start with any kind of pause

Start with any kind of pause. To stop moving forward, to relax the clenched circle of possession that has hardened the edges of how you meet what is wanted. To feel needs hover like mist, and lift. The bones sink into the chair. Eyes relax back into the skull. Sounds become spatial again, and breath breathes you.

During any activity will do. Maybe it is easier when alone, in the midst of self-care. When the hand holding the washcloth feels it is washing itself. When the hands preparing food relax into the pleasure of hands being food. To fall asleep with one hand behind the head, and the other over the sternum. To melt your holding away, held by hands having no complex intention.

It’s easier when alone: this is what the ascetics discovered. Let the mirror neurons relax their engagement with the angst of others, and reflect the peace of things, of flesh. The peace of things reveals you as a piece of all things. This all happens before and beyond language. The sentence of the mind can suddenly need no completion.

Suddenly, thought does not need to carry out its sentence. The page of the world is sufficient.


  • Yoga Divina
    February 24, 2012
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    Excellent article. I have taken many Anusara training, workshops and love what has been offered.
    He lost me completely when I heard a couple ANusara inspired teachers say,”John says we dont moan on the exhale because it leaks prana/ shakti.. ”

    What ever. In My yumm yoga classes.. it’s all about the stretch n moan!

  • Thank you for this well-conceived and beautifully written piece. The college professor in me really loved every bit of it and I’ve got no problem being that guy, except in all the usual ways anyone knows comes with the profession and the role of educator. Your referencing Ayurvedic interpretations is particularly interesting since these are hardly grounded in more than recent interpretations of some very old ideas, but that too is not criticism either of their use or of your insights. I think I agree with nearly everything you say and I’m not concealing in the least anything I might I disagree with—rather, just to say this is a great piece of thinking and analysis.

    If we are to bring to any modern hatha yoga any sense of provenance, any connection to “ancient” teachings then we will need to evolve a deeper appreciation of the history of ideas, of culture, and of how people’s lives have been changed by these values and practices. Carlos Pomeda is just such an educator: a serious person with intellectual gifts (and a fine character as a friend of decades); his engagement in the serious study of language, religions, etc. brings something really valuable to any discussion of Indian spiritualities. He also is willing to speak about his own spirituality, his personal experiences and understandings and share those in an effort to have a worthwhile conversation. I mean too to say as much about myself, of course but deflect these comments because I’m not trying to defend or promote more here than as much honesty as I can offer.

    In this information revolution we have a chance for a sustained process of education and interaction that is just beginning. I am grateful for that opportunity and don’t mean to hide any bit of how financials are part of the story. In the university setting, like in others, I am compensated for work because, like most people, I have to work for a living. Unlike many I have the luxury to speak as well from the seat of a tenured professor, which means too that I am held to professional standards of competence and decorum that I mean always to respect. My public life, such as it is, outside academic world has its risks and its follies. So we take them if we want them. It would be easy for me to play in a much smaller sandbox of conversation. Folks with really interesting things to say, like the author here, like Carlos and others, I am grateful to receive. I came for the conversation with all of its implications and hazards. Nothing worth anything leaves out risks, all kinds from emotional to professional. I find this piece helpful, eye-opening, though I hardly consider myself blind but rather in need of more than one set of eyes to see more. Thanks for providing those eyes, and others too who participate in that process.

    • thanks so much for the kind words. i for one feel you’ve been laudably transparent pre- and post-crisis, and this models well for many. for me the issue is not money or public/academic tensions, it’s more about the rhythm of transmission and the transactional formats for learning that Indian spiritualities have inherited in their transnational march. as an outsider to your tradition, i see you standing on many thresholds: academic/devotional, bicameral/modern, Indo/Anglo — but perhaps more importantly you seem to stand on a pedagogical threshold that must reconcile the intimate nature of gurukula with the spectacle of public intellectual life. i’m sure you’d prefer us sitting around your kitchen table to us eavesdropping through youtube: i know we would. but here we are, technologized for alienation, hungry for contract, and eternally teased by the digital promise of closer fellowship. i think you’re in a tough spot in this intimate/public ping-pong game, and you’re acquitting yourself well. thanks for your work.

