Moving From a Deep Place
January 29, 2021
Where do we move from? Where does the initiation to act (be it mundane or profound) come from, and what to do when there is no impulse? In dance one way to understand movement is to know where the impulse for the move comes from. The hip, the core, the toe, the heart, any part of the body can be an initiator. Sometimes there is full body movement without an initiator. But what about the movements of our life?
“…Perform Action for the purpose of Yajna (sacrifice), Arjuna, free from attachment” Bhagavad Gita 3:9. Sacrifice in this case refers back to ritual sacrifices made long ago, like pouring sacred butter into sacred fire. In a modern context it can be helpful to think of Yajna as offering. Why make each action an offering without attachment to the results and to whom?
In yoga anatomy the self is made of many ever deepening layers. The physical body and the senses, the mind, the intelligence sometimes thought of as the spirit, and more layers that aren’t mentioned here. One of the goals of yoga is to connect ones consciousness to the inmost Self. In yoga Nidra the practitioner gradually loses awareness of the physical body and the senses, the mind becomes quiet(er) and the person has a chance to experience what they are that is not those things. They immerse their consciousness in the deeper layers. When we make a strong connection to these deep places, it becomes easier to sense actions being initiated from there.
Making each action an offering begs us to move from this place. I get a felt sense of connection with something larger than my usual self identification. For me, it doesn’t even matter who the offering is made to, perhaps it’s not even made to anyone or anything specific, but is simply an offering. When focused intently on the offering I’m naturally not concerned with the results. This is an offering without attachment.
Attachments are not something to try to get rid of, in a decisive not-to-have-them, kind of way. Perhaps we can allow attachments to soften and loosen while focusing on our deep impulse and current action. The Koan “The Great Way is not Difficult if you don’t pick and choose” can be a great aid in this.
Operating in the world of this Koan has helped me to see when things are mind noise for example: second third and forth guessing, re-working past conversations, or imagining how to “get it right” when I meet that person again. Thinking about the Koan in day to day life untethers that kind of decision making from a deeper impulse or desire to act. This untethering is not about denying anything, including the mental experience. Rather, by working with the idea of not picking and choosing being easy, easiness and trust in life and my own impulses starts to emerge, and the more I live with that, the more the is-ness and presence of all things (even the immovables) rises forth. My life has a similar flavor when I’m making everything an offering without attachment. The mental noise dies down and I move through my day operating from a deep place.
The difference between the Gita work and the Koan work that I have perceived is the Koan work provides a comfort with the mental activities, a friendliness allowing it to be what it is. This may result in the quieting of the mind, or it may not. Whereas the Gita work has more of an emphasis on devotion and concentration, which feels like clarity.
But what do we do when there is no clear deeper impulse? Can we live in the not knowing? How do we wait kindly until our deeper impulse appears or doesn’t? I have been inspired by Tammy, the owner of Inner Space Yoga. She is a longtime Koan practitioner. She is at ease with the activities of her mind and a certain amount of unclarity in life and the business. I have watched her sit with a decision that is supposed to be made, with viewpoints and angles, pros and cons, coming from all sides, and she has the power to be with that without needing to “lock anything down”.
The obvious boon to this way of being is the persistence and tenacity it gives to the small business in the face of the pandemic, election and other forms of not knowing and unclarity. The more subtle boon is seen in the day to day decisions. To be able to wait in the chaos is in fact, a kind thing. We are less likely to hurt others when we are not hasty. Furthermore, waiting allows for a decision to emerge on its own, and that creates a comfort and trust in life.
The last several dances I’ve made I have said yes to whatever impulse arose. I didn’t judge it. I just made it (and told myself I could judge it later if I wanted). With making dances, sometimes ideas come from the mind or a place beyond the mind, sometimes they come from the toe. For me they are an offering to no one in particular without picking and choosing.