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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Sep 5, 2010

Effortlessness and "Kicking Ass"

I am 3.5 weeks in to a 4 + week process of Panca Karma. Patricia Berger - Ayurvedic practitioner extraordinaire - has been my tour guide and practitioner on this great adventure which is a deep rejuvenation as well as a cleanse. I don't really even want to tell you about Patricia because it's kind of like telling people about a really great little restaurant and then everybody goes there and then you can't get in. So - never mind - Patricia is just so-so - no big deal.

Panca Karma has been a deep rejuvenation as well as a cleanse. This has not been a harsh process but rather a very nourishing one. I feel clearer - like several veils have lifted. This is a parallel to what I experience in regular meditation - and more strongly in meditation retreats - when there is a steady loosening and melting of that which is congealed, thickened, frozen, stagnant - whether it be physical, mental or emotional.

In the past I've been involved in - and counseled people through - many cleanses. They were generally on the rough side - and had a sort of "kick-ass" mentality. Also in the past - over the years of my meditation practice - I've been involved in meditation styles that had the flavor of "gut it out" and had their own sort of "kick-ass" mentality (in my experience of them).

I liked all that "kicking ass" and learned a lot from it. I think that it may have prepared me for subtler work - in meditation, asana and in my approach to the cleansing and rejuvenation of my body. Panca Karma has been, for me, a subtler, more refined and deeper experience of a "cleanse" than any I've experienced in the past. My meditation practice is, similarly, subtler, more refined and deeper than forms I've practiced in the past.

Recently a friend asked me if the meditation I practice is really an" effortless technique" (which is one of the ways it is described). I had to think about that. I was a little embarrassed to say that I practice something that is "effortless". Like - "What a sissy!" And "Who are you kidding!" But really, the "effort" side of the equation is softer and the ease side of the equation has expanded - so that now - rather than effortless, I'd have to say that the quality of ease has increased tremendously.

When this quality of ease first began to flow gradually into my practices, I mistrusted it. I had been so used to the "maximum effort" of the kick ass approach. I had used "maximum external sensation" as an indicator that I was working hard enough, deeply enough in my practices. I was suspicious that anything less "strong" was an open doorway to sloth, torpor, delusion and inertia.

Slowly I am trusting ease.

In my studies with Paul Muller Ortega, I've been fortunate to study the theory that illuminates the concept of ease – or effortlessness – as an approach to meditation practice. It's a bit much for a blog post - especially since I'm condensing it to nutshell size. But here's the teaching - constrained into a nutshell:

The Light of Consciousness causes itself to appear contracted. Reality "constrains itself into existence" as the Word is made flesh. If this sounds hopelessly esoteric, consider that everyday life teaches us about the Absolute. Think about the everyday life fact that a baby is "constrained into existence” during its passage through birth canal. This "constraining into existence" takes effort. It takes effort to constrain the vastness of pure potential into an atom - into the "atomic" or limited, contracted, transmigratory self (anu).
Each of us, at some moment, mysteriously, and sooner or later, is touched by grace and will begin the great path of return - of remembrance.

So - see - it's like this: If it takes effort to be constrained into existence - well then - it takes ease and a certain melting - to traverse the great path of return. Like that.

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