Your favorite Confluence moment?

On Tuesday, Tim Miller shared his favorite moments from this year’s Confluence — plus his one disappointment.

Eventually (I’m a bit slow), that got me thinking about what was my favorite moment from this really remarkable gathering of not only the senior Western Ashtanga students, but of all the rest of us, too.

Was it my great backbend adjustment/assist during the Sunday Mysore? Was it that whole practice? (Surely not!)

It might even have been the music on Saturday night, which as Tim noted too few people enjoyed. Or the Ganesha puja.

Upon some reflection, and given “where my head’s at” following our trip to India, I’m going to go with any and all the times Eddie Stern talked about Vedic thinking and tradition. So much of it was great, but listening to him is what continues to reverberate.

Now, it’s your turn. But first, a quick comment: I’m like you. There are a bunch of websites I frequent where commenting is allowed and encouraged, but I never do. It’s comfortable, and safer, just “to lurk.”

Given that 50 or so people– maybe more — over the Confluence weekend said something to either Bobbie or me about the blog, we know you’re out there reading. So here’s a chance to finally post a comment.

What was your highlight from the Confluence? Was there a low moment, ala Tim’s? And does anyone want to start the drumbeat for the next one’s happening on the East Coast?

Posted by Steve

Are you free?

We’ve got plenty of notes, but not plenty of time.

We’re heading off to our final Mysore practice, we have to get packed up (and, we think, checked out mid-way through this final Confluence day) and so we are a bit rushed.

Thus, a quick highlight from the Saturday panel of the senior teachers on the eight limbs of yoga.

We’ll turn to Eddie Stern, who wound an intricate and web-like description of the principles that lie behind the yamas and niyamas. It was a fundamentally Vedic offering, moving from the atomic to the breadth of the cosmos. (It was, as I look back, one end of a continuum here at the Confluence; Naren’s wonderful kirtan last night was at the other.)

In the Vedic tradition (and with all these talks, I’m doing him about 1% of the justice he deserves), the closest word they have to what we translate as “spiritual” means “moving toward your inner being.” And one has to have a clear understanding of what and how you’re moving forward or toward that goal — thus we have our maps and systems (eight limbs of yoga, five breaths in a pose, etc.) — in order to start on the path. It isn’t willy-nilly. (That’s me, Eddie never put it that way.)

In the Vedic tradition, the nature of this inner being is freedom. It is pure consciousness, pure truth and pure bliss. (These align up to our physical body, energy/mental body and bliss body.)

Freedom is not how we see it in the West: As being able to do whatever you want, when you want. That sort of false freedom is bogged down in attraction and attachment. After all, when you are free to do whatever you want, what do you do?

You drink. You party. You neglect your duties. You keep living in the maya. (Eddie later talked through karma and kriya. We’ll get to that, I’m sure.)

But you aren’t free. You’re still caught up in all your stuff. You’re still trapped.

Posted by Steve

Mercury day poetry: The Selfish Giant (plus Eddie Stern and Mark Singleton)

Bobbie’s going to kick my asana, because today I’m stretching the definition of poetry a bit … too … far.

This is absolutely a short story. But it’s still got a poet’s touch, that poet (and playwright) being Oscar Wilde. The story is called, “The Selfish Giant.”

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant’s garden.

It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. ‘How happy we are here!’ they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.

‘What are you doing here?’ he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

‘My own garden is my own garden,’ said the Giant; ‘any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.’ So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.

You’ll have to follow this link to find out what happens.

There’s a reason I picked a Wilde story — it’s a nice tie-in to Eddie Stern’s last blog post, which is really his sister’s reflections on another Wilde piece. Take a look.

I have no good tie-in for this, but I also saw that Mark Singleton — whose kickstarter campaign we highlighted — is speaking later this month on Bowen Island, near Vancouver. The talk is titled, “Are Yoga Poses Ancient History?” A few things he says are worth passing on:

Asked what we can learn about yoga through a lecture, Singleton replied, “The question implies that we know what ‘it’ is. Yoga as it is popularly practiced has changed incredibly over the past 150 years. Often what we do in the name of yoga today bears little resemblance to more traditional practices. Historical study of the development of yoga, and its recent past, can tell us a lot about what it is that we practice. In turn, this can help show us other possibilities for practice. It seems to me that the “West” has received a very thin slice of the yoga pie.”

Sounds pretty close to his kickstarter-funded project. It’s OK with me if part of our backing goes to a cup of coffee while he’s there! And I like to think the yoga pie is coconut cream.

Finally, I should note that my headline is not meant to imply that Eddie or Mark are selfish giants!

Posted by Steve