Sunday, February 27, 2011

Being Still Vs. Doing Nothing

As a little girl I was obsessed with martial arts films. One more way of bonding with my dad, I enjoyed watching films like The Karate Kid and Enter The Dragon over and over again. Mr. Miyagi, Bruce Lee and the various Samurai shown in Akira Kurosawa films provided great entertainment for me.
It's no wonder that when the new Karate Kid came out last year, I was too much of a Karate puritan to entertain watching it. This week, however, I was outnumbered when my dad convinced my sister and mom to vote in favor of watching the film. Reluctantly, I sat with a frown on my face and a mug brim-full of piping hot coffee on my lap. Within a few moments I was laughing so hard I spilled coffee on my jeans and listening to my sister's cackle, my dad's boisterous laughter and my mom's pleas for us to all be quiet, I was instantly transported back to the 1980s when life was as simple as the wisdom Mr. Miyagi offered his student Daniel LaRusso.
Jackie Chan (I've been a fan ever since his "Rumble In The Bronx" days) plays Mr. Han, a wise maintenance man who happens to be a Kung Fu master. Though he does not officially teach Kung Fu, he does take Jaden Smith's character, Dre Parker, under his wing. The two spend hours together training for a big Kung Fu competition and along the way there are lifelong lessons that are learned and mastered within a two hour-period in classic Karate Kid fashion. The one part of the film which stuck with me the most is when Mr. Han teaches Dre that, "There is a difference between being still and doing nothing."
During my own Yoga-practice it is really easy for me to slip into the motions. Whether it's an intense Heated Power Yoga class or a chill Hatha Yoga class, I often find I'm breathing and flowing from one Asana to the next, but internally I'm doing nothing. My mind might wander to the next posture or even begin thinking about what my plans are later in the evening. Only when my mind is totally still can I actually focus on each inhalation and exhalation. During these rare moments where my mind is completely still, I am the most open to the world around me.
Perhaps if I had already mastered this I wouldn't have been so foolish as to refuse my dad's suggestion for this film in the first place! Ya live and learn :)

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