What you 'looking' for????????
What a powerful time it is this week. You only had to look at the sun yesterday to 'see' it in nature.The idea of power, who holds the power and how we use it, is something that has massively inspired, intrigued and has been an investigation of mine this last month. We all hold power, yet are you aware of what that power is and how we are using it, how we can contain it and especially in Yoga? Yoga being a method, that I know, has the ability to help us to understand our power and connect with it - BUT HOW?
I am inspired to think about how we can ensure that we don't overspill and actually learn to contain our power and hold it in a safe container within ourselves. This has crept in to some of the teachings, that I myself have been prevalent to recently and has crossed over in my research of how...
Yoga has this ability to help us hold and develop this self-empowerment.
If we consider that Yoga can be a method to aid us in our search for what's not lost, we could ask ourselves what are we 'looking' for and more importantly, how are we 'seeing'?... Those of us practicing Yoga may know already, that we hold all that we are looking for within. But the question is, how does Yoga have that ability to unite us with our self empowerment and let us 'see' this and then transform our power for good?
What are the tools that creates this method of finding the Self and maintaining that power... i'll tell ya.
One tool that we have in Yoga is Drishti. Eye Gaze.
I'd like to explore this with you this week. What is Drishti and why is it important and how does it compliment and affect our ability to see and empower us?
Last week, we explored Asana (the seat). Taking your seat on the earth and being offered a throne and once we sit, we begin to 'see' to look all around us. Drishti comes as a natural progression...
It is the technique of the eye gaze that we develop during practice. We all know that the eyes can move in many directions and in Yoga we may use the gaze in many ways including, up, down, side to side, tip of the nose, navel, third eye, toes, fingers and thumbs. (This is subject to the particular asana or pranayama we are doing at any particular time). Although using these points as a direction to aim the gaze, the eye focus itself however remains contained. It is not fixed, but softer and is simply aiding you to maintain your concentration and focus. Ultimately, this is you making union with the divine.
Our vision helps us to navigate, but it also hinders our perceptions and ability to stay connected to that which is real. So we use it consciously.
I love the way that this video by Forest Swords, removes vision to send out a message of 'panic'. The eyes are covered or not visible and this in itself translates a very powerful message, that we need the eyes and navigate through our reality using the sense of sight to make sense of the world. We use the eyes to seek, to find, to make us feel stable...
The video, which Matthew Barnes co-directed with Sam Wiehl, shows strange, unexplained close-ups on bodies frozen in abstract stillness. If we think back to last weeks blog regarding Asana not being restricted to one static unchanging form, we can maybe consider how by closing the eyes or not allowing ourselves to see, we relate this to becoming paralysed to our experience. It could tell us that we rely so heavily upon our vision to stay connected to what we think is real, what the eyes can see.
But what are we focusing on and do the eyes see everything that is real, are they effecting to see, to find???? If we then stay 'fixed' on what we see, what does this create in our direct experience of reality, of ourselves, to others? How about if we use the eyes, along with our movements, in a much more conscious way and begin to understand that how we use them can break this need to 'see' to believe and make connections and instead, learn to see differently, to 'gaze'.
What does it mean 'to gaze' and how do we stop 'looking' and start gazing?
The general consensus is that the gaze point is the one which most enhances the movement of the asana you are engaging in. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1) for example, uses the thumbnails as its gaze point because by ensuring you are able to gaze at the thumbnail, ensures that your arms when raised have not moved beyond your ears, that your chest is lifted and that your heart is open. Understanding and choosing a gaze point requires not efforting. It is using your connectivity to naturally move the gaze to where is obvious for the shape of the asana that you are creating.
We must consider that our vision is multidimensional.
I love the way that this Bjork video just seems to illustrate that idea and that term for me. The adjective of 'multidimensional' being 'of or evolving several dimensions'.
What is important to really embody, is the subtle difference between gazing and looking.
Looking is 'to glance or gaze in a manner specified' and gazing 'is a steady or intent look.'
If we think about this in a dimensional way, looking implies that the object of vision is in the same dimensional reality as the looker and the act itself is fixed in duality. Whereas gazing, looks beyond the mundane object. It is a metaphor for seeking to find the vision of the divine beyond the limits of the eyes.
I love the quote used by Ram Dass when he discusses finding our Guru: "Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." - Jesus.
Likewise, if we think of 'gazing in to each others eyes' it has a softness and we are making a connection. Where in contrast, if you 'look in to each others eyes' it is effort, it is controlled, it is forced and it feels often like it is harder then to connect on a deeper level.
Of course, the eyes project outward, yet to stay in this state of Yoga, we use the gaze and focus it inward. This contains the vision and keeps the united quality of your practice- the heart essence! This intensifies your concentration, in order to expand it beyond what the eye can see in all aspects of your practice. Just as Pranayama can do in the same way with the breath, by restricting it in order to expand it.
If you are becoming absent and gazing in to space during practice, focus the eyes and likewise if you are closing them and getting too internal, open the eyes and refocus and see what energy shifts for you to stay in a state of one-pointed concentration that keeps you connected to the unity of your practice. That allows you to see beyond what the eyes can see and unite with something beyond the dimensional reality.
I went to see the new Blade Runner film at the Watershed last week, and I have to admit that it wasn't quite my kind of film, it didnt captivate me... however, what I loved and have come to see the link with in regards to my thinking and practice of Yoga on and off the mat this week, was the concept of vision! It empowered in me to connect, in my Yoga practice, the potential of multidimensional qualities and to transcend my reality, away from simply 'seeing' life in one way but to be more open to many dimensions. This quote by Sharon Gannon demonstrates this...
"Space is curved, so if you had a telescope that was strong enough, you could gaze through it and see the back of your head in the lens. Indeed, if this telescope were also capable of special X-ray vision, you could see right through the back of your own head into vision itself."
So essentially, normal vision separates, as it is linear and objective, whereas gazing creates the sense of sameness and the inseparable and is open and united. This is Yoga. Oneness.
The eyes are our tools, to translate these qualities and aspects of practice, again and again, they play a part in our method of yoga. An essential part!
When you go about your day to day, when you make connections with people, places, and so on, witness your eye gaze, what is it doing? If you shift it from 'Looking' to 'Gazing', what happens? There is a time for looking, this time isn't during Yoga.
In yoga, when finding the ability to maintain the appropriate gaze points, united with a steady flow of breath, you can begin to feel how you can detach from any efforting and stay more focused in the mind and your body. That steady sthiram quality arises and you can maintain your dharana.
Just like magic, see this translate off the mat as you also develop the ability to detach from your anger, fear, and all emotional states that prevent you from your Sukham, softness, kindness.
On the mat this week, lets explore gazing, containing and manifesting the qualities of unity and kindness- lets learn to visualise our world in a multidimensional way.
Be here, now.
Tuesday PM 19:30-21:00 Matter Wholefoods, BS5
Wednesday AM 10:00-11:30 Yogasara, BS6