Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yoga Chronicles: Say What?

“Come to your senses.”

So said J., the yoga teacher, guiding her class into a brief meditation. What can you hear, touch, smell, taste? What can you see, even from behind closed eyelids?

I was flabbergasted. The meaning of J.'s inviting phrase, most of the time, is “to regain one's good judgment or realistic point of view; become reasonable.” That definition couldn’t have anything to do with noticing the truck noise seeping into a peaceful studio on Eighth Avenue—or could it?

That’s what I like about language as well as yoga—how subtle shifts in emphasis open up whole worlds of inquiry.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, by the way, the earliest recorded use of “come to one’s senses” was in 1637, when it meant “to recover from a swoon.”