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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Confronting the Boulder ~ Reflections of Sisyphus

Sisyphus was condemned to push a giant boulder up a mountain and once it rolled down, push it back up, for eternity. It took him a while, but he did have his hour of consciousness, that moment when the light bulb went off in his head. What he realized was that no matter how menial his daily task seemed, he had the ability to create meaning with each breath, step and push of the boulder. I too believe that life is not defined by any end result, but by intention, process and heart.

The first step toward meaningful moments is mindfulness. When Sisyphus was in his endless cycle of boulder pushing he was stuck in the habit of the act. His actions remained the same but awareness forced him to include intention and conscious living, transforming that habit into ritual.

I take a beginners Yoga class once a week. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been on the mat (and off & on), it just seems right to be there. It doesn’t have the flavor of the basic classes I took when I began my practice, likely because I am not the same. What our teacher brings to this class in the way of philosophy, movement & trust is far from elementary.

Basic poses take on a different meaning when broken down and intention is redirected. Not only is the class a beautiful expression of beginner’s mind, it challenges me to further bring meaning & mindfulness to my whole practice, including life off the mat.

On those nights, stepping purposefully into plank instead of jumping back shifts the experience and turns a habit into ritual.

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From the Filing Cabinet:  Periodically, I will be posting relics found in the filing cabinet I referenced in the post, Something Old, Something New 11/11/09.  This one seemed appropriate for this post.

Confronting the Boulder

Imagine. You’re moving through your life the only way you know how, when actions or circumstances cause a cosmic glitch. Something happens that is not in accord with the universal harmony of being. The source that allows the Universe its power intervenes with a decree of your eternal destiny. Your sentence is to push the weight of the world up the highest mountain, until immeasurable end of time. No take-out exotic foods; no human touch or sensuality; no warm baths with scented oils; no roller coasters or cotton candy; no literary challenge; no movie popcorn or glamorous celebrity fix; no dry red wine; no scent of cooking garlic; no losing your way home; no awkward kiss good-night; no smoke-filled billiard hall hinting of bourbon and adventure; no pain of loss or heartache; no diversion from the path. No will. No choice. No hope. No distractions. No future.

Imagine the ego-driven notion of the mortal dilemma which dictates that everything comes to an end, that time is fixed, and its end marks the eternal release. The end of a life that seemed to last forever. The finite resolution of a past and future. We are consciously absolved of all the consequences of our decisions. Throughout our lifetimes we may be gifted with the mechanism of amnesia, but the unlearned or ignored lessons of our previous selves remain as integrated (unconscious) memory. The thought of an endless existence is unfathomable.

Imagine your life as it is now, continuing without end, any true growth occurring greater within than without, marking time in a claustrophobic manner. The infinitesimally small notches on the wall, meant to mark an increase in growth, seem daily to fade into the epic shadows of time. A feeling of despair accompanies every moment. The physical, emotional and spiritual have been so woven into a single fabric, they no longer embody any unique structure of their own; they are one. The despair, thus, exists in every movement of the body--limbs, muscles, bone and even the flow of blood in the veins; it exists in the act of thinking or happening upon a notion. The menial shuffling of papers, waiting on tables, answering phones or hocking wares*, seem enviable positions. If only you didn’t have to push that heavy weight...again!

Imagine the daily push to the end of each day, hoping for any unexpected turn in the routine, before realizing that allowing the variables of each day, no matter how subtle, to breathe fresh air into the moments that follow, is to be alive.

*all are jobs I have held

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