The majority of people, when they hear the word “intimacy”, think: “relationship”. Or they think about closed-door, pillow-talky kind of stuff. They think of deep personal sharing, the kind of sharing that has most men writhing in their skin. (Kidding, I know these are the days of the Evolved Man.)
The point is—intimacy conjures a lot of imagery—imagery that mainly has to do with relating to another. It’s true—intimacy is a quality of relationships. It is also true that the relationship between 2 people is not the primary level of intimacy. The primary level of intimacy is, of course, all about YOU.
Knowing your Self is the axis on which intimacy revolves, and yoga is a powerful catalyst for knowing that self.~Brad Korpalski
Every time we step on a mat, quiet our mind in seated meditation, or focus on the breath, we are saying “hello” to our Self and putting everything else on hold. It’s likely why meditation (and to some extent—asana) scares a lot of people. It can be frightening to look inside when we go to great lengths to not do so.
Who Am I?
I have a Masters Degree in the Art of Distraction. I spent most of my teens and twenties employing a wide array of useful tools for distraction. As teens, we tend to define ourselves by our social lives, so this behavior wasn’t entirely inconsistent with human development.
However, as the distraction behavior (mostly a behavior of living life out of habit—going through the motions—both mentally and socially) persisted into my thirties, it became more and more apparent that I should listen to the subtle space in my life more carefully.
Now, as I’ve said “hello” more and more often, the conversation has started to travel beyond simple pleasantries. When we first start to listen—we are confronted with a wall of noise. The noise consists of the internal stories—the mental manuscript—that tell us how to define ourselves.
This mostly comes from input from others and from our choices—all the influences that we believe have formed our character, or personality: I am funny, I am timid, I am a rock for my family, I am carefree and go with the flow, I can do this, I can’t do that, etc…
Of course, this is an over-simplification. The nature of these stories is much more complex, but whatever your story, the point is to raise awareness toward the constructive quality of what goes on inside our heads. That awareness is built over time, and just like a building, these stories can easily be demolished.
Once we reach this layer, where we begin to receive insight as to where our “stories” come from, how they shape our views on life, and the fact that they’re just stories, we can begin to move beyond them. And in the process, we become more intimate with the Self.
How Asana Helps
These mental stories have a physical counterpart. The physical manifestation is a comprehensive logbook of all the influences gracious enough to bless us with their presence throughout our lives.
Our bodies log everything. From the feelings we experienced as a child, to the current stress that comes from being hunched over a laptop to write this log post—it’s all there. Whereas in meditation you might travel through a mental manuscript of your past experiences, when you practice asana you are getting intimate with the physical story of everything you’ve experienced.
Some of this material is simply genetic, gender-driven, or easily traceable to a significant injury—but most of it is that loveable subtle realm of personal bullshit: all our stories about money, and poor me, and the horrific break-up, and poor me, and the coping mechanism, and poor me, and the college years, and poor me, on and on through the years.
Don’t cringe—it’s all good. It’s just that it’s all there for us to see. We don’t have to sit in these stories any longer, and that is one of the most redeeming qualities about yoga.
“Yoga gets us to move beyond the stories. Yoga takes us into the next layer of self.”~ Brad Korpalski
…And the layer after that. And that one too. All the way to Truth Realized.
We’re not ready for that. We are ready for intimacy: both men and women. First time practitioners and life-long practitioners. Let’s take a look at who we are. I promise—you won’t regret it.