I’ve been thinking a lot about surfing this week. Not because I surf. I can assure you that I suck at surfing. But summer is here, and changes are afoot (the Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning classes are moving to a new home). Surfing the waves of change is one of the yoga and meditation clichés that go back for millennia. The avatar of compassion (and listening), Kuan Yin, is sometimes depicted balancing on a lotus, surfing on the ocean.
Everything is changing all the time, but I tend to think about two kinds of change: the kind I initiate, and the kind I have no control over. I enjoy the first kind; the second kind is harder to negotiate.
In his song, Changes, David Bowie wrote:
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
….time can change me, but I can’t trace time.
The crux of the matter is that we have this feeling that there’s a “me” who’s in the driver’s seat, and to a certain extent that’s true, but the “me” is changing constantly, and there’s no road. We make choices, we act, or refuse to act, and then we try to create a meaningful story out of what takes place. We spend time rationalizing, analyzing, comparing, wishing, and critiquing our choices, and in the mean time we get older and older.
Our practice in yoga is to stop doing so much thinking and planning, and instead we just focus on right now. We use the body to tether us to the moment, and we use the breath to anchor our attention. We’re not solving anything, because there’s really nothing to solve. We’re just experiencing sensation, movement, and watching the wheels of the mind turn, without getting tangled up in the spokes.
When changes happen we figure out how to respond and whether or not to go with the flow. For me that means letting go of the story-telling and the analyzing, and just focusing on what’s happening now. In the end, it’s all good, and we can be grateful that we get to continue making choices and responding as long as our hearts and minds hold up. The only time we can trace is the time being, and we can make the most of that,