The medium of storytelling strikes awe into me. Stories communicate more deeply than exposition. We live our interior lives in story. I want to learn to write fiction.
But Story has drawbacks. We can believe it too well, failing to take it lightly, as a game our minds play. There’s a time to play mental games, and a time to let them go. To feel the underlying energy, without dressing it in ideas.
In Hatha Yoga class I learned to attend to the inside of my body as I held a position, sometimes relaxing into one for an extended time. To listen with an inner sense to all the gurgling and vibrating and pulsing and twingeing and rushes of sensation that went on. To feel my heartbeat, not only in my chest but in my ears and my teeth and my calves. To feel cool air whhishh into, fill up and expand all the passages and sacs of my lungs in my chest, belly, sides and back; to notice the sensation that followed the filling, as oxygen entered my blood and was carried everywhere. To experience the turning of my breathing to exhale, how it felt to release the warm, used air.
When a yoga posture challenged a muscle, I learned to feel the ache with caring, leaning into it gently to stretch out tightness, at the same time “breathing into it” to relax, relax. To feel when muscles wanted work.
When a pose required balance, I learned to feel the earth down under any floor, any building I was in, down through lines of energy like roots, connecting, anchoring, sustaining, communing.
The body has a myriad of sensations the mind has not named or understood, but they are all teachers more direct, carriers of information more immediate, essential and useful than are ideas. And the most precious of these is the simple sense of being that underlies all awareness, and needs no addition.
These days I use my yoga training when I can’t sleep. It’s so tempting to rehearse all the stories: my mind goes on and on with the words of this and that concern. And they keep me awake. But if I simply turn my attention to the energy in my body, the very energy accompanying that concern: the tightness in my chest, the fast-beating heart … and relax into it … I can fall asleep.
And when I’m in a lot of physical pain. It sounds contradictory, but if I stop listening to the story my mind wants to spin around the pain, and instead listen with my inner senses to the pain itself, just take in that energy … I feel like I go not only deeper than story, but deeper even than pain.