Your Brain on Yoga

There is a happiness researcher.  Yes, there is.

It is his research at none other than Harvard University that has generated the relationship between certain rituals and a measurable increase in experiencing what we refer to as happiness.  Even more important is that it is provable(like with charts and numbers and empirical data)that happiness as referred to above results in functional advantages in energy, creativity and intelligence.  These advantages even show up in measurable ways on a bad day when you are stressed or struggling.

I have personally hoped for a pill or an injection as a punchline, but even better it turns out that our meditation and yoga practice takes us most of the way there.

Meditation is a key ingredient in delivering to your brain a juicy cocktail of joy.

Many ask me what is really meant by meditating.  It is fair to be confused because in yoga we meditate in motion and also in stillness.  In general, meditation is calming the mind to a state of ease and peace while continuing to be alert with a certain amount of awareness that is focused inward. It has been referred to as “thoughtless awareness”.
It is easier to know when it is over than when it is happening.

But, what happens in your brain can be measured there,  although the effects are total body.

Some important changes happen in the frontal lobe or cortex.  This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness in meditation it goes offline.  Practically, this helps you out of the planner loop.  The parietal lobe which processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space slows way down. This accounts for the lack of awareness of the passage of time.  Often when I teach meditation, a full hour will have passed but the students will feel like they just put their head down.

The thalamus, gatekeeper for the senses focuses your attention by drawing selected sensory response data deeper into the brain and in some way slowing the number of messages that get in.  Meditating dials back the arousal signals so what is urgent and heart pounding lands softly.

Meditation has also been shown to diminish age-related effects on gray matter and reduce the decline of our memory and actual cognitive function.

This, I suppose has become my pitch.  I have called my meditation class everything just to encourage the fearful, the disinterested the non-believers to try.  I think it is finally time to call it what it is; meditation.  So many people tell me they are not able to sit still.  The insist that others can but their special type of brain is not available for calm.  This drives me nuts.

Meditation is a skill.  It takes practice.  It is true that it is easier for some, but so is everything.  It doesn’t impress me to tell me that you are too busy to meditate or slow down.  I know extremely productive people and the most productive and accomplished among them, understands this…the human body and mind love and require stillness to function at their peak.

Physics teaches us that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.  It is within the capacity of a human to intend to adjust that.  There are many ways to get started.  Only some of them involve another person’s guidance.  I think you should handle this practice by understanding the way you like to take on a new skill.  Would it help you to have a teacher? Can you learn from internet tutorials? Would you like a class?

These are useful inquiries but I am going to give you the secret that will change the trajectory of your body currently in motion.  Ultimately, you will develop the skill of sitting still.  Do that.

A simple approach is to sit with your back supported in a comfortable seat.  Do not expect to sit in full lotus ommmmming to have the real experience.  That is not necessary and frankly, not possible for many.  Just sit.  Not with anything to do.  With nothing to do.  You may make that work for a few breaths and start to work out why this is not for you.  But you just got on the path.  From here you may simply begin by counting your breaths.  Finding the sound of them and listening for them and then counting them.  I am not advocating for any particular style of thoughtless awareness.  I am advocating for you.  This path to quiet and still will eventually call to you and when you have practiced you will gladly visit.  Until that day, take the body in motion and even if just for a breath or two; stop it.

 

 

 

 

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Put your middle finger back where it belongs; directed toward the chaos and darkness

We might just be directing our frustration at the party in closest proximity. It makes our outrage simply an expulsion of rattling irritation and drains it of the values it purports to express.  It also generates a demand for an otherwise unnecessary apology. We are just adding to our list of hanging unfulfilled apologies and not actual lightening what is dark for us or calming what is chaos.  Those we love the most, or spend the most time with are incidentally in the path of our frustrated energy.

Here is what I mean, if you have a terrible drive home and there is inexplicable traffic, I do not care how evolved you are, humans are not meant to live bumper next to bumper for long stretches of time. I have heard yogis tell me that in their enlightened condition after class they are not subject to the vagaries of the common human. You don’t believe that, do you? You shouldn’t and I don’t.  You have created in your system the energy of driving properly and keeping the car and its passengers safe against the challenges of every other obstacle in a commute.  It is extra building energy in your system and it is not sweet loving energy.

