This is the excerpt I used in class tonight > From Helen Keller to a friend who asked her to write an open letter about what she "saw" when she went to the top of the then new Empire State Building in 1932:
"Frankly, I was so entranced "seeing" that I did not think about the sight. If there was a subconscious thought of it, it was in the nature of gratitude to God for having given the blind seeing minds. As I now recall the view I had from the Empire Tower, I am convinced that, until we have looked into darkness, we cannot know what a divine thing vision is.
Perhaps I beheld a brighter prospect than my companions with two good eyes. Anyway, a blind friend gave me the best description I had of the Empire Building until I saw it myself."
We've been taking the work we did this spring on our hamstrings and psoas and taking it into some pretty deep backbends. Definitely new territory for all, which means we get to view ourselves, each other, practice, pose, relationship to yoga on and off the mat, etc...from a new place. But to get to that place means we travel through unknown territory, oh yes...into the dark we go again. Even in the middle of summer. Which is something I love the most about the practice of yoga. You have to be clear about your vision, what you see yourself as being able to do and be open to what is possible. Be open to the possibility of attaining what isn't there yet, to what you can't see yet and feel your way through. This is where the skill becomes clear as the foundation.
I've been thinking a lot about this letter and description from Helen Keller (you can read the whole thing here, it's amazingly beautiful http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/03/empire-state-building.html) because so much of her life she was in the place we start our practice with. Close your eyes, stop talking and sit still. Find vision in your imagination. Granted we can still hear but there is so much to be learned from the work we do here in the dark and our ability to be humble enough to the possibilities that come with carrying that all the way through the practice. I love how quiet the practice can be but rambunctious at the same time. That is a very different way of seeing than looking from the view we are most used to. I imagine when most people take the elevator ride to the top of the Empire State Building it's comforting to look down at what you are so used to seeing from a different point of view. But what about all the rest? I Love the way she describes it
"I will concede that my guides saw a thousand things that escaped me from the top of the Empire Building, but I am not envious. For imagination creates distances and horizons that reach to the end of the world."
As far as this goes w asana ...my point is you have to work hard too. But the reward you get, the vision you get, the new perspective and grounding you get feeds your imagination like nothing else.
I closed w this quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known, defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen"
So, thanks to all who came to class tonight and worked so hard. And Phil, I swear we will do it again next week.