Slow Down, Walk Fast: The Road to Okay
In Buddhism there is a concept of the subtle body. It’s non dualistic, somewhere between the physical body and the spiritual body, or both at the same time. Perhaps it’s simply energy. I don’t really know. I do think we’ve all had glimpses of it, a stillness or calmness that you can’t quite name or quantify. A sense of basic “okayness” as Tsoknyi Rinpoche calls it.
A Nepalese Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Tsokyni Rinpoche remembers as a young child sitting on his grandfather’s lap while he meditated. His grandfather would be sitting,reciting a mantra or in silence with his eyes closed, and Rinpoche would sit his young self right down in his lap. “My back on his tummy” like a “live, warm, healthy chair”. He could come and go, and there was never a need for verbal communication. His grandfather didn’t ask him to stay, and he didn’t ask for permission. Their subtle bodies simply understood, deep listening without expectation or judgement, rooted in trust and unconditional compassion.
“Sweet story, but what does this have to do with my Pilates practice?!?”
Well, I’ll tell you. It has everything to do with your practice. When we move on our mats or equipment, and listen with compassion to what our body needs, we get closer to basic okayness, towards a clearer connection with our subtle body. The broken diet and exercise industries tell us we aren’t enough, they feed on our pain and suffering. We need to be thinner, buffer, have more hair, less hair, bigger butts, smaller bellies and on and on. If we feel bad about ourselves, if we focus on our discomfort, they guarantee themselves a forever lucrative industry. It is a system that strives to keep us restless, suffering and disconnected from our basic “okayness”.
The next time you ask your movement teacher what you are supposed to be feeling (something I hear a lot), pause and ask yourself what you ARE feeling? Without condition or judgement, can you accept where you are right now? Are you restless or relaxed? Rinpoche reinforces that relaxing (feeling grounded, having a regulated nervous system, chilling out, call it whatever you want) doesn’t necessarily mean slowing down. We can move vigorously and still feel relaxed.
Pain and discomfort are loudmouth attention hogs. I challenge us this week, in our movement practice, to look for those moments where we feel connected to our subtle body. When the volume of the restlessness is turned down. What movements take you there? What is your set up? Are you at home or in a studio? Alone or with others? When the loudmouths get louder, kindly turn them down. As Tsoknyi Rinpoche says it’s never too late to connect, 100,000 times, keep coming back “Slow down, walk fast”.
Below is a podcast from Sharon Salzberg’s Metta Hour with Tsoknyi Rinpoche. I only scratched the surface of goodness from this interview.
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