When you arrive home or your destination, you may be able to hold onto it briefly,  but at some point that energy converts and releases.  This sounds like the description of another type of conversion we do that is more gastrointestinal.  But, it is like that.  It is more often than not directed at someone or thing completely unrelated to the source of your agitation.  I mean, we all get this.  There is just a time delay in our awareness.  I think we should figure out how to be more immediate.  We should let out in real time.  Don’t get out of the car.  Let anyone else out.  Sit quietly and let out what I would like to refer to as a the urban dwellers version of the primal scream.

Studies show that those who release in the form of cursing feel measurably better and sometimes show reduction in their level of pain on an objective scale.  This may mean that what we have termed bad words can take the charge of your anger and frustration and handle one for the family team.  I don’t think indiscriminate cursing is a great idea, but what about finely tuned, purposely generated and not specifically directed.  A curse at the air, if you will.  I say be creative with it also.  Use curse adjectives and really explicit modifiers before you get to the biggest baddest words.  These are words.  But they feel good and should not be leveled at people.  But, my dashboard has graciously accepted its role in my life.

You can choose quieter means, for sure, but I don’t think we should give ourselves too much credit.  We are capable of great deeds of injustice towards innocent parties who move into our line of site at the wrong moment.  What I am advocating for is clarity about that and quick and well, dirty option to clean up the remains of the day.  Busy times call for efficient measures.

So, redirect the middle finger to nothing in particular or let a full on expletive go into the void.  Then return to your regularly scheduled programming with love and a big sigh.

middle of nowhere is sometimes the best place to be

it’s not quite summer.  it’s not quite fall.  it’s not hot out or really sunny.  it’s not fully dark early yet.  it’s just this half light.  it is hard to be motivated.  there is no obvious deadline. the holidays are a little too far off for a countdown.

there is a certain potential for malaise right now.  the beige synthetic wrinkle free off the rack days before the lovely moments of autumn emerge in the damp swirl of leaves raked off the front porch.

i feel it is tough to be soft and light.  i feel sodden and damp and musty.  sleep comes hard and then lands harder.  morning comes soon and brings no change. nothing changes.  no switch is turning on and nothing is big or important or pivotal.

yet.

the simple turn of the seasons when it is not at a harsh vertex that is a direct line into the next clearly defined place.

that is where i am.

it is disconcerting. sort of itchy like a sweater that just slightly irritates but not enough to get rid of or take off. it is a low grade sense of agita.

maybe this is good.  maybe this is how transition happens naturally.  not in abrupt screeching directional pivots but by pressing through routine.

this may be where the rubber really hits the road.  it is so easy to be energized when energy is abundant.  it is easy to be active when all lights are green and you are without immediate obstacles and there is a project or life change on the horizon.  a project  of your making or not.  maybe this is the down time during which we can reflect or pause from reflecting but allow the next thing to arise.  to watch the horizon.

maybe nothing will arise or many things may and i will be able to choose the one that calls me.

but today. i am quiet. it is quiet.

maybe, not everything has to feel like a fire that needs stoking or putting out.  maybe the good stuff is hidden in these mild mannered transitions, waiting to be called on like the quiet hand raised in the back of the class.  so, i will relax into this and not allow quiet to be labeled boredom or inactivity, lazy. i can let quiet be vital and inspirational.  i know that there are things to look forward to that get placed in my path; but this quiet asks me to generate something or just accept what shows up.  i will work with that.  for today, i don’t need to create anything and if something shows up, i don’t need to do anything about it.  for today, i will just re-caption the space between the seasons.  i will allow the dough of my spirit to rise unforced and see what i can make happen when i am ready to make something happen but not a moment before.

i think it feels better just to agree to be waiting.  it feels better to agree that i might not do anything, and i might not respond to possibilities that come my way or i might.  this means nothing about who i am, lazy, determined, inert or driven, ambitious, dull.  it only says something about how i am being right now. maybe, i will choose to learn the lessons of pulling up the covers and lying quietly for a little while before i jump up and take on the next thing.

 

yoga can be habit forming

When we step our big toe into the yoga pool, it is not necessarily to add something to our lives that will take lots of time, often create frustration, sore muscles or missed cocktail hours with friends.  We take it on generally speaking to fix what feels like a problem in our lives.  What it becomes is something that takes lots of time, often creates frustration, sore muscles and has us miss cocktail hours with friends.

