Monday, January 13, 2014

The "Wow, train!" factor

I spend most of my time with the 3 little people the Universe entrusted into my care, and when I allow myself to be totally engrossed in their world I experience adbhuta, which is the Sanskrit word for wonder, curiosity, mystery.  Everything is fresh and new and exciting. 

Over the holidays I took them to the holiday train show at the NY Botanic Gardens and my 16-month old son Rakhi stood by the railing screaming “Wow, train!” like a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert each time the train emerged from the tunnel to chug past us.  He didn’t just do it the first time it happened – he did it every time for the better part of an hour. (See video clip above!) Most of us as adults have lost this quality of infinite fascination.  We become mired down in the day to day and life can become tedious and bland. 

Imagine that you could bring that level of awe and excitement to your life – how much more fun and exciting and rich life would be!  I like to run early in the morning just as the sun is coming up.  On clear days, at the moment the sun breaks over the horizon, without fail, I have a “Wow, train!” moment – I am filled with awe and wonder at the miracle of the sunrise each day.  Holy cow, the Earth spun around it got dark and it got light and isn’t that amazing!  I always stop (or at least slow down :-) and let myself be filled with the sunlight and my gratitude at being alive and awake to the beauty of our world.  I find that on the days that I get to start my day this way, I am opened up and throughout the rest of the day I am can see the beauty and wonder that surrounds me so much more easily and readily.  I often snap a sunrise photo like the one below and I keep a collection to help remind me on days when I'm not feeling as awake and aware.

A sunrise run
The human body itself is a miracle of adbhuta (thanks to Danny Arguetty for this list):
·      The left lung is smaller than the right to make room for the heart
·      Every person has a different tongue print
·      Bones are 4 times stronger than concrete
·      The liver performs more than 500 different functions
·      On an average day, we engage more than 26,000 cycles of breath
·      The heart pumps 4,000 gallons of blood daily
We are living a wondrous phenomenon simply by being alive!  Our yoga practice just helps us notice it and engage with our own personal miracle in a meaningful way.
When we open ourselves to being awestruck by the natural world, including our bodies, we experience the inherent shree (life-enhancing qualities of the universe) that permeates all of creation, including ourselves.  When you can bring a child-like sense of wonder to everything you do, it is easy to see the miraculous in the mundane and life goes from black and white to Technicolor.

Rachel Carson wrote “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

Practicing adbhuta requires a slowing down.  Anyone who has ever taken a walk with a 2 year old knows that it might take an hour to walk the length of your backyard.  But what a rich hour it is!  Bring the “Wow, train!” factor to your life this week. Become fascinated with every small part of your being and your world.  See with a child’s eyes, rediscovering awe, wonder, fascination and excitement for yourself and your world.  If you need a small child to help you, feel free to drop by my house anytime.  Or else try these practices to get you started. 

Off the mat:

Start to notice “coincidences” occurring – a friend calling on the phone just as you were thinking about them, walking into a yoga class where the teacher seems to have been inside your brain and hand picked the theme of the class from what she found there, craving a certain meal and then going to a restaurant and learning it is on their specials menu that evening.  When we choose to tune into adbhuta these occurrences happen more frequently – we open ourselves up to them and invite them into our consciousness.
Go out into nature – study snowflakes, ice crystals, the bark of a tree, a pattern of stars in the sky.  Eat a salad and close your eyes so you can really taste the essence of each and every vegetable you put into your mouth. Let yourself be filled with wonder at the miracles that surround us all the time.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe advises “A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

On the mat:

Open To Grace:
Marvel at the intricacies of your body.
Let yourself be in awe of the miracle that is your human form.
Let yourself be awed by the intricacies if your body as it moves.

Muscular Energy:
Feel the (approximately) 650 muscles in your body hug the 206 bones.
Engage your muscles and engage with awe and astonishment.

Side Body Long:
Expand your sense of wonder.
As you make space in your torso by lengthening the sides of your waist, make space in your life for the miraculous.
Lengthen the muscles between each rib making room for breath and mystery.

Head of the Arm Bones Back:
Plug the head of the arms bones back to plug yourself into the splendor of the Universe.
As the head of the arm bones move back and the chest opens, open to the astonishing gifts nature surrounds us with.

Organic Energy:
Expand your fascination, radiating it out all the way to unknown galaxies.