"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul." - Oscar Wilde
The theme of my teaching last week was intimacy. The Oxford Dictionaries translate Intimacy as close familiarity, friendship, or closeness. I invited the yoga attendees to befriend their sense experiences as they moved and stretched their bodies. Yin poses are intense when one hasn't yet learned to embrace the body's condition. Instinctively you want to bypass both the physical discomfort and the mental rejection of the experience. Actions follow desires and you find yourself holding your breath, tightening your shoulders, bulging your eyeballs, and all the while thinking that all these actions would lead to flexibility.
The thoughts cannot be further from the truth. The fact is, you can't cultivate flexibility through tension or muscle contraction. You cultivate it through softness, fluidity, and relaxation. In order to soften and relax the body you must first feel the tension in it. Feeling the tension is just the first step toward relaxation. It takes the commitment to embrace the tension in order for you to relax into your discomfort. Relaxation is not easy. It requires a plan of action to arrive at a safe physical condition for the body to not reject its experience. In addition, you must overcome the mental tendency to negate discomfort and believe there is something wrong with displeasing or challenging circumstances. There isn't.
You cannot think your way into relaxation or intimacy. To feel closeness, familiarity, and friendship you have to bypass the middle man that is the mind which thinks up all the interpretations of the sensory experiences--good and bad; and simply feel. Intimacy is the depth of feelings--a willingness to relax and be with your condition exactly as it is. A meaningful life isn't about how well I interpret my circumstances. It is about how intimate I feel everything. Through the closeness of feeling I can see my own desires that drive the thoughts and actions. Suddenly, everything makes sense for the soul.