This is not to say that you or your life need fixing, by the way.  You do not and life is what it is.  It is also not because seeking a fix is in and of itself the real matter.  In point of fact, “you” are permanent and perfect.  The stuff that feels like it needs fixing sits on top of the perfection you are and obscures it.  The expression of you is clouded or dulled by the layers of life that are a natural component of human being-ness. Being a human is by its nature, complex, messy and really exhausting.  This truth cannot be fixed or changed.  The feel of it is, however, often improved by stepping on a mat and taking on the practice of yoga.  .  What you find once you dip past the big toe and make your way to neck deep or even one day fully submerged in it, is that what felt broken or in need of fixing, is not where your attention is any longer.  That the energy of a problem has diminished, at least, in comparison to the energy you begin to spend on practicing and feeling better.  This is why it is a path not just a pin in a google map.

How does this happen?  Sometimes, it is as simple as the improved sense of freedom of movement in the body  that just feels good.  Sometimes, it is the body feeling awake and vital which may be new or may stoke lovely memories.  Sometimes, it is because we could use some company or some quiet.  You could access either.  Sometimes, in truth, it is because, despite your efforts at liking it, you don’t; but your ego and curiosity keep you in it long enough to get to an appreciation and by then it is too late.   You are a yogi.  If you are lucky, it is because someone loved it for you, until you loved it for yourself.

Why does it happen? Well, this is easy.  Because, despite the tension in your life, the reluctance you have that this might be a cult, your overfilled schedule, and your worry about your old lacrosse injury,  yoga is wonderful.  Not all presentations of yoga.  Let’s call it what it is today; burgeoning business.  However, many of us continue to draw the thread of deep spiritual and physical practice forward from a vast well of sacred, detailed and brilliant instruction.   The dedicated efforts of those of us who do not intend to dilute it, but expand it and move it forward are here.  We love it out loud, so it will reach the stiff, cranky, uninspired and totally in-need.  We promise to love it for you, until you love it for yourself.  I will love it for you until and beyond then.  So, because there are inspired teachers like myself, seeking out those who are not seeking and commingling them with those already knee deep or submerged, there is a movement.  Movements are exciting.  Also, because the practice itself when undertaken with inspired help is awesome.  Not in the Hollywood vernacular use of the word, but in the auspicious and sacred use.  Yoga is awesome.

When will it happen for you?  Well, if you are not looking, believe me, I am not alone as a yoga teacher in looking for you.  It matters to me that people find their inner yogi.  I prefer everyone at my grocery store to have some meditation and yoga practice under their belt before they are entrusted to the 12 items or less line.  I aspire to be in traffic jams that are full of yogis enjoying the moment of stillness.  But, more importantly, the practice will find you if I don’t.  That is part of the magical quality of it that surprises even the skeptics.  Someone will bring you, you will wander in, a coupon will arrive in the mail or the butcher shoppe next door to your dry cleaner will become a yoga studio.

What then? Then, I let the practice itself do the magic of reaching in and waking up the sleeping wonderful “you” that has always been there and has always been perfect.  This will then become the way you work out whatever is happening.  There is no need for fixes, just time on the mat to shift and sort and move and breathe “you” into full expression.  For clarity, things will continue to happen that feel like they are problems that need fixing.  We are not unclear in my world that the other word for life can be an expletive some days.  We really do get this. It drives me nuts when the self help section of any bookstore is shouting that the problems in your life came to you from you.  They did not.  You did not invite trouble or difficulty or even disease.  But you can manage the fact of it.  The path of choice is, the path of practice.  Yoga.  The solution has always been “you” in full effect.

Soul Today? Maybe not.

Are you adding your soul to practice or just moving through the motions? Practice takes dedication over time because there is repetition; but when you stand for something when you stand on your mat, honestly, it can grow with you and move you and sometimes move others. We think changing the address of practice or adding a tweak is contributing to lives and to “The Practice”. Yoga doesn’t need tweaking. It isn’t a brand that needs a re-launch. Creativity can help to keep things fresh but yoga is guru tested and sage approved over time and if you want to make a difference, grow your practice and share it honestly with those who have not found it yet. To truly innovate, would have to come from a deep creative well of love that has your souls signature artistry on it. That can happen, but not every day and not because you took a new picture or gave your practice a name. Maybe today you are expressing honest artistry or today you are a practitioner that stays with it even when it is rainy and you are not motivated. Be clear that it is not advancing the practice to post about it, tweet about it or blurb about it. That may serve to let people you know and don’t know…know, but it does not grow what is essential. There is no soul in -so-cial media…there isn’t.
To create is bigger than that.
So, here is just, a sigh and
a rainy day look at what it might take to get me to the mat right now and discern if today I can add the soul or is today a day I just stay in the practice by repeating the moves until true inspiration wells up. I will let those I know and don’t know…know. I will step onto the mat and I will have to be clear with myself if today inspires or just hangs on. There is not a new address or a new label or brand or post that solves the essential challenge of yoga, but adding your soul helps. #samesongsameverse #samesongnewtune #createdontrecreate #goatyoga #thatsnotathing #itsnotinnovativetillyouaddacat #youdontneedtoaddacat #somedaysareharder #dontquit #yogaisnotabrand #accessyoursoul #behonest

