Monday, December 01, 2014

Sitting Comfortably

We encourage children to spend time outside and play. Schools build in physical activity and there is usually some team sport involved. This isn't just for the sake of fun. We know that kids think better and learn better when they are eating well, sleeping well and getting exercise. At some point we put aside childish ways to focus on work. The description 'Work-Life balance' is often used, but I don't think that is the point. It isn't about producing less in order to simply enjoy life more. We seem to get that when we are thinking of raising children but forget it when we are thinking of raising ourselves.

Yogis like Vishnudevananda spent years focussing on physical exercise for the purpose of being able to sit comfortably. While the Scorpion pose may look more impressive, it is the ability to sit still with no pain that is the goal. This is when you are able to concentrate for longer periods of time. There are lots of jokes that go around about the Corpse Pose (Savasana) where you are lying down. The irony is that this is one of the most difficult poses for many to hold and maintain concentration. We aren't good at consciously relaxing. We tend to fall asleep rather than be able to focus on our breathing.

Images of Swami Vishnudevenanda

Ken Robinson says some of us tend to treat our bodies as transportation for our heads. I think part of this is our belief in the importance of work and our ability to prioritise. This seems like a virtue, but is in fact very similar to the difficulty we have walking past the doughnut shop. The doughnut seems like a good idea in the short term. So does skipping an exercise session because work takes priority. So does working long hours at a desk. If the true goal is clear, creative insight then working harder while sacrificing our bodies is actually counterproductive. Having an out of body experience may simply mean not being so aware of that ache in your shoulder and lower back. If you don't give it some focus it may insist on more than its fair share.
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