If you read my posts on a regular basis you already know that I did a personal yoga challenge for the month of February. Also, that I do yoga, when not challenging myself to do it every single day, usually 4-5 times a week. In the various styles of yoga I have done, the very last pose of most classes, and the one pose that is considered the hardest, is called savasana. This is pronounced either sha-va-sa-na or sa-va-sa-na. It is a Sanskrit word that means corpse pose. It is called that because you are lying on your back, not moving. Personally, it is one of my favorites. The idea behind it is to do absolutely nothing, which means you quiet your body and your mind. The body, I really have no problem keeping still, at least not for the 5 or so minutes that usually constitute savasana; my mind, though I like to think it is quiet, the truth is, it probably isn’t. Actually, I know it isn’t.
In what I will call ‘normal’ yoga, that is, all the different types of yoga that I have done, except Bikram, when you are in savanna, your eyes are closed. And honestly, there are times when we are in, say, warrior two, and the instructor will encourage us to close our eyes, just to feel the pose. Most poses on the back can be done with the eyes either open or closed, which to me means to have my eyes shut, and I like it that way. Since most of the classes I do are outside, I wear sunglasses, whether it is sunny or overcast; but even with my eyes protected, I prefer them shut. Bikram, however, is a completely different story. When I was going to Bikram yoga, my teacher would say, ‘This is a 90 minute meditation with your eyes open the entire time.’ I will admit that the first week or so, I had a really hard time keeping them open. I got better as the month went on, but I still had to mentally and purposefully keep them open, especially when we are in the mini-savasanas between the poses on the floor that make up half of the class. To me, yoga is as much about feeling the postures and poses as the actual position of my body. And I feel things better with my eyes closed.
While my mind was supposed to be quiet, I was thinking about how keeping ones eyes open can be a metaphor for life. When we do not keep our eyes open we can miss what is right in front of us. Or conversely, we shut our eyes to what is right in front of us. We can choose to see or not see, and we can do that whether our eyes are open or shut. How can one possibly stop to smell the roses if those roses haven’t been seen first?
When I lived in Europe, I walked more than I took the bus or taxis. And when I walked, I frequently would look up, and I mean, way up, so that I could see the tops of the buildings, which were more often than not, even more beautiful than the view at street level. I would never have known this had I not looked up. At the same time, if you are always and only looking up, then it stands to reason you will miss whatever is on the ground in front of you. It is a balancing thing; you kind of have to do both. Of course, Mae West said that “too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” Personally, I do not think that you can ever see too much.
We’ve all had experiences where, even with our eyes open, we cannot remember how we got where we are, literally or figuratively. So, eyes opened or eyes shut, it is up to us to see, or not see, where we are, and maybe even more importantly, where we are headed. Still, if you aren’t aware of what’s truly going on around you and are walking with your ‘head in the clouds,’ you just might get hit by a bus. Awareness, then, seems to me to be the real key, whether your eyes are open or not.