Totally Inflexible

A friend recently wrote that she resisted trying yoga because she couldn’t even touch her toes. I often hear that someone is not going to try yoga because they are not flexible. Sometimes it is because they feel unable to sit still and sometimes because they think that is all we do in yoga is touch toes or sit still.  Stillness and flexibility can make yoga seem conceptually strange and unattainable for an energetic person. In my practice, I set out to do two things: first be clear that if you can already touch your toes, that piece of the practice isn’t what we would work on and second I need for you to believe in the incredible advantages of being able to bend deeply if you can and even if you now can’t and second I share the true power of getting a very busy mind and body to be still particularly if it is difficult for you. I shared with this friend that I try to set the bar for flexibility pretty low by doing this stuff myself and I am the tightest hamstring in most rooms,  but yoga asks that you come as you are and by agreeing to show up as you are, you get to become who you are, which is assuredly a good thing. Its you 2.0. Its you in your best and better version.  I always remember that the intrinsic “who” of you is fixed and perfect.  The layering we put on top is most often of someone else’s design and you never chose it or felt comfortable with it. Good news, it is removable and disposable.

By the way, Bowing forward to touch your toes is difficult for most of us who like to see what’s coming. Those of us who put energy into planning and controlling life to whatever level of success resist the requirement to let go completely in order to bow down. Utanasana (standing forward bend) is actually about releasing the primordial need to stand and face your fights but instead to close your eyes and free fall forward and surrender to them peacefully. The metaphor in your body is that when you stop resisting and do let go …. your hip hinge brings your heart to touch your legs and allows your crown to be suspended over the earth. This new freedom feels wonderful. It is so terrific in fact that you begin to recreate it even as you return to your upright and locked position.  You keep the sense of surrender as you stand up and walk into your life’s chaos. It was never about touching your toes but when you move and breathe in that direction eventually you may find and grab them but it wont really ever have been the point. Ruah!

The Throat

The location of the 5th Chakra

Visudhana
The center of self-expression, situated between the head and the heart negotiating the questions raised by thought and reacted to by emotion.

Most of us have felt the urge to roll our neck to release tension whether we indulge it or not…
Words thought but unsaid
Love felt but unexpressed
Hurt tolerated and not released …

These are the gravel caught in your throat creating a blockage
A tight neck and shoulders are your body requesting relief asking that you clear the gravel
The other side of the expression coin is the dreaded
TMI or worse blurting out hurtful criticism
Like toothpaste from the tube it cannot go back

Not everything should be expressed
That is universally known and not universally practiced
The 4 Gates of Speech in the Yogic tradition are the basis for a balanced 5th Chakra
The four filters through which all words should be passed before they are released in communication
are:

1. Is it true
2. Is it kind
3. Is it necessary
4. Is this the right time

The words that filter through these gates as ideas expressed out loud are the safe ones that you shouldn’t be afraid to release

A secondary benefit of keeping this in balance is that as the throat is opened, the pelvis and hips can move more freely indicating the nexus between self-expression and passion. And once again proving that Shakira was a sage.

Words Matter

Words matter.

How you say what you say matters.

C. S., Lewis said, “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

In Sanskrit if you change the pronunciation of a word, by slightly adjusting where in your mouth you create the sound or swap a long vowel for a short vowel, you are probably using a completely different word.  Different word. Different meaning.  For instance: Dharma means the teachings, reality, truth. However, dhārma (long ā) is justice.  Darma similar sound, when said by Americans but with no “h”…means destroyer or demolisher.  Big difference. Truth to destruction in one letter.  Don’t drop the “h”.

How you say what you say matters.  Because words properly pronounced with intention behind them can change the world.