  • Matthew, you rock! This came in as a breath of fresh air. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this thoughtful and intelligent post. I’m not as smart as you are and couldn’t have articulated myself so elegantly but in my own clumsy ways I posted this to the Kula:

    To the Kula

    I realized this morning that I am, for the first time really, truly happy to be part of this community. Most of you don’t know me but I have been around since the beginning of Anusara. Before that, I was a part of Richard Freeman’s sangha in Boulder, and before that I was part of the Jivamukti family in New York, all through the late 80s and early 90s.
    I have been minding my own business in my local community in the Bay Area because of my deep distrust of large “instant communities” that are formed around some ideal, any ideal. I pretty much dislike anything “instant” especially community and coffee:) Must be the European in me – I was born in Switzerland.
    To me, real community is formed, like any lasting relationship, in the fire of difficulties. I feel like I’m finally seeing what we are made of and I’m loving it. I have been amazed and touched by unknown voices describing human dilemma and humbled, by their capacity to stand in paradox of feeling many different things without jumping to conclusions. I have loved to hear the fierce and passionate voices, standing up for injustice and dysfunction. I have loved to hear voices urging us to care for whatever life there is left. And I love and am proud of the Bay Area’s teachers, sweet, thoughtful and especially mature responses. To me, this community has, for the first time become trustworthy, because I finally know where you live.
    And lastly, I haven’t studied with Douglas much, as Jack Kornfield is my teacher, but I picked up one of my absolute favorite teachings from Douglas: Kali is like the great mother,(in Germany and Switzerland, you can find little shrines at the side of the road to the black Madonna – Kali) we can never fall past her. She is like the ultimate safety net and will catch us, no matter how deep we fall. Like a mother, who loves her children, whether they succeed or fail, whether they are worthy or not, Kali loves us, always.
    I actually mean it when I say: I love you guys – hang in there tough

    Matthew, I hope it’s okay that I posted your article in the various Anusara groups and on my fb page…..Thank you, thank you!

  • “I can’t wait to see what happens next for folks like her. They’ve seen the mold they were formed in shatter, and now they are free to sprout in any direction at all.”

    If only every Anusara teacher could step into your perspective. This is the blessing in disguise. There may be an undulation that affects yoga in ways we cannot predict, but to grow new leaves, some must fall.

  • Hi Matthew – love your piece – thank you for putting it together: this whole situation has been great in bringing up these issues: it’s a growing up process. x

  • Thank you, Matthew. This is a wild, multi-dimensional perspective that wises me up in so many ways. You give the keenest of integrating visions (as always) so that the wholeness you offer in closing is already rendered as far as words can stretch. And that’s quite far by the grace of your skillful craft. I am grateful that many are reading this and being inspired by the groundedness you set on us–the good weight of responsibility to foster relationships of harmony and integrity, as we continue to realize tending and uplifting such connections is the source of our Virtue’s vitality and the beauty that makes this a world.

  • Many excellent thoughts here, but I would like to take minor exception with your comment that “few philosophers and philosophies “deeply ground”. Philosophy is an excellent tool for critical thinking. Handled properly, it can ground us by helping us to examine our reasons for making certain decisions and taking particular actions. If we had more critical thinking all along the way during the JF scandal and the events that led to it, we might have been better equipped to avoid some of the damage and pain that has occurred. Perhaps a good amount of philosophical speculation can help us to set ourselves on a new grounding for future growth.

  • Familiar with Manly P. Hall philosopher who wrote many books but one in particular Twelve World Teachers–his philosophy NO great world teachers have followers, students yes, followers no.

    I’m no one special teaching yoga 23 years with 1500 hours in Anusara, not selected as either inspired or certified–a yogi on and off the mat inside out.

  • Matthew, Thank you for writing what I cannot articulate but can feel in my gut. Thank you for being the grounded person that you are and honestly sharing from your heart.

  • You are so articulate and comprehensive; this article is an asana for the mind. Thank you for the breadth of your considerations, and for the great dirty between the toes of your words.

    With heart,

  • I really enjoyed your writing. Truth with concepts is relevant to its owner. I hope you know that with your profound wisdom, to be is a feeling for us all. Together I hope we can acknowledge each others gifts and offerings in the special ways of individuality. I hope that with your unique wisdom you truly feels this in the base plate of your heart. I know my truth and have enjoyed hearing yours. Love is only true as life feels. Don’t ever intend to bring someone down to your level. Raising them up is best for the petals to see the light. That way we can watch the flowers of others bless fruit. I am glad you proved your point to all those you aim at.

  • Well said. JF does seem to have been living out of both a Messiah complex, and an Icarus complex. Especially the latter, as you note, given how much time literally and figuratively he spent ‘up in the air.’

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