I have another confession to make. Aside from not having been a regular meditator, I have a hard time holding my ground for extended periods of time, and I find it to be such a pain in the ass. Emotionally and spiritually, I loose ground, forget easily my Greatness, just like everyone else. While it’s the whole concealment-and-revelation game, or hide and seek, that Consciousness in its perfection likes to play with us, it is a pain in the ass to feel awful on those days. I’ve also blamed it on hormones, too much coffee, on New York living, on winter – the reality of those things certainly contributing, and I’ve done all of that. Others sometimes just label me ‘moody’, or ‘vata’, (love me anyway?). It is an example though of one of the challenges of finding your ‘core’, and that’s staying in it.
I love my practice of yoga and what it brings to my daily life, but the real practice is staying in it longer than just being on the mat. We all struggle with this. Paul, my meditation teacher, always describes meditation in this way: It’s not just about the quality of the meditation itself, but the quality of your awareness after and between meditations. Can you hold the awareness of the nectar you find in meditation, rest in it, and let it flavor your daily life ‘off the mat’ ? That’s the real yoga.
I think that’s the biggest difference between the living Masters and us. What they have is the ability to hold center all the time. Not even just most of the time, but somewhere between most and all. That’s a lot of the time. They’re human we know, and experience all the emotions any human could, but the difference is whether or not they are soft like ghee and let it pass through, or strong like a diamond when needed and press it away. And even then, the teachings they offer, no matter what tradition, kinda say the same thing. The center, or core, is a place of paradoxical absorption that is transparent and fluid, yet reliably solid as a diamond.
In Anusara® yoga, one of the ways we teach students to find this part of their core is by hugging the midline. Muscular energy to the midline is the principle action we teach, and John Friend (the founder of Anusara) describes it as where you find “Diamond core strength”. The shushumna nadi is the central channel of the 72,000 energetic and vibrational lines of energy that run through the entire body, and this central channel is said to hold the strongest vibrational charge of who you are. It’s both solid and reliable, the center that never wavers; yet smooth, you can see through it, allows clarity of vision and fluid thought. I find it, all the time! Then loose it, all the time. Ah, back to the cushion, back to the mat.
Inversion timings are how I help build physical consistency to the core. I’ll time 1 minute each of handstand and pincha (forearm stand) against the wall, and 5 minute headstand in the middle of the room. I aspire to 3 minutes each of hand and forearm stand, and 10 minutes of headstand (I’ve done 7). Regardless of how I do each time I practice, I manage to connect to that reliable center while being soft at the same time. Challenging to hold, but when I do, I feel that same sense of calm confidence post meditation.
The on going practice of meditation, twice daily, creates a consistency of my awareness that I never had before. It’s been quite amazing to palpably feel a sense of calm and quiet throughout the day when I’ve done my meditation. It’s like everything looks different, my senses take the world with a softness. Truth be told, the subways are also more annoying and feel extra loud since my senses are so attuned, but hey, I plug my ears and deal.
Truth also be told that I’m not trying to be like one of the living Masters. I don’t have to be in my center all of the time. I think the quality of my life’s experiences, both what comes in, how I deal, and what I contribute to life may improve though if I stay in center more of the time than I do, which is what inspired me to find a meditation teacher. It’s working, and I’m sticking with it. That’s me holding onto my core.