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Lions Roar : March 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 60 and chants. I practice probably two to three hours a day, and as part of that I do sitting meditation for about ten to fifteen minutes. I do Buddhist retreats throughout the year. Some- times I teach yoga asana practice at the retreats while a Bud- dhist co-presenter teaches meditation. So I am probably weighted on the side of the hatha yoga tradition, with a sprinkling of the buddhadharma to make the context interesting. Actually, my first teacher was a Zen roshi, and ever since then I have looked at hatha yoga practice within the overall view of the dharma. I still look at most of the Hindu disciplines in that context. SHAMBHALA SUN: We normally think of spiritual practice as working primarily with the mind or soul or spirit. Why is it helpful to have a movement or posture practice as well? PHILLIP MOFFITT: If you’re actually going to take dharma into daily life, awareness of the body is the single most useful thing you can have, because the body is always there. Lots of times you can’t remember to do the other practices. You may not remember, “Oh, these are my values, or this is what I want to be paying attention to, or this is how I want to act,” because you get caught up in your emotional reactivity. But in my experience, almost everybody can de- velop a ground of awareness through awareness of the body in this moment. They can get used to coming back and resting in an awareness of the body— whether they’re sitting in a meeting or working at their computer, they can still be aware of their body. They don’t have to lose themselves. RICHARD FREEMAN: People who simply do sitting meditation can de- velop a kind of a crust around them- selves, in which they avoid temptation, avoid feeling, and avoid the grounded- ness of the body. On the other hand, while hatha yoga practice is extremely helpful, it runs the danger of people not practicing it mindfully. So body and mind practices are kind of an antidote for each other. Historically, this has been expressed as the joining of raja yoga, which would be consid- ered contemplative practice, and hatha yoga, which is primarily energy work. When the two come to- gether there’s success in practice. ANNE CUSHMAN: In my experience, the state of my mind and heart is profoundly influenced by and intertwined with the state of my body and energy system. They are a continuum of experience that can’t be neatly broken down into units— here is the mind and here is the body. I find that working with the body can be the doorway to a kind of spacious, calm, and steady awareness that is harder for me to access if my body and nervous system are stressed. By doing yoga practice I can dissolve some of the barriers to awareness that might take me a long time to deal with through sitting practice alone. We live in a time when our bodies and nervous systems are be-