corpse pose

The deliberate practice of savasana/final resting pose/corpse pose… is a wildly unique way of finding freedom. Some yoga asana teachers scoff at the literal translation of the name of the pose. I say, call a spade a spade. If times haven’t caused you to reflect on the fleeting preciousness of your days/moments/breaths… um… love to you! What sphere are you from?

Heavy sedation causes our body’s muscle tone to go completely flaccid. Thus, the dry stiff inelastic seeming tissues/postures/movements/etc of those who are octogenarians, or there abouts, in persona if not physicality!, are due to one’s level of consciousness or state/level of awake-ness. Even stage 4 sleep doesn’t likely relieve one’s tone the way general anesthesia can. What a wonder! We can’t easily consciously undo our particular degree of stress built up inside. Yet, that tight shoulder is not stuck: the tissue would slacken under anesthesia. Freedom is in there, underneath our cloak of self-concepts!

Practicing this form of formless freedom sure seems worth the direct benefits to one’s body, as well as one’s mind!

Even by the time we emerge from the birth canal or cesarean passageway, we have gathered patterns of being and responding to stimuli. Yet, there is this natural tendency within, towards ease and freedom and delight – even along with the incredible inconceivable pain and suffering this world and we conjure together (thus the mad days we power through, the mad lives we power through, looking to some sense of completion in the eventide, or retirement years, missing the whole journey in the present from the get go!).

Most of us create/learn/habituate/condition patterns of attention and action that propel us in a sustained frenzy that some experience as divinely satisfying and even restful. Some of us, or course, experience all this as ironically stagnant and resist it. This touches on a prior post I wrote on repetitive movement as a form of paralysis – an Emile Conrad concept. We get so set in our sense of self and doing and being, that even the shape of our shoulder muscles hold us within ourselves. Our identity and the freedom to let go of that is rarely considered much less attempted. This is how you recognize a person’s cadence, or silhouette as they approach from far away, well before you can make out the details of their hair or skin color.

If you have ever been to a wake, you may also know the way a person becomes unrecognizable in their very face, only with the shift in the tone of the tissue in their face. We learn patterns of expression and use of our facial muscles too. This becomes us – according to those moments when a portrait just doesn’t quite capture the right muscular shape beneath the eyes or cheeks or chin – it’s that creepy freedom from our conditioned way of being… that just doesn’t look right.

I think this is what creeps some yoga teachers even from calling savasana what it is – a practice in being dead – gone – free from whoever/whatever you think yourself to be – to be limited by – to be tied to in this one life!

Aside from other ways of exploring serial suicide, as Kate Bornstein explores it, my daily practice of serial suicide in the form of savasana, or corpse pose, has become vital to finding freedom and allowing more of me to evolve, learn, grow into a much wider spectrum of being within this seeming limited human earthly dimension.

To unfurl my palms, feet, tongue, organs, limbs, exhales… to take on that pose of being completely anesthetized or dead, to directly experience the full cradling that the earth offers me… If I let go I will not roll across the floor in a number of odd bloody pieces. To practice this formless form of serial suicide is one of the most uplifting experiences I have ever known in my life.

There sure is a philosophical/theoretical/esoteric/spiritual dimension to practicing finding one’s original face. Yet, the physical concrete practice of losing my face is incredibly simple, refreshing, and liberating.

When you next look into someone’s eyes, look beneath the conditioned/reactive tissue expression, see the realm between their skin and their muscular tone. I don’t mean to imagine you are seeing an x-ray of their skull. I mean to practice seeing the essence of the person before you. Soften your gaze and your own physical/emotional/energetic tone and breath them in – receive.

Look in the mirror, and let go so that you can receive more of life’s gift to you in this one bizarre ride through time/space.

Every exhale – a letting go, every inhale a new chance…

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One Response to “corpse pose”

  1. beginner’s mind « embodhiment Says:

    […] bodhisattvas stay in their body « corpse pose happy beltane […]

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