The Buddha's background, his training, was yoga, at least in no small part, a way to strengthen the body beneficially, by taking advantage of the muscular tension inherent within, using the body itself as a complete gym, toning through the simple exercise of poses, taking care of all the body's inner functions along the way, opening the circuitry of its latent energies. That its origins rest in the observation and imitation of different animals strong at certain things to thus strengthen the human body makes sense.
Pick up your arms, hold them out straight for a while, yeah, you see what I mean. Who needs weights?
Toned and limber, prone to deep thought, for years working with this muscular tension stuff, the Buddha saw tension as a greater backdrop of our construct of reality. How do we use tension, he might have wondered, how might we use it better, how might we understand its significances, just as yoga had come along and used inner muscular tension for improvement? What would the implications be?
There must be tension. We all need to eat and take care of our needs. But how to strengthen the mind, to make it finer, healthier? How might we develop the mental equivalent of physical well being, flexibility and strength? How might we use the mind as an instrument to educate and enlighten itself from within? How might we put the mind to holding poses, poses good for it, healthy? How might we lead the mind to crave the healthy things and not the low level poisons? How might we lead the mind to establish a healthy base, a balance in this thing of control of self and wild desire and appetite?
And so to keep the no longer necessarily limber and agile body of the adult through the poses of yoga, to keep the similarly burdened less flexible mind of the adult stuck in stiff habit there came the innocent and inspired devices of mediation to help the individual live a healthy life.
It was an intelligent and considerate approach to the problem all human beings must face as individuals. And just as yoga is based on the ultimate reality of our physique, the facts of arms and legs, hips and spines and necks and all things that connect, so is Buddhist meditation appropriate to the form of human mind.
So must the writer explore the tensions within his own self, the family vacation's hurled thoughts, the preoccupations and obsessions, the thoughts of insecure futures, in order to gather them, to gather himself and quietly master them as they need to be, all of it more or less intuitive, with a little bit of help from something much like Iyengar's manual of poses. As if to waken a wisdom from within, to lighten a fresh sense of well-being.
And now for a headstand.
Understand tension and its source, and onto a more balanced life. Understand tension from the perspective of self-control and one stands to do things for healthy non-egotistical reasons from the small choices and hopefully to larger ones.
This was stuff I know I needed, after the tensions of the work week followed by the tension of being alone and feeling adrift.