1. Our pain and our problems. He said we seem to come to yoga with the mindset of “I have this problem or that problem. My knee hurts, my lower back.” etc. While in another context, we do not dwell on those problems. Like if we are out with friends, we don’t dwell on the fact that the lower back hurts. I think his point was why do we bring the mindset of the body presenting us with problems to our yoga practice when it is not in the forefront in other contexts?
Now, if you happen to be around a bunch of yogis and yoginis they may well talk about this and that problem a lot. But I think he is right in a broader sense.
One aspect of this phenomenon that he returned to later was if we are in the problem fixated frame of mind, solutions don’t come to us. We don’t find the key when we are looking for it, but perhaps when we are looking for something else. We have to have a certain leisure or playfulness with our approach for solutions to come to us.
2. At the same time he said, playfulness doesn’t mean we are not serious about what we do. I was reminded about Plato’s intriguing claim that philosophy is “serious play.”
The mind at play has a receptivity and an openness that the mind at problem solving doesn’t have access to. However, the problem we are working on or the question we are driving at does seem to focus the play, so that answers come. If we didn’t have the problem experience, our minds at play wouldn’t have an outlet to return to with the answers that receptivity brings.
Like this Aristotle paper, I was having a bad day with it, a couple days ago but the next time I sat down, I saw a structure that I was missing in the part I was working on. But more importantly, I also realized that even though I really wanted to focus on practice, that’s only one wing… As I was reading Aristotle looking for practice and habituation stuff, I just kept on reading all these comments about pleasure and pain that I’d never paid all that much attention to. Then I realized detachment is there too and the paper really needs to be the power of practice and detachment not just the power of practice.