As I understand it, the word "Hatha" most commonly translates to "sun/moon", equals and opposites. My teacher also translates the word as "force" or "to strike;" to take us out of our comfort zone, to stretch and to grow. --- But for now, let's just say that Hatha means, "opposites," and Yoga means, "held together."
Tonight, I get ready to light out to France for a week... Away from my family, I am preparing to go on a different sort of adventure of heart and mind to my soul city, the formidable Paris. I hold the paradox of two phrases of equal weight in my little world.
L'habitude engendre l'ennui.
Enlightenment is a practice of cultivating boredom.
First, the French proverb:
L'habitude engendre l'ennuie.
-- The common English proverbial translation would be, "variety is the spice of life." But the direct translation from the French, is, "Habit makes for boredom." That's why traveling.
One of the great bittersweet blessings of being a mother of young boys is becoming accustomed to staying stapled to home, fully glued to whatever it is they wish to do, unable to finish a thought, text message, and email, phone call, or pretty much anything that I would want to do for myself. And so I strive to find the little beautiful things in the every day-- the strange moments where, for example, opening an umbrella becomes, for a moment, the Best Thing Ever, and then becomes an hour's worth of toddler breakdown when they realize they don't know how to walk through rooms with said object, and I regret showing them umbrellas at all. As Winnie the Pooh would say, tut-tut: it looks like rain. Mental and emotional thunderstorms ensue from all parties.
The second idea that keeps running through my mind comes from the fact that I'm realizing that I'm one of seemingly few yoga teachers these days who do not teach with music. I was teaching a class today to folks who are probably more used to flowing to great mixes. (Don't get me wrong, I like moving to music.) I got to wondering what it was like in those folks' heads, walking into my class, perhaps expecting that there would be music and finding none. I commented partway through the class, laughing as I said, "The owner of the studio (who was in class) and I joke a lot about how I don't use music in class. I come from what we might call the more "curmudgeonly old-school" yoga studies."
"So," I instructed, "watch what happens in your minds eye when you're met with quiet space. That's when things get interesting. That's when Yoga starts."
What I didn't say in class today was something that stayed on my lips the entire class: enlightenment practices look sometimes like what my sister's best friend, Heather Madden, who is a poet, would call "cultivating boredom."
Enlightenment looks a lot like cultivating boredom.
And so the wave between Quotidian and Exotique continues. I quietly hope that I am making the best choices for my family by stepping away for a personal breath, to live my dreams of travel, of art, of yoga, and of making the world a little bit smaller, by sharing great company in far-off places--- It's going to be epic, this trip. And it's going to be epic, to come home, and cultivate boredom. Everyday life is far from such a description, yet held in the paradox and the artistry of living every day as a parent. Watch what happens when you're met with loud space. That's when Yoga starts.