In our ropes practice, we often hold postures for an extended amount of time. When confronted with this time, not only do we come face-to-face with our nervous system’s auto-sensed “fight-or-flight” mode, but we also are challenged with the mental capacities & uncomfortable resilience of silently sitting with our own thoughts. This is when any emotional disturbances that we may have otherwise been avoiding or distracting ourselves from begin to creep in.
We often avoid feeling our feelings, especially the ones that are uncomfortable or make us feel threatened. One option is to act out through another emotion, such as anger. Anger allows us to, if only for a short while, feel powerful as we push away the uncomfortable vulnerability of feeling our emotions. Though, in not actually addressing the cause of our anger, we are forced to continue our pattern of avoidance. In that continuation, we may even develop habits of projecting our feelings onto our loved ones to further distance ourselves from ownership of that emotion.
When we deny ourselves these emotions, we also deny ourselves the opportunity for growth, comfort, support, & compassion. Vulnerability is often misinterpreted as weakness. However, in being vulnerable with ourselves by allowing ourselves to feel all of our emotions, even the uncomfortable ones, we grant ourselves expanded freedom, no longer restricted by the bounds of our avoidances. In giving ourselves permission to be vulnerable, we become permeable & able to live & interact with ourselves & each other with an open heart that can freely give & receive love. We increase our capacity for intimacy & connection. In that connection, we are so much stronger than we would have ever been when isolated.
In order to address our emotions, we are asked to reflect on the perceived dualistic nature of our existence, body & soul, tangible & non-tangible, physical & spiritual. As we have seen, all of nature is comprised of the three gunas, raja, sattva, & tamas. These qualities intertwine in every single thing that we can perceive, including human consciousness itself. The value of self-expression is that we are each a completely unique expression of the three gunas & inherently with that, are intrinsically connected being that we are comprised of the same source energy.
Through our pranayama practice, we begin to reflect on that “oneness” & with that, develop a compassion for ourselves & each other. We begin to approach & understand the experience of existence as a never-ending spiral of change & mutation of collective influence, wisdom, & experience & overcome the ego-based restrictions & fears of isolation.
The challenge becomes to embrace the thoughts that rise in the silence & peacefully, rhythmically, release them. To gracefully embrace, forgive, & surrender whatever we have been unconsciously holding on to in our physical & emotional bodies. Through that process, we become lighter – energetically, mentally, & emotionally.
By holding postures for a longer time, we are able to really open the body at a much deeper level. On an anatomical level, by opening the body physically, we are able to let in fresh blood flow & oxygenate & hydrate those sometimes neglected tissues. On an emotional level, we cleanse the area by bringing new awareness & energy to it. We tune into our internal world, paying special attention & care to any areas that may be holding physical or emotional tension or trauma. We send the breath to those areas & thereby activate an intimate internal awareness. This is, in part, why the breath becomes of utmost importance during our practice.
Healing requires kindness, patience, honesty, & a surrendering of impurities & attachments. Through our practice, we learn that we have the capacity to change the energies inside of us, and by connection, the energies surrounding us.
My purpose as a human is unknown. Though, gifted with the breath of life, I hope to live my life to the absolute fullest – that is how I express gratitude for this breath. I’d love to say “I am breathing”. It may allow me a sense of control. And yet, if I reflect on that statement, I know it is not true. When I sleep, my breath does not stop. If I hold my breath, I may pass out, but then my breath will continue. My body is cycling the anatomical processes of the breath, but I am not sure who is actually breathing.
Though, it allows me to experience the erotic sensuality, vibrancy, love, & voluptuousness of being alive, so while I do not know the source of this energy, I am thankful for this gift. Erotic energy can be found everywhere & anywhere. When we step outside & feel the warmth of the sun on our skin, the smell of the ocean, the humid breeze on our skin. This is Eros energy. I show my gratitude through my awareness & embrace of the present moment.
Becoming truly present is a concept that alludes so many of us. But what does it mean to be truly present? In their book The Power of Divine Eros, Karen Johnson & A.H. Almaas summarize:
“Presence is our spiritual freedom liquefied, condensed. Presence is an actual sense of here-ness – beyond our emotions, beyond the mind, beyond our ideas. In presence, we can know ourselves in a way that is authentic, which means that we are knowing what is real in us. When we fill presence, we are experiencing our underlying reality. It feels more real than the physical, the emotional, or the mental realms of experience. And it can’t be defined is any of those terms. So when we feel the presence of love – the actual liquid sweetness & its melting nature, or its fullness & richness & softness – we begin to see that the ways we have known love have been limited.”
When we are aware of ourselves as a small piece of nature & consciousness with our own emotions, thoughts, experiences, & ideas, this is presence in the form of self-love. When we are as fortunate to find another with their own developed sense of presence, & an understanding of their nature with their own emotions, experiences, thoughts, experiences, & ideas, we are able to create an energizing relational field with intimate, intuitive awareness, discovery, & increased understanding of the energy from which we are both, & all, created.