Sunday, September 14, 2008

Be a Mountain

I am exploring a common thread in all aspects of my life, and this aspect is being like a mountain.

Mind body exercises are great because every movement, every session can be a metaphor for your life.


Master Ali asks me if I have any questions about the form I am working on. I reply that the main thing is I know there are things about my forms in general that I am unaware need fixing...this is code for tell me the one thing I need to work on in my practice.

Master Ali said that my motions were too tight and small. Tukong is a mountain form of martial arts. This means that movements are like climbing a mountain. Your motions should be big and definitive. While we learn other ways, we tend to practice in a big, solid way.

In contrast, there are times when you move in "beach" style. In this way your movements are small, and very close in. Picture walking up a mountain versuswalking in a big mushy beach with shifting sand.

I discussed when beach style was good versus mountain style. Master Ali showed me a few examples of each, but emphasized that my practice was too close. In fact, I had heard that from several black belts.

My Tukong movements were too constricted, too small.

Professional Development
Flash back to a couple of months ago. I had merged my Zero Waste Network with the UT Arlington Division for Enterprise Development. Our director was at a conference and wanted me to promote the Center for Environmental Excellence. I asked her to give me the vision.

She looked at me for a moment, and then said "you need to articulate the vision". This led to a discussion that basiclyamounted to my movements being small. I was looking at my small business unit, she wanted me to be looking, and assuming leadership for, the entire environmental program.

It was time to think big.

Inner Body Bright
Anusara Yoga teachers frequently use the term "inner body bright". Inner body bright is very hard to explain, but easy to see, and with focus, easy to do.

Take a moment and stand with your arms at your side.

Now picture a giant power field eminating from your core, out through your limbs, into your head, glowing out around your body. If you watch, you will see that your body will seem to swell up from the inside. You wil look bigger.

So in Yoga the other day I set the intention of "being the mountain", which in my mind is pretty much "inner body bright". The teacher Sanieh, actually noticed that something was up, and made a point of letting me know.

Be a Mountain
Being a mountain gives you an enormous amount of personal power and influence. People take notice of you when you are in a room. Setting the intention of being the mountain immediately begins a change in:

  • your posture, which gets taller.

  • your breath, begins to expand becase your lungs have lots of room to take in air,

  • your eyes tend to sparkle a little, and you are looking around,and seeing a whole valley

  • you tend to move decisively

  • you speak with conviction,

But not all the time

So why aren't we always being a mountain? Well, as in Tukong and Yoga, the mountain is not alway the bset way to move. When the path is uncertain, or we need to let others stand tall it is good to use 'beach style".

In martial arts, you change your energy constantly to seek advantage. You may be able to tower like a giant even when your opponent is bigger than you. But if both of you are being a mountain, it may be good to turn into a tight little stream and cut them in half.

Note that in martial arts mountain style is used to control the space. So, if you want others to speak, act, or express themselves in any way,back your mountain down for a while.

In my personal life being a mountain can be inspirational, but in some situations it is intimidating. I noticed this first in a supermarket. People were saying "excuse me" and not walking past me even when there was a lot of physical space around me. I could be looking at something in an asle that could hold three of me. People would stop as though I were blocking the whole aisle.

The certainty of your speaking can mislead people, giving them the impression you know what you are talking about when you are guessing. A friend of mine got irritated in Korea because he thought I knew where I was. In my mind I was saying "I think it is over there". He heard "it IS over there".

If you have had a long and intensely high energy yoga practice. Make sure you take a moment to go inside. Bring your energy back into your core and let it cool. Ashtanga practice always ends with a series of tight postures. This prepares you for final relaxation, and lets you get the maximum health benefits.

Big and Small

Scholars of the ancient Chinese game of strategy, Wei Qi (Go), willl tell you that all strategy is about knowing when to make a big move and when to make a small move. If you never make a big move you will be "living small". You may survive, but youwill be unsatisfied. However, people who move big all the time will have massive losses.

When you are on uncertain ground, revert to beach style. For instance, in business make sure you understand a contract before you step out on the sand. Ask many questions, examine each step closely. Once you sign it, the ground is firm execute the strength of a mountain.