Obviously, as the nature of this chapter is so personal, and simply put, one person’s story of her yogic path, I am not about to address it as I have the other chapters. There is no ‘agreement’ or ‘disagreement,’ no real comments possible, other than the following.
I had the pleasure and honor of finally meeting Jill (I had had some brief e-mail exchanges back when I lived in NY) during the first Spirit Rock Mindfulness Yoga Teacher Training, where she shared her story with the group. I was moved then, and I was moved once again while reading her story.
I think it should be manifestly clear from her story just how non-dual the body and mind are. My teacher, Samu Sunim, always spoke of mindbody (which more or less translates the Sanskrit term namarupa). Rupa is form, and in particular refers to the body, and nama, from which we get the word, “name,” refers to what in Buddhism would be called the other four aggregates (skandhas): feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness.
Even before I met Jill, we bonded over an e-mail exchange where she wrote me to offer her agreement and gratitude in response to a letter to the editor I had had published in Shambhala Sun. My letter spoke to the point that in the Buddha’s teaching of the First Foundation of Mindfulness, it is eminently clear that all activities of the body, from walking, bending, reaching, and twisting or turning to the side to defecating, urinating, eating and bathing can – and should become – expressions of practice. Jill says the same thing in the section entitled “Sitting Straight” when she writes: “…practicing a Yoga posture became just another shape in which to meditate.” My only comment would be to say, make that ‘hatha-yoga posture’ as Yoga itself is meditation – or perhaps more precisely, the meditative ‘stance’ or attitude of mind.
As she states in the section “Straight To The Heart,” with the awareness a master teacher such as Jill brings to her teaching, the postures of hatha-yoga can indeed become a “doorway into the mind,” and one that may often be more accessible to many folk who would find sitting meditation much too difficult to engage in. Mindfulness of the body “in the body” is the meditative approach to cultivating greater intimacy with the body – and seemingly paradoxical – just what allows one to come to the realization that body is not-Self! In order to touch the water of the ocean, one must penetrate the wave. The wave is the ocean; form is emptiness. Yet, we cannot touch the water without touching the wave; emptiness is form!