Walking into Bryant Park, I passed by this woman patiently sitting at her table at the corner entrance. Like a seasoned New Yorker, I was going to absorb the scene with a flicker and move on. But her sign piqued my interest: “Would you like to exchange your proverbs or mantras with me?”
I backed up and asked her what this was all about. When she told me that it was part of an art project, I joined her at the table and quickly wrote my mantra of the day on a card: “Reveal yourself.” In return the woman handed me her card printed with the Korean greeting: “Bok Baduseyo.” Loosely translated it means “May prosperity/good fortune come to you.”
Perhaps some day people will wander into a gallery and read my card, thinking that I am enjoining them to be brave and show the world their true, authentic selves! I am not that pushy. Instead, my phrase had come from my previous night’s meditation. For years when I have directed my attention inward, I have actively sought sensations, images and emotions, like a squirrel looking for nuts. But that night I trusted that the movements were there and I kept an open attention, asking my body to reveal itself. Great depths of new experiences bloomed.
Likewise, a very similar process is occurring as my work deepens in Gyrotonic. The other day I was working on abdominal curls. For everything to connect properly for the curl, I had to shed various tensions, opening and surrendering myself into the central length of my spine. This surrendering allowed my spine to automatically–and its seemed to me magically–curl upwards. My body revealed itself.
Neither the meditation nor Gyrotonic experiences would have happened without years of cultivating and attuning an awareness of subtle sensations, as well as spending years of softening, dissolving or stripping away inlaid defenses. Then the work could fall and I was simply in my body, in all of its amazing richness and beauty.
Do you ever use a mantra-like phrase for yourself? I am very curious to hear it.
This was originally posted December 15th, 2010.