There’s a wonderful exhibit called Yoga: The Art of Transformation at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. It’s rather mind blowing that this exhibit even exists – it’s a testament to the popularity of yoga in the East, and it honors yoga’s roots in a reverent and thoughtful way.
Our bodies can facilitate a wakeful mind by providing a real life present moment only respite. The body is always in the present, it doesn’t exist in the future or past – it is something that we can usually relate to, it isn’t esoteric but houses the subtle, it is seen but holds unseen material, it is matter in a form, it carries our consciousness. Mindfulness of the body is a way to loosen the grip of delusion, confusion and offers a way to see things as they are – simply, elegantly, and clearly as they arise.
The Buddha’s attendant and friend Ananda said that mindfulness of the body could truly be considered ones best friend. By knowing it, returning to it as a home and support for mindfulness and meditation, by listening deeply to it’s needs we can better nourish ourselves, create a calm place to reside within, and abide in abundant space by taking care of it.
In the Satipatthana Sutta the Buddha said, “In the agitated mind and body the breath is of the coarsest kind. In the unexcited body, fully subtle does it wind.” These subtle winds are what all yogis discover once the body and mind are quiet, and it’s the subtle body that holds the real pleasurable dimensions of a deep practice.