On Yoga & Walking with Beauty

snow:walk in new englandOn Yoga & Walking with Beauty

It was one more of my winters of discontent, not quiet ever made glorious. It was one more of my visions that snaked around and quietly became a narrative of thoughts that were rendered in a loose organization of beliefs. Most of the beliefs have been pounded into place, nailed down—as if permanence was ever any part of the human condition.

Literature, Psychoanalysis, Art, Writing, Philosophy, they all came before Yoga arrived. By the time that I met up with Yoga, I had become afraid of it, like I had become afraid of my soul, my spirit and just as important; I had become afraid of my body. I ran from all sensations expecting that if I ran fast and far enough I would eventually run into the world of the not-me and there would be rescued from myself.

Crazy, yes, but all too normal for many of us who listen to irrational fear more readily than we listen to our bodies and our-selves—our multitude of selves that make up our authenticities.

I was a good runner. My mind ran fast and fierce and furious and even rage-fully. All the while my body sat idle content to be a directionless vessel, a directionless cradle that lulled me into regressive, negative unions with my frustration, my behemoth stress that would attack me with fear. My regressive attachments that pulled me, with all the weight of gravity, lower and lower until my mind fell to rest deep in the unconscious region of my existence.

It was a very lonely place before it became solitude. Some say that solitude is a cure for loneliness. It may be, because my many illusions and beliefs seem so unnecessary in my solitude. In my solitude, I learned that it was never meant to be permanent, that my rolling towards death was indeed the most natural element, the foundation of my evolution. And, if I am attempting to stop that process, I am sure to be less successful than the little Dutch Boy was at holding back the sea.

Nonetheless, not fighting my evolution is a different process than not fighting for my health. Despite a career in psychoanalysis, and despite my devotion to health, the most recent winter of my discontent drove home where I was missing the mark. I resisted the practice of the mind-body connection while throughly embracing the philosophy and the theories being spun for me by the mind—the allusive, non organic mind that exist between and among my tissues, sinews, and physically discernible organs.

Before the most recent winter had set in, there was a wonderfully nagging thought that I enjoyed having. It occurred to me, or appeared to me in the form of a sentence. “I have never been betrayed by Beauty.” Emerson jumped into the picture with the line, “Beauty is its own excuse for being.”

What felt interesting to me about these sentences was the immediacy of their truths. Having been myself forever a truth-seeker; my spirit, my encompassing, entire-self, with its connections to the earth and the atmosphere were satisfied. For some, maybe even for many, satisfaction is not a mental and emotional concern. Instead, many of us are intrigued by the delicious sensations of sweet revenge, or instant gratification.
Certainly that is one kind of satisfaction. Western Civilization, especially here in America,  moves us with a great deal of guidance from schools and corporate systems toward success. Success is the goal, and riding in on its coat tails, we envision that along with a plaque that reads, “SUCCESS” we will become happy. But ‘plaque’ along with its definition as an ornamental tablet of commemoration, is also a sticky deposit of waste that adheres to our teeth and the lining of our veins and arteries. A plaque, or plaque in general, is not a one-way street to satisfaction. As sweet as satisfaction is, it is not a guarantee for contentment, and certainly not a guarantee for good health.

Beauty, truth, kindness, vulnerability, psychoanalysis and yoga, compound-complex thoughts that grow entwined with each other in a kind of inter-disciplinary evolution, each creating a renewed sense of hope, a new version of, “In the beginning there was the word.”

 

In the Beginning

The beginning, though met with some fear, always provides for the possibility of the unimaginable, a quick vision of a distant evolution so far away from where we end that space and time combined do not yet reach.  The exact, extreme, extent of our personal human condition, beckons truth seekers.  Those of us riddled with a narcissism of hope are like Faust making his bargain with the devil, the voices that emerge the loudest, and the most seductive, are not of necessity a bargain at all.  What is it worth a man to have gained his mind, and in the process lost his body.

