Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yoga full stops

Talking to a friend of mine in England, I was trying to explain to her what yoga is like for me, and I said it is like a full stop (period) in a sentence. And since both of us mark a lot of papers, that got us talking about having shorter sentences in life, as well as in prose. The first lesson of writing good prose is to have shorter sentences. It makes it easier to define a point. In life, it makes us more aware of the point too.  On reflection, this life of ours--a one way street that we write our legacy on--could do with more full stops.

The full stop is so important in languages that we see it everywhere. Only in Thai is there no symbol corresponding to the full stop, although a space is typically used to mark the end of a sentence. But even in Chinese and Japanese, a small circle is used as a full stop. While in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao the full stop is placed at center height instead of on the line. In Hindi, Sanskrit and some other Indian languages, a vertical line "।" is used to mark the end of a sentence. The full stop is important in order to convey meaning, to distinguish from one line of thinking from another. By this method, the previous sentence is used as a foundation for the next sentence. This building process allows for more complex thoughts to emerge in an incremental fashion. Building on from past foundation. Life similarly needs a method for being aware of the complexity without overloading our consciousness.

Full stops allows me to view events and to become conscious that they are past. Forgive/enshrine move on to the present. A sense of presence. Yoga, at its fundamental state, is a time where I just "am." I do not have to "be." Lives tend to become complex and convoluted. When there are multiple narratives and threads that resist being truncated, I have to consciously sever them. I have to be conscious that "Now I am."

Especially with children who  have a running thread of energy. With their constant narratives of their lives which I adopt as my own, it is difficult to sever these lines of consciousness. But it is necessary to reclaim your sanity, to reclaim a reference point. It is a welcome opportunity to close down a sentence in your life, and start a new one.  We cannot continue with the same sentence, with the same theme. We face a lot of complexity in our life and being able to put sections into the past is useful for our mental health. Like music, there needs to be a moment of respite. Otherwise the every spiraling crescendo will create an imbalance, a dissonance.

I will take time to gain that perspective. Whatever helps you delineate the past, providing a break--whether it is running, walking, painting, writing, whatever it is--be conscious of the process. For me, I plan on more full stops in my life.