You can’t just string together peaceful cosmic words and create a difference in the world.

Buddha said, “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.”

Buddha was not really referring to the pronunciation but in part the articulation of a manifestation rather than a simple recitation.

We love words that sound loving, so we use them and fully miss the meanings that come from the impact they could have when they are truly set in motion by intention.

We say them only; but they are not full of the life they need to be catalysts or reporters of transformation or seeds of creation.

We say them without any intention or maybe we just skip the actions.

We memorize and reiterate easy combinations of language to decorate our palate and don’t bite down on anything hard or uncomfortable but maybe necessary.

We push away what feels unsavory and fill in with delightful fonts and artistic turns of phrase.

We hide behind pre-designed imprints from an urban dictionary or the latest decorative app.

In what I do, I read and hear so much wordplay and verbal nonsense about trust and love and joy and awareness and mindfulness and oh my goodness, the poor overused word community!

I just do not see the commitment to any of it.  I want to see it.  I want to be in community that swells with and overflows the meaning of the word.

I see instead sometimes, just strings of words that have become syllables but not living things. that blossom to full potential.

We need to stand for the words. We need to stand with them on some foundation to earn the right to use some of these sacred refrains; earn the full sense of what was intended when the word was uttered into being.

It is a responsibility to invoke community.

I also worry about the often repeated word “peace”.  It is on tee shirts and billboards but doesn’t live around us.

I can’t even write it sometimes.

My thumbs pause and the my heart skips and I worry that it is just lip service to such an enormous hope and prayer.  I want to open up the gift of the word and unwrap the full potential of it, the honor of it;

so that I can share the incredible blessing that peace is.

I know how easy it is to post and repost and tweet and retweet and insta this or snap that.

I call us out.

I call us all on our  recycled artisanal kumbucha drenched “journeys” for personal growth that are dripping with language like delicate glass ornaments, dangling and beautiful but easy to shatter.

I call us to come out from behind the photos and the posts and the lovely fonts and the repeated and stolen phrases and the latest apps to beautify moments that may already have been beautiful in their original honesty or were not anything at all but rigged pretense set up on a 10 second timer that we stamped a slogan to.

I suggest we look to excavate for meaning’s potential as if it were our own potential.

Look to the Dharma.

I say we deeply embed the words with the actions that give them life and honesty and season them with full on gratitude.  Gratitude that we have thumbs attached to small complex smart gizmos that we use to record what is trivial, but is also available to record and share what is sacred and sublime.

I challenge us to earn the words.

Pythagoras said, “Silence is better than unmeaning words.”

We can stand for their active manifest meaning when we feel deeply moved and raise our fists over the sentiments we cannot stand for.  We should also not dismiss words as “mere” utterances.  I acknowledge the power of repetition even for its own sake.  It appears particularly vigorous when a negative or hateful utterance is repeated.  But, let’s begin with empty phrases that are meant to be flush with heart.

Step in front of your smart phones or come out from behind the endless thumbs ups and emojis; challenge each other to not just share words but to do and be something beautiful and important and not just a little bit difficult.  Then have at it… share that.

In this way the words are given meaning as they refer back to the truth of the matter.  They are given the life they had when they were designed to represent an idea, expressed by a mouth and heard by a heart for the purpose of communicating peace or community.

I stop myself and ask what am I saying and does it correlate to what I am doing to honor the words themselves?

I watch the instagram world and I really want to comment sometimes, but that’s too easy.

I will just start here by remembering to keep the “h” in Dharma.

Moving Meditation

In order to have peace and joy, you must succeed in having peace within each of your steps. Your steps are the most important thing.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Basic Approach to a Straight Path Walking Meditation

To begin a walking meditation, first simply stand. Just stand on one spot.  Be still in your body and in your standing be aware of the weight pressing through the soles of your feet into the earth. Tune into all of the subtle movements that we naturally undertake to stay upright. It is not necessary to take a mudra, but it does help create the distinction between just strolling and an intentional experience.  Curl the thumb of your left hand in and wrap your fingers around it. Place it just above your belly button and wrap your right hand around it.  Slip the right thumb to rest in the space formed between your left thumb and index finger. This creates a point of purchase to land your stray energy and helps to set up the sensation of being in balance and stable.  As an added benefit this will keep your arms from swinging which can either be a rhythmic focus or a complete distraction.

