Sunday, March 10, 2013

Attending to Tortoise

“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land.” …The Song of Solomon

Tortoise has been calling to me. Looking from place to place, my eyes open wide, my ears inclined to hear. I watch and listen.  What is it tortoise is offering to me? Tortoise, a symbol of strength, longevity and endurance, a progenitor of life, a bringer of wisdom.

Tortoise saunters confident and capable. In no hurry, steadfast she travels carrying her home with her. She lives a simple life, she has all she needs.  Grazing on vegetation, she knows no lack. She digs down into mother earth and lays her eggs. New life emerges. Withdrawing into her shell, she finds protection and rest. 

Perhaps the time has come to follow in the footsteps of tortoise. Yoga tells us that tortoise pose is dedicated to the maintainer of the universe.  Who is this maintainer of our universe? None other than our true Self. The yogi attempts to withdraw his senses from other objects, as the tortoise withdraws his limbs from danger. Then the yogi will be on the path towards wisdom and know freedom.

So I begin to apply myself to the practice of tortoise pose. The physical benefits are many. The entire backside of the body stretches. The back will relax and the hamstrings will loosen with practice. Blood flow is stimulated all along the spine, nourishing this complex network of nerves. The pelvis and abdomen are squeezed improving the health of the internal organs.

This is an advanced posture (strength) and it will take years (longevity) for me to be limber enough(endurance) to get into the final pose. Yet I practice, balancing effort with ease (life). And here I remember there is no destination, it’s all about the journey. (wisdom)

Om shanti. 


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