Friday, January 30, 2009

a newly minted dharma bum

Dharma Mittra is a magical little man. My current proximity to Manhattan meant that I got to spend Wednesday evening in Dharma's classes - a Sadhana practice followed by a course in "psychic development." I felt very much like the cliche'd kid on Christmas morning, racing up the metal steps to his studio with my heart pounding hard. Over the past two years of my practice, Dharma-inspired crescent moons and lizard pose in Graglia's intense yoga classes in DC took me infinitely deeper into asana. After my best friend dove head first into yoga this past year and emerged from Dharma's teacher training all tatted up with rainbow-Sanskrit forearms, I knew I had to go and see what type of teaching bred such intensity.

And it was clear. Dharma exudes such a calm, quiet sense of something. I immediately wanted to emulate it, channel it, whatever. 10 days of that and I would tat myself up as well.

I have a hell of a time meditating. I close my eyes and my mind races out of control. I usually need an intensely physical practice to get my mind to a quiet place. I feel at peace after svasana, but then the racing picks back up. It's in the post-svasana moments that I usually get a rush of creativity, often so much so that I have a hard time balancing the thoughts and the joy. In DC I would go straight from Flow into Whole Foods and somehow looking at the shiny produce would calm me down.

After Dharma's asana practice, he led a "psychic development" component - a combination of pranayama, chanting and some practical advice on life (if you want a bicycle, think of one and it will come!). I've always focused on intensifying my physical practice (6 hours straight of yoga, anyone?), but this was different. I sat up post-svasana and started chanting mantras with Dharma, plugging my ears, closing my eyes and humming like an angry female bee - bzzzzZZZZZ! I shut off my senses - plugging my ears, pressing my fingers into my eyes, plugging my nose and shutting my mouth. The result:


Or maybe not, but it was still incredible. When he brought us around to extended alternate nostril breathing, I could feel the exhale rushing out of every pore - or wherever else I focused.

I understood the difference - that intensity and strength of visualization that, channeled correctly, can do incredible things. Dharma managed to sneak out during the kirtan, while I was all wrapped up in harmonium and Hare Krishna, so I gave a little wink of thanks to Ganesh on my way out.

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