For this type of walking meditation, choose a straight path of about 30 feet long. On this path you will walk back and forth between two specific points.  This allows you to let go of the call of your fit bit(keep it on, don’t check it).  Mostly let go of needing to get somewhere.

You can practice barefoot, or wearing your comfy shoes. Stand upright, with your eyes cast down about a two yards ahead and use a soft gaze, maha drishti,  that is not the feel of looking at anything in particular. On your very simple course your gait does not need to be careful to avoid obstacles and your peripheral vision can tighten in because you only need to put one foot in front of the other.

 

Taking it up a notch to a Hiking Meditation

You may choose the path of a challenging hike to create a state of meditation.  Be completely aware as you walk of the process of walking.  Keep your attention on the soles of the feet, and all the sensations originating there as they arise and then as you move on, so do they.  Let feelings come up from the foot, through the length of the leg over the hips to the heart. As you move forward, move through them and then past them.  Feel the muscles in your legs and feet tense flex as you lift the leg.  Encourage a deep visceral experience of rising through the body and passing on and through each emotional response.

This begins to create a rhythm of experiencing sensation as transitive and ephemeral and correlating this to emotion helps to develop the bodily awareness that sensation and the corresponding emotional responses are things that you can pass into and then through as you move on. In the rhythmic hike note that as the foot comes up there is a moment that is distinct from the moment it comes down. When it comes down again into contact with the path, it is a new moment and maybe a new opportunity for sensation to trigger emotion so feel it and then feel it pass.   You can change your pace but notice it and stay within a speed range that lets you stay connected to the experience.

Stop if you feel like it. Stand still or sit down. But, be clear about the moment you are ready to come to the end.  The finish should feel like a natural moment of conclusion.  You’re not freezing on the spot; you’re just allowing yourself to come to a stop. Experience yourself standing. Just notice what it’s like to no longer be in motion; just standing on the earth in a new place to close the practice in stillness.

Remember

If something catches your eye while hiking or walking and you just can’t let go of it; stop and look.  Make it a looking meditation. When you feel finished, continue walking. If you find that you’re getting drowsy or distracted, you can use a mantra and repeat it in your head on the whisper of breath in and out. Increase the speed of repetition if the mind insists on wandering or try walking faster.

Ruah

Drishtis

We refer to specific focused gazing points as Drishtis.  In the discipline of yoga, these points are to call your attention and direct the energy lines of your pose but also to help you firmly reject the calls that are coming in from the rest of your life.  It is important to reflect on the instruction to adhere to very well defined focal points.  This creates repercussions in the turn of the head, the release of the neck, the direction of the energy lines and importantly what you think about.  It is not to push your other thoughts away, but rather to choose what you attend to and what is just outside your peripheral vision.  The suggestion comes from the eyes but is for the benefit of the mind.

You may find your gaze on the practitioner next to you or at your unmanaged pedicure, but the benefit of a soft single pointed gaze is found not in your capacity to analyze what is in your view.  It is really to use the nature of narrowing your attention to expand the space around the concrete distractions of living a life.  Drishti also refers to your point of view or your cache of wisdom.  There are specific instructions for each asana(pose) as to where to take your gaze, but I like to remember that the life-asana you live in can have your unique drishti.  This refers to how you focus your time and attention as the options and distractions grow out of proportion to your capacity to be all-discerning.  It is true as you tune into one thing, something else falls out of view.  Akin to ripe fruit falling from a tree; if not attended to in time it may fall and become rotten or snatched by another.  Maybe it wasn’t your fruit anyway.  Maybe someone else needed it more.  We need, despite the frustration of it, to learn to focus our attention so that we can have enough of it to make any particular experience meaningful.  To overdue the metaphor, we can look at a tree full of ripe fruit and it is beautiful in its entirety but to benefit from the fruit of it, you need to pick a piece that is ripe for you.  Then the rest is not wasted to you, but is just not for you.

To incorporate that idea in an understanding of the traditional use of the 9 Drishtis of Ashtanga, is to embrace pratyahara, turning inward for self-exploration.  Choosing wisely and choosing certainly without regret.  Among many of the seeming contradictions in yoga is the idea that fixing on a specific outward gaze assists in the practice of turning inward.

The most revered Drishti is to gaze upward to the sky off into the infinite, but throughout history, critical epiphanies and shark tank winners have come from staring directly at the navel for indefinite periods of time.  Take this at face value.

Ruah