The word had always been a source of motivation.  But, what of the wordlessness that we hear screaming as pain from the body, can we pay attention and hear the call of the wild- primitive within?  Can we close our eyes and see the tissues and the bones and how they flex or not?  Can we really be flexible if all we are willing to flex is the wordy ego?

I have the answer that I need.  The body is as important as the soul. They are siblings, identical twins, separated only by their unique desires; each twin needing as much as the other.  Eventually they no longer dress alike, separated but still identical, the body needs the mind’s attention and the mind needs the body’s attention.  They have become strangers, they have moved away from each other and while still connected as identical they no longer know each other.  There is a silent yearning, a longing for a sense of wholeness.

Beauty and Truth are these kind of siblings.  We remain confident that beauty never betrays us, but we doubt the truth of their oneness.  We doubt the truth of our one-ness, and from this position of doubt, we adopt a perspective born out of fear of the unknown.  The mind becomes our world and the body is left untethered.  It is the body, not the soul that is in need of knowing god.  The soul already knows about the infinite connections between things.  The body needs a reminder and we do not get that reminder from a wordy ego, we get that reminder from hearing within as much as seeing within.

It is a new season now and the winter of my most recent discontent is passed.  I am bathing in the newness of spring for one more season.  My home is my sanctuary.  My body holds my consciousness in.  I am breathing with new air and fear recedes as courage increases in complete proportion to each other, giving a whole new meaning to “self-help”.

A.L. Dussault

Charlestown, Rhode Island

 

 

Home Sweet Home

I have done very little writing this summer.  I guess I am OK with that, but I do find myself searching for something and I think the search is for something as comforting as writing was earlier in the year.  It is so easy to blame summer.  There is sheer joy in just being in the world where the windows are open to a constant breeze and the birds sings and the water becomes holy and warm and healing.  I did spend a great deal of this summer healing and thinking about healing.

Before the summer ends I wanted to put some of these thoughts together in a cohesive essay because I think they might be helpful to other people who suffer from the chronic critical voice that lingers like a ticker-tape in the back of the mind, forever calling out some atrocity about to happen or warning us about some grievous fault that we have committed.

We have a mind that we can to some extent control.  That is the mind we think with.  “I think I want to go to the marketplace and purchase some vegetables for tonight’s dinner.”  That statement is a thought that will most likely propel me into an action at some point so that I am able to accomplish the object of my desire:  buy vegetables.  The sound from that voice in my head was as clear as if I had spoken it out-loud.

But, what about the voice that speaks in a dimmer tone, the one that says:  “you can’t do that, you are not smart enough, you have no culture and if you go out everyone you want to impress will know what a supreme jerk you are….”  That voice is also a communication from the mind but it seems to have a more autonomic sense about it.  It is not a thought that i decided that I wanted to have, rather it is a thought that stays suspended in a sub-conscious state and though we have no desire to listen to it, it may well propel us to action or passivity like the first example about the vegetables.

We are frequently guided by a force that seems to come from nowhere.  We put our heads on the pillow and instead of a list of gratitudes, what comes out is a list of outlandish criticisms that seek to prevent us from going after what we want.

This summer I wanted to stay home at the Lake.  The voice was very loud on many occasions telling me I was lazy, but I was able to overcome the voice by continuously reminding myself that following my desire is a more noble effort than sulking.  It occurred to me many time this summer that if I was going to have a pleasant, free and easy summer that I was going to have to invite in the peace that comes from deliberate intention.

It remains amazing to me that the negative thoughts springing from some repetition in the ego are so easy to access, while the peaceful, calm, deliberate serenity that I get from writing, or reading or a multitude of other activities that I enjoy; these must be invited in.  I like to use a “zen” like singing bowl, tap its side and listen to the vibrations that last into a long fading silence.  This reminds me that I need to listen deliberately and that I must be conscious about inviting in gratitude….

Summer was great!