What an interesting evening. I have been meaning to get to the downtown San Diego studio and take a class with Jim or Emma Kallett, who were my teachers when I was 18. I finally got there tonight! I was a little nervous going in--new studio, new practitioners, but I hung onto a line from a Bob Dylan song: "You can’t repeat the past? What do you mean, you can’t? Of course you can.”
Well, I'm not ready to say that Dylan's insights are ones you should hang your hat on all day, every day, but the class was great. I'm so glad I went. Jim remembered me and kindly talked to me a little bit, and Emma taught a wonderful class. She has this way of being very energetic and driven when we're in the postures, and then, when in savasana, her voice seems to come from deep within the speakers. You almost have to strain to hear her. It's like she's mirroring what happens in savasana--maximum exertion to maximum relaxation. No strain, no effort, just rest.
She also sprinkled her class with lots of insights about focus. "Always, throughout the day, we are distracted. We think about everything except the present," she said during standing series. "Yoga teaches you to be more in the moment, to concentrate, one thing."
There was something very fresh about hearing her emphasize the "concentrate, meditate" instruction. Don't we just need to hear it over and over? It reminds me of this really bitchin' LA Times article by David Ulin. It's so good that I've bookmarked it and visit it over and over. Ulin talks about how he struggles against losing his ability to read for long periods of time, and chalks it up to an "over-networked culture." I've memorized my favorite line from the piece: "Today, it seems it is not contemplation we seek but an odd sort of distraction masquerading as being in the know."
That's a pretty loaded sentence. We need to contemplate just to figure it out! OK, so, according to Ulin, we as a society tend not to hold up concentration, meditation as something to aspire to. We'd rather be up on what our friends are doing via Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc. It's like we want to be lightly connected, and in doing so, we avoid what's actually happening in the here and now. But hey, at least we know that Suzy had a burrito for breakfast!
I'm as guilty of this tendency as anyone. The internet alone keeps my mind hopping around like Bikram's monkey! And these phenomena--Facebook, Twitter, blogging, email, they're not bad. I love them, in fact. I love being connected to you yogis across the country. I draw inspiration and insight from your lovely posts. I also kinda like FB and Twitter and God knows my head would just explode without email. But sometimes (often? Always?)? Eeeeh, yeaaaah. I need a little more of that contemplation Emma was talking about.
I don't even need to mention that yoga can help get us there! Just getting ourselves into the room is probably more than we do all day.