One day last year I realized I walked in an imbalanced way, my left leg dragging slightly causing an uneven swivel of my hips. When I started to put it together so tangibly I began walking intentionally balanced. It took time to break the habit, but much less time than it did to create it. With bringing my focused awareness to the way I walked I was able to much more quickly create a new way of walking than how long it took me to walk imbalanced in the first place. The unconscious emotional and mental baggage and memories take their silent toll on each cell of my body, re-enforcing when to tense certain muscles and when to relax. This is the inexplicable connection between the mind and the body. The way my cellular memory holds onto thoughts and memories that have long passed from my conscious thought. Uncovering this latent information, embedded into my being, is what Hidden Language Hatha Yoga is about for me.
Maybe after years more of practice all these thought-forms will be eked out and my Hatha practice will become deeper than rooting out the source of mental and emotional hindrances that currently inform my life. I certainly do see snippets of this possibility. Moments when the flow of my breath throughout my body seems to extend beyond each inhale and exhale. Moments where the decades of habitual responses to life are somehow peeled back and I’m experiencing each moment fresh and new. It’s the coming back from those moments that allows me to become aware of the slightly dragging left hip. When I can notice what I come back to, what habits I put back on like a coat as I slip, late for something or other, out the door, then I can decide if I actually want them. Do I want to wear that grungy jacket with holes in the elbows and sleeves too short? Do I want to favour one side of my body putting my entire skeletal system out of whack? I can notice these things, I then choose with awareness how it is I truly want to live my life.
In the meantime I take advantage of these moments of heightened awareness where I can see in what ways I habitually move my body and how this might be detrimental to me. I never cease to be amazed at the link between the mind and the body. One way I get clued in to the infinitesimal details of that link is in noticing how subtle shifts in my body affect my mind so greatly. The only trouble is that it’s not this linear and immediate process. Sometimes it takes me years to realize that a change in my body corresponded to a change in my mind. Eventually, after enough happenings of the sort – enough of realizing that it was when I noticed my jaw was continually held tight that I explored particular aspects of security issues for example – I begin to piece it together. I get a kind of adventurist-like attitude; just what mental or emotional aspect will I work on when I finally remember to release the tension in my right shoulder? This isn’t a day-long process. This is the life of someone interested in self-development for the long-term.
I’ve begun to shift the noticing of my body to the Divine Light Invocation. I certainly utilize this practice enough that it’s bound to tell me something about myself. It begins with my stance. The practice itself opens by setting a firm foundation. I elongate up through my spine, allowing space for the Light, and notice my body. Did I have to roll my shoulders back to open my chest to feel into that firm foundation? Or was my body already receptive and open, relaxed and comfortable? I inhale and lift up my arms, repeating the invocation:
I am created by Divine Light
I am sustained by Divine Light
I am protected by Divine Light
I am surrounded by Divine Light
I am ever growing into Divine Light
Just how am I lifting up my arms? Am I scrunching my shoulders up towards my ears or are my arms elongated and extended? Am I looking at this practice like a burden I carry on my back or an opportunity to make everything I do an offering? Basking in the Light I turn my palms in front of me. Recently I noticed that instead of keeping my body in a single plane, with my arms in-line with my body, they sometimes creep out in front of me as I open the doors of my spiritual heart center, allowing the excess Light to stream forth. Am I giving too much? When I notice this and pull back there is a distinct feeling of opening in my chest created. It’s as if by giving from a place of balanced centeredness I can give more freely. There is no overextending myself, there is only a giving that allows the Light to flow through me without taking anything out of me.
Can I look at all of my physical actions throughout the day symbolically? Yes, and that would surely tire me out. I can, however, take a more sustainable approach. I can practice Hatha and uncover glimpses of the concepts and thoughts that shape my physical mannerisms and habits. Threading these glimpses together I gather a wealth of knowledge about myself and how I interact and engage with the world. Then, looking at the tapestry these threads weave together, I can decide what in me I want to support, and what it is that I want to let go.