Five for the Archive, Part IV • 21 June 2007


5. The future. What are your practice goals for the future?

Of course I want the present conditions to last, but I know that someday relatively soon practice will be often alone. Maybe that will be two years from now, and maybe ten: at the moment there sits before me a hilarious range of possibilities for where I’ll spend the coming decade, and under what conditions.

Therefore: part of what I’m learning here is both to set and to richly fertilize a me-sized piece of ground that’s fruitful under whatever conditions blow in. Every day. There will be easy years again, and harder ones after that. What I’m asking of practice is that it carry me through whatever, because I know that if nothing else I’ll live more deeply and richly and honestly for that continuity.

So it’s all about cultivating the height of energy and the depth of focus that render practice powerful—the relaxed intensity and no-bullshit grace (moral grace, aesthetic grace, spiritual grace) that I’ve only seen a few in the over-50 generation pull off. And they pull it off consistently, not just on particular days—because the kind of strength I’m talking about is more in the synapses, and wherever, than in the muscle fibers.

So I’d like to keep practicing until the end of me, sensitive enough to adjust the knobs to make it sustainable on a daily basis. This is about supporting life that it should be more abundant, not about taking life to support practice.

Also: discover what I have to give to the larger project and to individuals’ practices (support, energy, whatever), and give it. Maybe do some research in the more scholarly sense on yoga as a system of science-morality-spirituality-art for our own time.

And probe the edges: today, that’s the primal fear that comes up in pranayama, the apparent practical obstacles to a deeper sitting practice. In asana, continue with the back-injury puzzle as it gradually works its way back to center. And if this makes any sense at all, I’d say in general I’m working from the ligaments. Mine don’t need to lengthen any more, and especially in the pelvic girdle/ hips and (when inverted) the shoulder girdle/ thorax, my aim is to render the ligaments stable for the sake of postural integrity and long-term strength. For me these days, this is where I’ll find balance and sustainability. These details, and the kinds of shapes I happen to be making with my body, will change every year, but I hope my inner life and relationships with the world will become more and more stable over time.