On The Edge
I must be mindful, stay calm, still, move my fingers across the keyboard as if they were floating through the air, as I write my On the Edge column this week. I must ensure too that my chakras – root, sacrum, solar plexus, throat, third eye and crown – remain centred, in preparation for my yoga class later this evening. This means I am not allowed think about the next paragraph or the one after that. Indeed, the conclusion of this column will remain a mystery until it unfolds itself miraculously while I slowly and serenely take deep breaths, expanding my diaphragm to the size of a hot air balloon. Inhale….. one, two three, four, five, six, seven. Exhale …. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight nine. Phew! (Gasp.)
Naturally, I am sitting ‘asana’, cross-legged on the floor, relaxing music wafting through the air, which is filled with the scent of sandalwood and lavender, choruses of birds twittering in the trees outside, a parallel universe to my quiet brain, suspended like a big lump of eel jelly in my skull. I am in the moment.
That doesn’t mean I’ll ever have the agility of Trudie Styler whose partner, Sting revealed, while drunk during an interview some years ago, that ashtanga yoga practice meant they had amazing tantric sex for hours and hours. For those of you who were not aware of this scintillating piece of information, it is worth noting that tantric sex is not just about amazing acrobatics in the bedroom it is essentially about intimacy with your partner.
As an apprentice yoga student, the word ‘intimacy’ really resonates. I don’t mean sexually here (The Mayo News hasn’t been purchased by Playboy) but rather having the time to hear the beat and rhythm of one’s own heart and pulse, the rises and riffs of our bodies as we hurtle headlong through the day.
In this big bad crazy world where we now have to go to detox sanctuaries to escape the multiple demands of our mobile phones, i-Pads, tablets and computers; where we we are so time-poor we often meet ourselves coming back; where we don’t know our head from our heels as we rush around like blue-arsed flies or headless chickens.
Stand and stare
LIKE when do we take time out just to breathe? When do we sit silently and do nothing? I think of the classic poem by WH Davies, entitled ‘Leisure’, of: “What is this life if, full of care,/ We have no time to stand and stare./ No time to stand beneath the boughs/ And stare as long as sheep or cows./ No time to see, when woods we pass,/ Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass./ No time to see, in broad daylight,/ Streams full of stars, like skies at night./ No time to turn at beauty’s glance,/ And watch her feet, how they can dance./ No time to wait till her mouth can/ Enrich that smile her eyes began. A poor life this if, full of care,/ We have no time to stand and stare.”
This poem may have been first published in 1911 but hasn’t it even more relevance in today’s frenetic world? Why have we so enslaved ourselves to the din of the digital world and all its trappings? Are we that afraid of the sound of silence?
The whole Mindfulness movement, popularised in the western world since the late 1970s, is essentially based on many aspects of the ancient meditative practices associated with Buddhism. As the power of the institutional church wanes people are increasingly turning to yogic-style practices in the search for metaphysical meaning and fulfilment.
Our everyday ethos is more about karma, that complex and enigmatic web of conditions that rule our world, rather than ‘an eye for an eye’, as espoused in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Ironically, we are also embracing the hills and the mountains as if we were running from a herd of giant mammoths. But that fanatical trend is for another day. I am way too Zen here now to be donning my runners and lycra and working up a sweat that would put crooner Christy Moore to shame.
On The Edge