Saturday, May 23, 2009

Filing Cabinet: Iyengar: The Breath Is a Horse

“The breath must be enticed or cajoled, like catching a horse in a field, not by chasing after it, but by standing still with an apple in one’s hand."
—B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life, p. 12.

I’ve been puzzling over this quote all week, as if it were some kind of koan. I’ve never thought of my breath as a wild horse.

In meditation, I think of the breath as the thing I am supposed to turn my attention to rather than getting swept up in my thoughts.

I know the breath is essential, and perhaps it is the closest we get to the infinite, but maybe I think it is boring.

It seems much livelier in my head. Historically, the thoughts I've watched have shot around like bullets in a firefight. Now, as I sit more, they sometimes slow to an orderly march, like items on a news ticker.

When I finally move away from them, I imagine, the breath is just going to be there.

But it’s not? I’m supposed to be standing in the middle of a field, holding an apple? It’s actually skittish and willful? I have to woo it?

Somehow, this changes everything.

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