Quelling Our Inner Monkey

My yoga instructor told me on a recent morning: "unlearn the discord in your body...let it go...replace it with the space you are making." Dripping wet from the heat of the yoga room, bent and twisted in eagle pose, fighting for balance and deeper flexion, I got it; I heard what he was telling me. Eagle pose forces new angles in my body. When I squat down with my legs folded and tucked and my arms interlaced, my back and shoulders stretch open. The unnatural and demanding posture, which I can only hold for a minute, helps me to unlearn the hunching of my shoulders at the computer, the bending of my spine over desktops and kitchen counters and steering wheels. The space that I find in my body after a session on the yoga mat helps me to unlearn the habits of body and mind that I bring into the yoga room. When unlearning creates space for something new that serves us better, we get ourselves unstuck. This is true, as well, at the mediation table. Unlearning patterns of interaction, finding new space and letting go, can be the reward of a transformative mediation process. To illustrate this point, I offer the parable of the monkey and the coconut:

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