or might be something you can play around with in your heart, mind, and body—gently and “lightly.”The question I’ve been asked by others recently is about “advanced practices,” especially as they might be embodied or focused somatically in the body. But right away, this brings up another question of what “advanced” is. This is interesting on many levels, especially with regards towards what many of us believe: that to be advanced means to do something more complex and complicated. As I have come to understand practice over the 30 plus years of exploration and inquiry is that the more simple and unadorned the practice is the more difficult it might be to actually do it. It’s not easy to let go, allow, be with, sit in, notice, or turn towards or away by choice. These words and (ancient) gracious instructions point toward having and or developing a restful and at ease mind, not one that is hardened against thoughts or trying to stop the mind from thinking (it won’t). It takes repeated practice to rest the mind and provide the mind with an easeful body, too—one that is relaxed yet stable and upright, soft yet not falling apart, and not rigid or contracted,. This is much easier said than realized or felt or embodied. The words and phrases can glide or guide us into or toward an experience, but they are really just the finger pointing at the moo. We have to experience the moon for ourselves. It’s easy and often fun to talk about practice, discuss it, analyze it, think about it, promise to do it tomorrow, or more regularly. But do we actually practice? Maybe yes and sometimes not. This isn’t cause for critical appraisal, but it is an opportunity to start where we are and do something as simple, elegant, and yet as challenging to remember to do what we have been guided towards, reminded about. For instance, can you notice how your body is responding as you are reading these words. What are the sensations arising as you are reading? Can you find your breath and maintain awareness of it while reading or even walking or watching the news? Feeling your feet touching the earth can be a lifelong practice and one I never tire of, which challenges me to stay awake and notice where I am at any given time. You can notice the space between your thoughts not just the thoughts themselves and maybe even relax in that space between. Or you can listen to what fills the silence of the night sky, feel a breeze on your skin, really taste a piece of watermelon, or linger in the sensations of receiving or giving a kiss in the warmth of the sun.Some of the greatest teachings I’ve ever received have been from the fortunate opportunities I’ve had to hang around with the most incredible Buddhist teachers and just laugh and be lovingly laughed with. I’ve been metaphorically held with such sweet lightness it began to rub off on me—slowly, slowly.It’s summer now in the Northern Hemisphere—what we’ve waited for all winter—so enjoy the light lasting a little longer and the nights being warmer. And allow yourself to be lighter, freer, and easier. This could be one of the most advanced practices you’ll try and at the very least will train your heart, mind, and body to stay awake with more gentility and ease of being. This spaciousness and lightness of being could bring you some great joy if you allow it to.Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook and Twitter ° To order Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being, go to Amazon, Shambhala, Indie Bound or your local bookstore.Follow Jill Satterfield on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. For information about Jill’s classes, workshops, and retreats, see Jill’s Classes, Workshops, and Retreats and School for Compassionate Action, and for information about Jill and Vajra Yoga jillsatterfield.org.
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