Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Eyes are the Windows to the Soul

The first time I took class in Kelowna, I had just returned from traveling through Europe. Although I did take class over there, I think all the wonderful food and wine I consumed didn’t help my practice. So there I was... full of toxins and out of shape, in a new studio with full dialogue classes.

By the time we got to Standing Bow I was doubled over, feeling nauseous and trying to catch my breath. It seemed to make me feel better but I noticed that every time I took a little break to clutch my stomach, it got harder and harder to talk myself into starting the posture again. My breaks became more frequent until we finally got to the floor and I could rest.
The next time I took class the teacher rather pointedly enouraged me to keep going and stop looking at the floor. She had me all figured out and the second I dropped my eyes she called out,
“Why are you looking at the floor? There’s nothing to see there!”
You can read about how much I enjoyed that class here:(
However I did notice that for the first time in a long time I was able to complete every posture without taking a break and I even had more energy as the postures progressed. Could it really be that looking in the mirror made such a difference to my class? It took me back to another time when an inspirational teacher reminded me to look in the mirror as I was struggling...
In 2008 I went to Teacher Training in Acapulco. Mexico in the fall, in rainy season, was unbearably humid. The yoga room was filled with more than 400 yogis and in the first few classes I found myself kneeling on my mat, just trying to breathe. It felt like someone was stepping on my chest.
The turning point for me happened when Ulises from Mexico was teaching. He was encouraging us to just keep going no matter how hard it seemed. He told us to use our Jedi mind strength and always look at our eyes in the mirror. He said,
“When you look in your eyes you will see things are not as bad as you think, because you will never make a horrible face at yourself”.
Besides making me laugh, I found his advice very useful and started completing stronger, more focused classes.  Over the years I forgot all about the lesson he taught me but was reminded recently when I took that class in Kelowna and was forced to stop looking at the floor.
I was almost scared to look in the mirror in case I looked exhausted. Yet when I raised my gaze to my eyes I experienced  shock, awe and inspiration. Instead of seeing a pathetic looking creature begging for a stop to this torture I saw strength, determination and passion radiating from my gaze.
Throughout the rest of the class I used the mirror as a way to directly tap into my inner strength. It was like sticking my finger into a socket, the energy inside me was crackling through the mirror and invigorating my postures. Now I noticed that when I let my eyes drop down to the floor, even for a couple of seconds, my energy went down as well. I would quickly look back into my eyes and before I knew it, I had completed a strong standing series.
I said a silent little thank you to the teacher for reminding me of this valuable lesson and promised myself I would not forget it again.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity.
We are pain and what cures pain both.
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.
I want to hold you close like a lute so we can cry out with loving.
You would rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am your mirror, and here are the stones.
- Rumi

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