Blog #81: Baseline With Modifications

Blog #81: Baseline With Modifications

I haven't written a blog in a couple weeks, and boy, have my readers been screaming for a new one. I mean they've been e-mailing me by the thousands—demanding more of my half-baked insights and incredibly trivial anecdotes that I somehow manage to relate to AYP, even if it's by a ridiculous stretch of the imagination.

Well, I certainly don't want to withhold any more of my pseudo-philosophical, amateur journalism, so here's a new one.

Massage school. What a trip. I go there five days a week, from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Then I work from 4:00 PM to Midnight. The six hours of sleep that I usually catch at night are pretty precious, and I nap or meditate during the afternoon break. The weekends are more golden than ever. Free time is not taken for granted.

Fortunately, my gracious massage teacher is allowing me to lead silent meditations everyday at the beginning of class. This is a huge boon because it lets me sustain my daily practices, while also sharing collective stillness with my fellow therapists-in-training. After our short, 10-minute session of silent meditation (I have already given them instructions on Deep Meditation, and continue to clarify the finer points and questions), I do a spoken version of samyama (both quantitative and qualitative). It goes something like this:

"As we stretch and relax, we can let our awareness come back into the room, and into our bodies, then we can let it expand outward to touch the rest of our school...then further out into the city...stretching out into the state...to the nation...then encompassing the entire world, as if we were holding the world in our hands, and finally—reaching out into the cosmos..." Then I go through the list of the nine qualitative sutras (just one repetition per sutra) at a slow pace, but not nearly as slow as the prescribed 15-second gap when done inwardly. After I utter the final cherry-on-top sutra of Lightness of Air, then we go around the room so that every single student has a chance to offer a few sutras of their own choosing. So far, they've been very creative in putting emotional content into their words as they softly speak them out loud, into the collective consciousness that binds us all.

Obviously, this is an example of the baseline with modifications approach. In other words, I have taken a couple baseline AYP techniques and adapted them to suit some peculiar needs that are arising in my life. And what are those peculiar needs? Well, as previously mentioned, I'm on a super-tight schedule, and I'm introducing AYP to a new audience that didn't necessarily sign up to meditate when they enrolled in massage school. Therefore, I have watered things down a little bit, and created an abbreviated version of practice, instead of abandoning a morning routine altogether.

In my not-so-humble opinion, this is exactly why AYP will flourish in the long run. It's not just a matter of AYP being taught in boutique yoga studios, or at secluded retreat centers, or through the prosthetic interface of the internet. It's a matter of AYP being brought into the trenches—in places like low-income schools and blue-collar populations, or in front of recovering addicts and other victims of their own self-induced suffering and stupidity. These territories are, paradoxically, the most fertile ground for progress and transformation. Why? Because the hunger and thirst for change is very high.

When we are in touch with the Spirit, there is a primal fire inside that burns with a palpable intensity, even as our surface movements continue to become refined, graceful, and more fluid. And that's what I'm learning about massage. A hybrid of zealous passion and knowledgeable precision is needed.

The higher power is in us.

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