Every life and every death begins the same way, with an exhale. We come into the world with a cry and go out with a sigh, each of these expressions floating on the out-breath.
Buddha’s disciple, Maudgalyayana, taught his own student an important lesson by showing him a huge pile of bones. When the student asked, “What is that?” Maudgalyayana replied, “These are all the bones from the bodies you had in previous lives.”
The bones are always the first to go; it is how the earth element in our body dissolves. Water goes next, followed by the element of fire. Then our wind blows out. After the air element leaves us, the only thing that is left is our consciousness and finally that exits the body, too.
Abiding is an in-between experience. Because of that, it gets less attention. It’s not a peak event such as arriving or departing or even an intentional action such as accumulating or releasing. Lacking an obvious drama to pull you in, it is easy to miss or ignore or avoid.
But if you do place your attention on the liminal, allowing yourself to feel the threshold-space of richness of neither here nor there, you discover that this is where the magic happens. It’s when things start to cook.
A good yoga brew is made of the universal elements of heat and exertion, breath, sweaty muscles, and strong bones. In life, these same ingredients show up as tears and love, anger and fear, hope and confusion, sometimes nausea, sometimes heartbreak, sometimes joy.
“You already have everything you need to be happy.”
Bingo! All of us experience moments of insight that pop up out of nowhere. Maybe it was a matter of time and practice…drip, drip, drip, the bucket fills. Or maybe something more ordinary like boredom or exhaustion or jet lag slows us down long enough to notice.
What I wanted had been there all along, but I was too busy creating my own dukha to notice it. I see that tendency in my students too. They might be sitting nicely in a pose but the space between their eyebrows has a deep crease that tells me they are in pain. When I ask them about it, it’s almost like I woke them up out of a nap. A typical reply might be, “Oh yeah, this position always kills me. It’s been like that for years. I just don’t have good shoulders.”
Toshi and i have been friends for 7 years now. we met in Voice & Speech class when i first started acting school at HB Studio and he just moved to the U.S. from Japan. we were friends at first sight even though we never officially hung out that much outside of class. but i believe that we shared a connection and mutual respect for each other’s talents and spirits, and despite wanting to work together, the chance never came up.
we kept in touch super loosely over the years. you know, via Facebook, or seeing each other at shows that we or our mutual friends were in. that was, until about a year and a half ago when he insisted that I audition for the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.