“Rest in natural great peace this exhausted mind
beaten helplessly by karma and neurotic thoughts
like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
in the infinite ocean of Samskara.”
I’ve heard this recording during savasana many times over my years at On the Mat, but today when Linda played it, I thought about the words in a broader context. We are all swimming in a sea of karma and neurotic thoughts, as Sogyal Rinpoche says so eloquently. Some days the thoughts, and thus the waves are truly relentless, and others they quiet into a sense of great peace in the infinite ocean of experience.
As I listened to the words today, aware of the people I’m going to meet on the other side of the world, I began to question how they experience the karma and neurotic thoughts. Do they move at the pace we do, or is life simpler and thus quieter? What does this mean for a young teenage girl who has been put in the monastery because her parents are too poor to feed her? Is this really true? Who are these girls?
These are the questions I ponder, as I listen to these words, rather than just resting in this great peace. Yoga is about being here, now, in our bodies, on our mats, yet too often these days I find myself jumping to the future. Why are teenage girls in the monastery? Do they want to follow Buddhism or is this a safe haven from some of the social and economic problems in Myanmar? How can I make yoga relevant to them? How are we going to teach nuns in their robes? What does rest in natural great peace mean for the women who find refuge in the nunnery, away from the labor and sex trafficking endemic in so many countries. And again, who are these girls?
And when I am in Burma, with these girls and women, I will have the answers in the present moment, the way I intend to live while I am away, yet I know I will have so many more. It will be that constant balance between being aware and drifting into the future, as well as the past, only to come back to my direct experience once again. This is one of many inspirations from Linda’s teaching. Over and over again she brings us back to direct experience of the body, of awareness, of sensation. What do we notice after a pose, especially when we’ve practiced a series on one side, before the other. What is the difference, if any, between the left and the right? And how do I relate that to the yoga practice of this trip? What is the difference between walking in Concord Center and the center of Yangon? What is the difference between being a girl in Concord and being a girl in Yangon? And again, back to the question: Who are these girls?