Will as a Puppy • 17 February 2008

Third series home practice. Funny joke. Yeah, me in the kitchen standing on one leg with the other behind my head. Don’t miss a beat as the fridge clicks on, the phone rings, and the neighbor harumphs out on the balcony to holler the squirrels in for breakfast.

My kitchen-floor practice is growing little by little (Shambhala Sun calls it kitchen sink enlightenment, the practice that is done without constant community and teachers, but I am talking about my literal kitchen floor). I usually begin with the first half of primary. The surrendering series of forward bends, the series I’ve done over a thousand times, to the point that it does me more than me it. It’s all easier after I let that old lover, the first series, draw me down. I finally let go of the little distractions, the hanging-out, the laziness and the doubt.

But third series is not about the practice doing me. It’s not something to which I surrender. It’s something I do.

I’ve been floating this idea that you don’t home-practice the third series. It’s too ridiculous a practice. Built for exhibitionism, for godsakes. Who am I kidding that I’ll muster that kind of power of my own day after day in the kitchen? (V. joked that I should finally get a puppy, to keep me honest.)

Tried out the theory on my teacher the other day. No dice. And no excuses.

Third series is the will. It develops the will.

What? Will is for two year olds, I thought. Will is my first complete sentence (hollering): “Do it self, Mommy!” Will is leaving Montana, leaving a religion, leaving rural culture and leaving the quasi-peasant class. It's achieving shit. It’s everything I’ve softened in my personality as intuition and feeling and what feels like a deeper nature have come in.  

I’m supposed to go back? I left something behind back there in my adolescence? Something I need?

Maybe. Certain things are a struggle now. Staying present for everything, not just the things I like. Finishing the goddam dissertation, which is enormous (and which I extend in order to stay in the place that I love and because the job market is shit). Practicing third series alone in my kitchen, for godsakes. If I was still a willful one, I could muscle this stuff.

But is there a kind of will that just squashes the distraction and the difficulty, a kind of will that is less effortful? Can you harness gravity somehow as this insane discipline teaches you (supposedly) to fly? Can you have a willfullness whose character feels less like Do it Self, Mommy and more like a good puppy (ok, maybe a bull terrier or something) watching the play of consciousness?

I have no idea. But it’s been said, and not by me, that the time on the plateau is over for now. That it is time for building. I just hope I can do what is given to me without getting tough again, without narrowing myself down, and with a sense of humor.