Grasping Presence

One of the fears I had about becoming a yoga instructor is that it would ruin my practice. Turning something I love into work, and all that.

It’s true that it takes discipline to protect own my practice time, rather than using it solely for preparing sequences for teaching. Even when I go to other teachers’ classes, I listen with the ear of a teacher for their sequencing and nuances of instruction. Certainly I practice what I teach. And teaching is my practice.

But what’s interesting about this to me today, is how “doing mind” tries to co-opt even practices based in and dedicated to presence. Perhaps you’ve noticed this in your own, personal contemplation, meditation, yoga, or resting. That persistent feeling of trying or needing to “get somewhere,” an outcome or destination or social context. Productive meditation!

A student asked me in class today how many “levels of meditation” there are. I answered: One. Either you’re present or you’re not. (Then I realized he was asking about classification of mind states, or levels of concentration. Maybe it boils down to the same thing… I don’t know.) But I do know, embodied and in my own experience, the felt difference between controlling the breath… and that efforting may become so subtle, and even so there’s a way I’m still “trying” to make the inhale-exhale happen… and resting into the breath with awareness. As it comes and goes.

Our lives are the same way. Reaching ahead. Trying to get somewhere. Grasping for understanding. If we practice, and are fortunate, moments of grace and letting be.



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