Surfacing

Here’s a digital image for you, one I’m calling, “Surfacing.” It’s not a very Christmas-like image…at first glance; however, there is “divine birth” dimension. Where? How? WTF?

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As a beginner in the practice of meditation, mindfulness, and yoga, I’ve discovered something about the content of my own attention and the breadth of its span. Most of what I pay attention to has nothing to do with the actual spatial and temporal dimensions of the situations that I inhabit; and my five senses usually just go along for the ride throughout the day. That’s another way of saying that I’m rarely “in the moment.” Most of the time my mind is automatically wandering and dragging around clusters of feelings that reside in my muscles’ memories. I’m basically flying around and around in a bird cage whose little door is wide open but somehow hidden from my view.

I ruminate, therefore I am; and my rumination is my ruination. All of that highly-evolved cognitive activity that we call thinking, so necessary for our survival as a species, keeps us alive and incarcerated by decommissioning our senses. If we can’t see the open door, we won’t fly away. We’re taught to fear freedom by our own trauma. The curriculum for this self destruction is saturated in our flesh and bones; at the collective level it’s encoded in our enculturation and socialization processes to keep the entire flock from flying away.

Sometimes when I’m on my cushion, my mat, or my iPad Pro, I lean into an arbitrary assignment automatically delivered to me by this mostly destructive curriculum. I do so because I’ve learned that avoiding or denying them nourishes them. I’ve learned that leaning in requires an effort, takes practice, and yields dividends. I wonder if it’s a sin to vacate the Present Moment?

“Surfacing” is the result of one of these leaning into’s. Yesterday I managed to notice the compulsive appearance of one of these arbitrary assignments as it surfaced. Rather than repressing it and the scary feelings accompanying it, I entertained it momentarily before it disappeared. It grabbed the tissues of the moment I inhabited and the body I inhabit. It seemed real. With its sharp claws it tugged at and stretched the membrane of the living moment encapsulating me…until…poof!

By the time I noticed exhaling, it was gone, Merry Christmas, and another assignment had arrived.

Ofie…and Yoga

Back in March of 2014 I illustroblogged about Ofelia or Ofie, click here for that; but, I thought I’d take another, rough stab at sketching her – from a grainy photo I snapped with my iPhone after practice one day – since she’s played such a pivotal role in my breathing, movement, and core in the last 3 1/2 years.

I’ve posted more than 30 digital drawings, paintings, and cartoons about being a beginner yogi, going back to the first months of portfoliolongo. If you’re so inclined, and willing to click on “older posts” several times at the bottom of the webpages, please click here to see all posts tagged “yoga.” Some are more serious than others, but I take my practice very seriously.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have something to say about yoga or anything related to breathing in the living moment.

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My name is _____________, and I’m an underbreather

I’ve been practicing yoga since 2011, and I realize – for me at least – it’s all in the nose. Whether at a studio under formal, individualized attention, a more loosely structured fitness center, or here at home, my nose muscles are finally toned enough that I can begin to learn from the story that my own breathing is telling me. And for that I need air – lots of it. I had been on various breathing diets, as it were, in conjunction with meditation, spirituality, and even organized monasticism, but for reasons that I promise to honor but not discuss, yoga has somehow empowered me to admit that I, indeed, want more, much more out of air, and that I need to associate myself with others who interact with it proactively and in front of whom I can honestly say, “I’m Paul, and I’m an underbreather.”

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Savasana

I go places during Savasana. Just today I took a spin around the block.

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I joke about yoga, but in the year and a half since I started practicing it, it has come to mean more to me than words can express. Learning how to listen to the stories that my own respiration is telling me is, I’m sorry, I can’t resist, breathtaking. There’s so much more to yoga that I don’t like talking about it at all.

When Ann turned me on to Fifty Three Paper, my first drawings were yoga related. Here are a couple of examples:

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I modified the following photo of one of my blocks and made a blank notecard of it. It was inspired by my first instructor, Paula at Shakti Yoga in Des Moines, where I’m a beginner-practitioner.  Namaste to my other instructors Marialyce and Joseph.

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