I woke up with fear.
Nameless ancient fear that could be about or from the divorce or dissertation or the new parenting or whatever, could be from another life or from another planet. Nothing causal was invited, no narrative.
All through getting change to launder my yoga gear and rug, all through getting ready to drive over, all through meditation, all through at least half of asana practice. That's a long time to be afraid. Over three hours of ambient fear.
Longer than Cameron's film of TITANIC.
Ambient nervous fear. Let that sink in a moment. Over three hours of that.
Who am I? What is this?
In meditation, which we started directly at 9, the assignment to concentrate on the upper lip, and the desperate desire to run to mooladhara chakra, right to it. Not just to the ground, to groundedness, but specifically to the spinning red glow of the moola. I couldn't do it, I could NOT hold my attention up on my face. I let it run to the moola and breathed and panicked about nothing I could identity, disembodied, sourceless panic, that would not be unfelt. No interview, no date, no source. Panic in the body, no beginning, no end.
I hate meditation for that; I hate it with commitment and intensity. But I do it anyway because I couldn't change my sex life or my service commitments or my past karma or my anything. What, am I going to bring my shit elsewhere and have it be different? I am not. So hating it means nothing; just another fact.
You hate this; nothing. You love that; nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
We come out of the meditation. 25 quick minutes. Still terrified. 9:30ish. I've been afraid since 6 am. I sit until I can feel my calf again, and do opening chant. I am terrified. I raise my hands up and inhale. Fear so bad tears almost come. I force hands to floor, which mercifully is physically easy.
I jump back to chaturanga and Matthew fixes it, just like he did four years ago. Concentrate on hips up, arms straight, which reduces strain on shoulders. That's precisely what he told me four years ago. There is no time.
I make it through Surya A without weeping and take a second one. Soon it is a fourth one. I take an extra breath in the Vira transitions in Surya B. Terror, everything is terror, like wanting to run from an awkward date or a dentist's appointment. No explanation comes. Abject, sourceless fear.
Keep practicing, keep breathing. I concentrate on every movement, and each one feels OK, sometimes feels good or familiar, but every single solitary change of bodily disposition comes with terror. Quality of posture is a sort of incoherent stream that is running somewhere; maybe a river I can hear but not see.
I laugh when I fall out of Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. Twice. It is crying but it looks like laughing and feels like it also. This is fine. Just as there is no source, there is no explanation. I have the expression, I am the expression. I do not fear the room's reaction, showing emotion in the room.
I am gasping in pain and release in the second side of Vira 1. I get it under control and do not surrender the pose. I do the fancy pickup exit from Vira 2.
Matthew says the vinyasa between Paschimottanasana and Purvottanasana is unnecessary; I skip it. The vinyasa after Purvo is hands to floor, head forward, hips come up 90 degrees from floor and float. Feet go back. Slow motion. Perhaps the toes touched through, I can't remember. All of the jumpbacks until closing series would be like that. Big, slow, static. Oddly physically easy, but done in terror, which brings presentness, insecurity, risk. Nothing is sure or guaranteed, and nothing that works can come with success or victory or pride. Jump back; OK; a fact.
Static, slow, concentration, jumping through. Inhale, come up in concentration, you did not die, exhale, fold. I am still. I have fear. 3. 4. 5.
Crying in Janu A. Both sides. Adjustment by assistant who later would worry she hurt me. "No, you release that stuff when you make that pose bigger," I say, hours later.
Terror at Marichyasana A, that pose that so, so often comes with intense emotional pain. It doesn't today, not either side. Face to kneecap. No longer the felt fear (I cannot think about that) but the expectation fear, a thinker's fear. There are different kinds. Remember that it wasn't true. Felt fear is true; expected fear is not.
Still wanting to plead for help, just for comfort, just for an end to this consciousness, this sensation, through Mari B and C. I bind both sides of Mari D. First time in so long that I can't remember how long.
Expected fear, again, at Navasana; will it be hard, too hard? It was too hard and I had to take extra breaths, but I was not afraid of that. Reality does not meet your expectations always. Even with fear. Even with negativity.
No crossing in Supta Kurmasana (which is standard) but no trouble at all in the entrance or exit from it or the arm balance. No trouble in Garbha Pindasana or Kukkutasana. No trouble in Baddha Konasana or Upavistha Konasana. In fact, no more trouble.
Just like yesterday: weird grace for the hardest part of practice.
Three pressup backbends and reclining, convulsive release, heaving breaths, Matthew says, "Let that move, up and down the spine." I do. I lie on the floor, still alive, and make myself reach up overhead and do again. He says, "OK?" I nod and press up and walk in three times. Light now, smooth now, I come down and kneel and set up to stand up. Less fear; a little now; did it vanish through seated?
Hangbacks are hard and not as deep as I want. Drop, arms bend, more ballistic than I want. I walk in, rock up, knees to floor, come up, do again. I stand on the second one, with a stagger. Matthew is taking me by the hip bones as I hang back for the third one. The left knee, hyperextended a bit by a bouldering fall, quivers as he makes the drop unballistic. It quivers again as we stand, hip flexors convulsing like eels having unpleasant experiences. We do one more, that hurts a bit in the low spine, left knee and hip flexors--not a physical pain but a resistance--and it's over.
Closing series is full in all respects; the room is hot, humid and crowded and physical limits are hard to come across. Rest is not restful; mind goes at a hundred miles an hour, processing.
I sit, processing, letting it settle in, and take a slow walk, like a drunk, like every motion is endorphin-producing, down to the Whole Foods. It takes a long time. By the time I am returning, I think that practice has been great.
In the meditation session in the afternoon, I can't concentrate for a damn. I sit and wait it out, feeling every possible kind of physical distraction. Asana took such concentration that I can't muster anything. I do the "body scan" and feel the front body colorful in primaries and blocks, like kindergarten. But shoulder blades and spine, down to the tailbone, is nothing but a pencil sketch on white pages. Even if I breathe to expand the ribs. Nothing. No sensation. Muscular expansion; no color.
More discussion about contact, contact styles. We are to start a conversation with a stranger about contact styles. I talk to Matthew's female accompaniment (part student, part more than that) and it's quite lovely. But later at the potluck at our hosts' house, it's nothing more than a workshop conversation; not even a formal hello. This, like everything else, is fine.
Matthew talks about our innate goodness and postures we love and hate, and I can't remember a lot more from today. Yes, bad workshop yogi, perhaps. That practice was intense and I still hate meditation, I hate it so, so so much, but I will do it again tomorrow to find out what else I can hate about it. These, after all, are all discoveries.