Day twenty: Veena

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Never left home, but always on the way; on the way, but nev­er at home.”

AMA Samy in Zen Heart, Zen Mind.

Woke up at 7:15 (yes I need my 7 hours of sleep) and caught the tail end of sat­sang. Yoga class was busi­ness as usu­al though I did final­ly man­age the bow and real­ized that the two bal­anc­ing pos­es that I’m hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty with will hap­pen soon — it’s just a mat­ter of find­ing my cen­ter of grav­i­ty, which keeps chang­ing because of all the weight I’m los­ing.

Yaheli’s name means aura.

This guy has braces. :-#

My mind is quite clear today. Thoughts, both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive, flow through it unin­ter­rupt­ed by judge­ment or analy­sis. No sign of Corinne this morn­ing. She shows up even­tu­al­ly.

I love AMA Samy’s descrip­tion of Zen in in the pref­ace of his book Zen Heart, Zen Mind. He writes:

It is con­crete, par­tic­u­lar and expe­ri­ence-ori­ent­ed, it is this-world­ly and cel­e­brates life and nature. It is ori­ent­ed to the beau­ti­ful and the sim­ple, it is cen­tered in the Now, is sen­si­tive and appre­cia­tive of the finite, the falling flower and the morn­ing dew. It loves para­dox and para­ble, is full of humor and laugh­ter; it is mys­ti­cal and com­pas­sion­ate.

AMA Samy.

Afternoon asana class brought with it sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments — I can now do the bow (some­what ungrace­ful­ly) and can hold each of the crow and half-head­stand for a few sec­onds.

THE 12 BASIC SIVANANDA YOGA ASANAS • Click on each image for a larg­er view.

Photos tak­en on my Nikon D700.

Today is the one-year anniver­sary of the Sivananda Center in Trivandrum. So we had sat­sang there, and it fea­tured a veena per­for­mance. I like the sound of the veena — less “nasal” than a sitar (which I also like) and the music sounds like Arabic mawwals. Very beau­ti­ful.  An Indian girl sit­ting next to me explained that each of the clas­si­cal instru­ments acti­vates one of the chakras of the body, with the veena acti­vat­ing the high­est one. That’s why it is said to be the instru­ment of the gods.

Line of the Day:

Corinne: What do you think of this name for a hos­tel in Lebanon? [She fills up with pride like a drum­roll.] “Beirutscapes.”

Nichole: … Or?

On the way to Trivandrum and back Nami (very very nice girl) sat next to me and gave my Japanese a good work­out. Unfortunately on the bus-ride back she real­ized that she had for­got­ten her beloved water bot­tle at the Center. It’s amaz­ing how lit­tle incon­ve­niences can throw us into a fren­zied state of inse­cu­ri­ty, and even despair — but with Nami it went away as abrupt­ly as it came.

Nami with a friend and her ill-fat­ed water bot­tle.

I shot Shiva as I zoomed in.

Nami final­ly got lit­tle Yaheli to perk up.

This is more about the kid and bald guy than the veena, but it’s the only decent shot I could man­age.

Indian girls’ hair is often intri­cate­ly embroi­dered.

A por­trait of Ganesha hangs at the Trivandrum Center.

Reading time. Then bed. Early moun­tain hike tomor­row. Om, out.

I am yet to meet a Zen prac­ti­tion­er who has not, at some point or the oth­er, strug­gled with pain in the legs dur­ing zazen [for­mal sit­ting med­i­ta­tion]. Don’t change your posi­tion as soon as you begin to feel uncom­fort­able. Don’t move even if the dis­com­fort wors­ens. My Zen Master, Yamada Ko-Un, used to say, “Pain in the legs is the taste of Zen.” Don’t fight the pain. Taste it. Don’t tell your­self “Oh, the damn pain is start­ing again now it is going to spoil my med­i­ta­tion.”

Rather, say to your­self “Aha there is that old sen­sa­tion. Let’s take a clos­er look.” Be the pain. Watch it, focus your atten­tion on it. You will notice that the pain nev­er seems to stay in one spot for very long. In fact, as soon as you turn your atten­tion to it, it moves away to anoth­er spot. Continue focus­ing your atten­tion on the pain and you will grad­u­al­ly find your­self less and less both­ered by it.

AMA Samy .

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