Wednesday, February 10, 2010

seek passion

Ikebana at the North Carolina Arboretum

Passion makes the old medicine new:
Passion lops off the bough of weariness.
Passion is the elixir that renews:
how can there be weariness 
when passion is present?
Oh, don't sigh heavily from fatigue:
seek passion, seek passion, seek passion!

- Rumi

How do we seek passion in our lives?

I chose to post these ikebana pictures, because it so clearly illustrates the idea of putting passion into what you are doing versus just doing it.  Ikebana is not just a matter of shoving flowers into a vase. It's an art form that that requires one to be mindful, to be present. It requires both discipline and creative expression. It's an example that rules can coexist with passion. In many ways, it's how I would like to live my life. 

Ikebana at the North Carolina Arboretum

Do we go from day to day on auto-pilot? Or do we immerse ourselves fully in every moment?

I just had an interesting conversation with someone today who said that she likes feeling "jazzed-up" in her work. I like that.

I have to admit, there have been times when I practiced yoga on auto-pilot. You know how it goes: inhale, sweep arms up overhead, exhale and fold forward, inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale to step feet back in plank, inhale in plank, exhale to lower. Inhale to upward dog, exhale to downward dog. Neglect how you feel, forget to breathe deeply, obsess about the time. Yes, I've been there.

When you do something often enough there is a tendency to do it automatically. To take shortcuts. It happens in day to day routines, and it happens in my yoga practice too.

It takes some reminding to make myself more fully aware of what kind of practice I need on any given day.

I've learned that it's so important to check in with myself at the beginning of each yoga practice. To just sit and breathe, and be aware of any physical sensations and yes, even emotions, that need attention. Whatever we feel inside, is usually manifested outside - in how we breathe, how we tighten our shoulders, how we tighten our jaw and facial muscles.

I've learned that those 5-10 minutes --of just sitting and practicing pranayama (breath work)--tells me a lot. Sometimes it tells me I need a flowing vinyasa sequence; sometimes it tells me to slow down with a softer, slower yin practice. Sometimes it tells me to sit and breathe some more; and sometimes it tells me that I need a deep, delicious relaxation in savasana. That time of sitting and breathing also reminds me to enjoy whatever I decide to do. To put passion into it. Whether it's a breath that goes deep into your belly, a nice spine-lengthening downward dog or a rhythmic, flowing vinyasa. I've been in classes with instructors who tell you to close your eyes during a sun salutation. I think that helps me really feel the poses -- the movements, the transitions, and the pauses. It helps me put passion into it.

The same goes for whatever else we do in life... seek passion!

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