My husband is a jazz musician and plays the drum set. He is an aficionado of sound- especially when it comes to his cymbals. He uses a technique of hammering an existing brass cymbal in order to alter its sound. Hammering can change the highs and lows, creating a more pleasant sound by adjusting the sympathetic harmonic vibrations. (Right- sounds like yoga, doesn’t it!)
He had a Turkish cymbal (Zyldjian) in the closet that he had “over-hammered” and had given it up as a lost cause. Recently he re-visited that same cymbal and “reverse-hammered” it. Now it’s become a much-loved addition to his collection. This is especially nice for him as he lost an opportunity to go to the Zyldjian factory and buy one first hand in Turkey on one of his travels last year. When he excitedly told me how he’d transformed his cymbal from a lost cause to a prized possession, I thought… “Dharma Talk!!”
This story brought to mind one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt– “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” This quote is like a mantra to me, reminding me to continually look at my own resources- both internal and external to evaluate what can be created from what I already have.
For me, yoga has been a proven tool for transforming what I already have, into something ever more “valuable” than I had originally perceived it to be. Through movement I have honed my body to become stronger and more flexible. Problem areas -like low back issues- have been transformed to a point where what once was a source of chronic pain is now strong and easily maintained. For 2 years I’d practically put my body in the back of my own “closet” due to chronic pain.
Through the breath I am offered a way inside myself- to delve beneath the skin, investigating what’s “in there”. I’m encouraged to always look inward before placing my faith in something outward in hopes having something external dictate my ease or happiness; I’m reminded again and again that “what I have” is likely exactly what I need; resource that leads to transformation. At any given moment I can use the breath as a tool to stay in the present moment no matter what unfolds in that moment. The philosophy of Yoga helps me to understand myself in a way that allows me to have a more pleasant, sympathetic, harmonic vibration with the people in my world. Yoga really does teach us to look at what we have, to do what we can with what we have- right where we are, right now.
In ever deepening ways yoga asks us to continually assess ourselves- mind, body and spirit; offering tools to reshape and rebuild. Our hammer is a gentle one, but the results can bring about something as beautiful and shimmering as a treasured Zyldjian cymbal- and often, we discover we don’t have to travel to some place outside ourselves in order to experience that transformation.